Moore: Seahawks’ commitment to run will backfire vs Bucs’ No. 1 run defense
Tampa Bay is the next-to-last team with a losing record that the Seahawks will face this season. But even though the Buccaneers are just 2-5 under first-year coach Bruce Arians, their record is misleading. They’re not that bad, and frankly, the 6-2 Seahawks aren’t as good as their record suggests.
Defensive deficiencies will catch up to Seattle in the second half of the season, and as much as everyone seems to like Joey Hunt, I wonder if Justin Britt’s replacement at center will hold up over the long haul. Russell Wilson can cover up many flaws – so can Chris Carson and Tyler Lockett – but I question whether there’s enough offensive firepower to compensate for a subpar defense.
What will make it even more difficult to sustain is that the Seahawks face the NFL’s toughest schedule in the second half of the season. The Bucs aren’t supposed to be one of those tougher opponents, but if you take away the turnovers – they’ve committed 17 in seven games – they appear to be a team with plenty of potential on both sides of the ball.
Even though Bob Stelton, my co-host on Bob, Dave and Moore, thinks Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston stinks because of his constant tendency to turn it over with 12 interceptions on the season and two lost fumbles last week at Tennessee, he’s still a gunslinger who can cause problems. Winston threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns in a 55-40 win over the Rams in Los Angeles, and his receivers are fantasy-football favorites – Chris Godwin and Mike Evans have combined for 1,367 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The Bucs, with former Husky Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh clogging the middle, are No. 1 in the league in rushing defense, allowing 69 yards a game and only 62 on the road. They are far more vulnerable to the pass, however, ranking 30th in the league.
It makes me think that the Seahawks should change their run-first philosophy and attack the Bucs through the air, but we know Pete Carroll won’t do that. He’ll stick to his guns, trying to establish the run throughout the afternoon. Last year you remember how that went in the playoff game at Dallas. Even though the Cowboys had the league’s best rush defense at home, the Seahawks still tried to run the ball, making little headway. At least they were No. 1 in the league in rushing offense then; this year they’re No. 9 so it makes little sense to bang your head into the wall of a Tampa Bay run defense, yet that’s what they’ll probably do.
If it were up to me, I’d unleash Russell Wilson and allow him to have a chance for a 400-yard, four-touchdown day, but that’s not part of the Seahawks’ winning formula. It’s hard to criticize Carroll for not throwing a changeup this week given his long-term success here, but I guess I’m doing it anyway.
There’s a good chance we’ll finally see a decent pass rush from the Seahawks. Winston’s been sacked 28 times, an average of four a game. If they can get to him, it also increases the likelihood of interceptions by a secondary that is banged up at safety but returns cornerback Tre Flowers from a one-game absence.
Nonetheless, I still think Winston is talented enough, and the Bucs are desperate enough to pull off the upset as five-point underdogs.
Prediction: Bucs 27, Seahawks 24.