Bumpus: The situation that will decide if Seahawks beat Steelers

Dec 28, 2023, 3:16 PM

Seattle Seahawks...

Kenneth Walker III of the Seattle Seahawks runs the ball for a touchdown on Dec, 18, 2023. (Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

(Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks have won back-to-back games and are back over .500 and holding a playoff spot with just two games to go this season.

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The first of those two final games is this Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Hawks are 8-7 and hold the No. 7 seed in the NFC. The Steelers are also 8-7, but due to various tiebreakers they are the No. 10 seed in the AFC and outside of the playoff picture entering Sunday.

It’s a big game for two teams with playoff aspirations, and former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus believes a specific situation will likely determine who wins this weekend.

“It’s all about the red zone,” Bumpus said during Thursday’s Bump and Stacy on Seattle Sports. “The Hawks are the 28th red zone-scoring offense. Pittsburgh, they’re 27th red zone-scoring offense.”

Neither team has been great converting trips to the red zone (the area between the end zone and the opponent’s 20-yard line) into touchdowns. The Seahawks did just go up against a team that has an elite red zone defense, which Bumpus thinks could help them this weekend.

“Last week they went 2 for 4 in the red zone against the Tennessee Titans, and they’re the No. 2 red zone defense,” he said. “Now Pitt is the fifth red zone scoring defense. That means they’re the fifth-best when it comes to keeping teams out of the end zone, and the Hawks are the 27th when it comes to red zone scoring defense. You’re gonna get into the red zone, and that’s where you’re gonna have to win this ballgame.

“Of course you’ve got to do the things that I talked about when it comes to stopping the run and keeping everybody in front of you. But when it’s time to score, you have to score. When it’s time to stop these guys from putting points in a board, you have to do that.”

Success in the red zone is part of why the Steelers have had defensive success this year, even if some of the numbers may not indicate as such.

“The Pittsburgh Steelers are a weird team. You look at their defensive ranks … they’re 21st in total defense, 21st against the pass, 20th against the run, but they’re seventh when it comes to points allowed. Why? Because they find a way to pack things in and get physical inside the red zone,” Bumpus said. “So look at that situation closely. I mean, you obviously do already because you’re close to scoring … That situation is going to determine the ballgame right there.”

Listen to the second hour of Thursday’s Bump and Stacy at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

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