Jim Moore Predicts: Shaky Seahawks secondary will be tested by Steelers
Well I’m off to a sputtering start, predicting the Seahawks would beat the Bengals 24-13 and cover the 9 1/2-point spread last week. They won 21-20 but did not cover the spread.
This week they’re 3 1/2-point underdogs at Pittsburgh, and that sounds about right even if the Steelers are coming off of a 33-3 loss to New England.
The Seahawks should get a lift from defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who is expected to play in his first game. Ansah and Jadeveon Clowney give the Seahawks two elite pass rushers who will get their pressures and sacks and also help their defensive line teammates by drawing so much attention from opponents.
But I doubt that the Seahawks’ D-line will come up with five sacks like it did last week. I’d guess they’ll be lucky to get two. I say that because the Steelers’ have one of the best pass-protecting offensive lines in the league – Roethlisberger was sacked only 24 times last year. Compare that to the 51 times that Russell Wilson went down in 2018. In that 30-point loss to the Patriots, Roethlisberger was sacked one time.
With Roethlisberger operating from a clean pocket, I suspect he will throw for more than 300 yards against a Seattle secondary that allowed more than 400 passing yards to Andy Dalton. I’m also basing the projection of a big day from Big Ben on this – the last time the Steelers met the Seahawks in 2015, Roethlisberger passed for 456 yards in a 39-30 loss. If he can throw for 456 yards against the Legion of Boom, what kind of a day do you think he’ll have against an average to below-average Seattle secondary?
The Seahawks’ secondary should be better with one expected change and another that could happen. Look for Tedric Thompson to be replaced at free safety by Bradley McDougald with Lano Hill starting at strong safety. It’s also a possibility that the re-signed Jamar Taylor could replace Ugo Amadi at slot corner. It might be a temporary move since Amadi has been nursing a shoulder injury this week and has a bigger upside than Taylor, who nonetheless offers veteran experience. Though to be honest, I didn’t think he played that well during the preseason.
Offensively, the Seahawks should be able to generate a better running game than they had against Cincinnati, but I wonder about the passing game. Tyler Lockett missed practice Wednesday with a sore back and was a limited participant on Thursday. Pete Carroll says he’s good to go, but it’s hard to expect him to operate at full strength. And even when he was 100 percent last week, he had only one catch and was not targeted until the fourth quarter.
Can you expect DK Metcalf to shine in back-to-back games after his strong debut? I suppose that’s a plausible expectation, but I’ll go ahead and predict that he won’t be as productive as he was last week.
After that? Jaron Brown had no catches or targets last week, continuing a trend from last year. David Moore is out for another week with a broken arm. Gary Jennings has done nothing to justify being a fourth-round pick. My biggest hope is that John Ursua will be active this week and show why he drew favorable comparisons to Doug Baldwin in the preseason.
I’d look for Chris Carson to lead the team in receptions again like he did last week, but I don’t think that’s a formula for season-long success. Hopefully tight ends Will Dissly and Nick Vannett will contribute too, and the Seahawks can get it done by slapping together some sort of receiver-by-committee strategy that will be enough to beat the Steelers.
I’m also hoping but not expecting C.J. Prosise to be used more frequently than he was last week. You remember that, right? Prosise looked like a Pro Bowl running back in the preseason, rekindling those memories of the damage he did against New England and Philadelphia 15 years ago, or maybe it was just three years ago, but it feels like 15.
Carroll said Prosise didn’t get any carries against the Bengals because they didn’t run enough plays. Listen, that’s fine if he wants to give us a coach-speak explanation like that, but this week if the Seahawks are limited to 10 running plays, I’d still like to see Prosise involved. And if it were up to me, I’d give Carson five of those carries, Prosise three and Rashaad Penny two, but I’d only give Penny two if the Seahawks are way ahead. I haven’t given up on Penny, but I’m not on board with him either. I just don’t feel like he’s done enough to justify being the second-string back, especially if you’re throwing around this “always compete” mantra all the time.
Added up, it doesn’t look promising. I’m guessing around 1 p.m. Sunday, the Seahawks will be 1-1 and returning home with more questions about their offense and defense.
Prediction: Steelers 31, Seahawks 20.
More from Moore: Rashaad Penny shouldn’t get carries over C.J. Prosise