The Seattle Seahawks are most-likable in 1 way – their reluctance to fly along with the flock in the National Football League.
Think back to the early-mid years of the current decade when NFL big-shots like Boomer Esiason were all but calling for the necks of “college”-style read-option QBs. Signal-callers like Colin Kaepernick and Tim Tebow were soon forced into playbooks which did not suit them, and Cam Newton was beginning a long, slow decline from the sport’s pinnacle.
But the Seahawks, perched out in the Pacific Northwest and removed from the constant noise out of New York, Los Angeles, and Bristol, were impervious to the backlash against option-able QBs. Russell Wilson kept on doing his give-pitch-carry thing in Seattle (and occasionally slipping out of the pocket to zing deadly home-run balls) which took Pete Carroll’s team to 2 NFC Championships and a Super Bowl title.
And wouldn’t you know it – the “Seahags” (as rival fan bases call them) are doing it again this year. Those referee-baiting, rugby-tackling outlaws are 4-1 through 5 games and a freshly-minted Las Vegas point-spread favorite to beat the Cleveland Browns this Sunday afternoon.
Who: Seattle Seahawks at Cleveland Browns
When: Sunday, October 13th, 1 PM EST
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH
Lines: SEA (-2) at CLE (+2) / O/U Total: (47)
The Browns have fallen to 2-3 after a Monday night 31-3 shellacking courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers. Baker Mayfield struggled to his worst outing as a professional, and was eventually given a seat in the 4th quarter when the game was well out of hand.
The lightning-rod QB completed just 8-of-22 passes for 100 yards, took 4 sacks, and was intercepted twice. The Browns have a short week to prepare and more than 1 problem – they will have to shore up their run defense as well as the passing game after allowing over 250 yards on the ground to the 49ers:
Led by ends Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon, the Browns’ defensive line was supposed to be the team’s strength…But on the 49ers’ first play, Matt Breida gashed them for an 83-yard touchdown — the second-longest run by an opponent in franchise history, bested only by an 86-yard TD by Cincinnati’s Essex Johnson in 1971. The Niners averaged 6.9 yards per carry as the Browns’ run defense plummeted to 29th in the league this week.
On Thursday, defensive coordinator Steve Wilks took the blame for the “embarrassing” performance. He said he got away from the Browns’ fundamentals, and it left the defense thinking too much, struggling to get aligned and playing too slow. We just have to go back to our foundation, our fundamentals, everything we did previously to have success in the games that we’ve won,” Garrett said, referring to victories over the Jets and Ravens. “We can’t get cute and try to beat people playing their game. Wilks agrees with that.
Bill Walsh always criticized the “back to basics” message from an NFL club, arguing that it begs the question of just who the heck got the team away from its fundamentals in the 1st place.
Meanwhile on the Seattle side, the Seahawks are still known for a mean defense, but are playing better on offense than expected. Chris Carson had his fumble problems early with 3 in the first 3 weeks, but he has held onto the egg since then, and is coming off a big game last Thursday night as Seattle held off the L.A. Rams 30-29.
Even with a healthy Rashaad Penny back in the mix, it still seems Pete Carroll is working towards making Carson his workhorse back.
Russell Wilson has been dynamite in 2019. Wilson is yet to throw an interception, and has completed 114-of-156 passes for 1409 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s only rushed for 120 yards, but leads the team in rushing TDs.
Tyler Lockett is slowly emerging into a concrete #1 passing option, and Will Dissly is evolving into a Red Zone threat. Cleveland’s defense knows it must defend both receivers tightly, as the Seahawks successfully self-scouted away from Wilson’s tendency to target Lockett so often in the early-going.
Cleveland’s starting cornerbacks Greedy Williams and Denzel Ward returned to limited practice this week, and both are trending in the right direction to make their 1st appearance since injury swoons that began with an unlucky practice on 9/21.
Still, the betting public is ALL about the Seattle Seahawks in this match-up, turning the ‘Hawks from an underdog to a (-2) favorite on short order. What do everyday pundits all agree that they see in this contest that’s so favorable to Seattle?
It’s not that we want to dismiss the subtleties here. Seattle’s pass rush is not manned by 4 or 5 epic Hall-of-Famers, rather the visiting defense is built on teamwork, every-snap intensity and a handful of play-makers. That should mean it’s a little easier for a young QB like Mayfield to find a rhythm at home against the Seahawks, especially since the 1st quarter will kick-off at 10 AM Pacific time.
But look at the macro-analytics. There’s a potential Super Bowl contender returning to prominence, and its QB is on fire. The opposing team’s QB might be out of a job soon if he’s not careful.
Wilson can out-play Mayfield by a field-goal margin in his sleep. Take the Seahawks to cover (-2) in Cleveland.