The odds have the Denver Broncos as 6.5-point favorites over the Seattle Seahawks, and many expect them to win by an even bigger margin. A significant reason for this is the difference in quarterback for each team.
The Seahawks go from Russell Wilson to Geno Smith and the Broncos from a combination of Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock to a nine-time Pro Bowler. That left almost everyone in Broncos Country expecting a massive win.
It begs the question, though: Is Broncos Country wildly underestimating the Seahawks? Let’s try to answer that question by looking at these two teams outside of the quarterback position.
Looking at the Seahawks last year, here’s where they stood on offense and defense.
- Passes per game: 201.9 (23rd)
- Rushing yards per game: 122.0 (11th)
- Points per game: 23.2 (16th)
- Third Down Percentage: 37.3 (23rd)
- Passes per game: 265.5 (31st)
- Rushing yards per game: 113.6 (17th)
- Points per game: 21.5 (12th)
- Third Down Percentage: 39.3 (14th)
- Pressure Percentage: 22.1% (26th)
- Sacks: 34 (24 tied)
The Seahawks ended up having a good rushing game, averaging five yards per attempt, the third highest in the NFL. Rashaad Penny had some big games to add to the rushing numbers for the Seahawks.
Penny has been the man against the run over the past five weeks, where he has amassed at least 135 yards in four of the games. However, those plays came against the 31st, 23rd, 28th and 20th ranked defenses in yards allowed per game, respectively.
Despite their struggles last season, the Broncos allowed an average of 111.3 yards per game, which was 15th in the NFL. Denver bolstered their defense by adding DJ Jones and getting Josey Jewell back and healthy. Having Bradley Chubb will also help against the run.
Seattle has a solid running game, but can Penny replicate those numbers? Will Seattle’s revamped offensive line hold up? Can Smith do enough to help the game?
The Seahawks have three new pieces on their offensive line, including both offensive tackles. In fact, both tackles are rookies, and while they showed promise in the preseason, most of their time came against second and third basemen. Can these rookies hold up against NFL starters?
On the inside, Austin Blythe is Seattle’s new center, who has been solid in his time as a starter. Seahawks guards Gabe Jackson and Damien Lewis were downright awful last season. Regardless, Denver should do well in the trenches against the run with Jones in the middle of the defensive line.
Dre’Mont Jones, DeShawn Williams and DJ Jones should put enough interior pressure on Smith, who was pressured over 38 percent of the time as a result of his two guards. As for tackles, Smith was pressured 46.1% of the time. The addition of rookies Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas should help reduce that number.
However, they are rookies and Chubb’s strengths can be used to attack the areas of concern around Cross. As for Lucas, a lot will depend on whether Randy Gregory plays. Gregory would be a bad matchup for Lucas, but if it’s Baron Browning, the matchup would be more favorable for the rookie.
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Defensively, the Seahawks had a mostly good season, especially with their front seven. However, their secondary was problematic, so they drafted Tariq Wallen and Kobe Bryant. The two rookie corners are a lot like the two rookie tackles; they had a promising preseason and training camp, but didn’t come up against NFL starters often.
Courtland Sutton could be a major problem for them. Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler could also be problematic, depending on the latter’s health. Plus, this is where quarterback improvement really goes against the Seahawks.
As for their front seven, Seattle had a good unit last year, but suffered huge losses. Carlos Dunlap, Rasheem Green, Kerry Hyder and Bobby Wagner are some of Seattle’s most popular expats. That’s a loss of 102 total pressures and 191 tackles.
To replace that, the Seahawks got Shelby Harris in the Wilson trade and brought in Uchenna Nwosu. That brings a total of 73 pressures and a total of 55 defensive tackles. That’s a huge loss of production from Seattle’s defensive front. The Seahawks also added rookies in Boye Mafe and Tyreke Smith, but they have yet to play a regular season game. While the two rookies can mitigate the loss of production, it’s safe to expect a dip in their performance.
So is Broncos Country massively underestimating the Seahawks?
Seattle is widely regarded as one of the worst rosters in the NFL because it suffered some significant losses at critical positions as well. The Seahawks are turning to multiple rookies for significant roles, which will be good for getting experience for years to come, but not so much for now.
The Seahawks appear to be getting ready to pursue a quarterback in the 2023 class, and in a year or two they could have a good team. This year, however, Seattle seems to be aiming for a higher draft pick. Denver can help them early in the season.
With this being the first game of the season, there will be problems on the Broncos side in football, but having a true quarterback is such a difference maker. But even outside of that, the Broncos still have the better all-around lineup.
While this game won’t be easy, it’s looking increasingly likely that Denver will win by more than a touchdown.
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