On Sunday, reigning NFC champions Seattle travel to take on one of the AFC’s hottest teams, the Cincinnati Bengals.
Week 1 Recap
The Seahawks have struggled early this season. They were lucky to move to 2-2 against the Detroit Lions last week after a controversial play that the officials missed. Despite being Super Bowl favorites, the Seahawks lost their opening games at St. Louis and Green Bay before bouncing back against the Chicago Bears.
No one was talking about Cincinnati winning the AFC North this season. But they sit at 4-0 atop the division as rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore struggle. The Bengals overpowered the Oakland Raiders in Week 1 before beating potential playoff rivals San Diego, Baltimore, and Kansas City.
Keys to win
If Seattle wants to win, they will have to get their offense working. Russell Wilson has been sacked 18 times behind a woeful offensive line; second-worst in the league. Marshawn Lynch has been limited in the last couple of games with a hamstring issue, and star tight end Jimmy Graham hasn’t been utilized properly.
Which doesn’t bode well against Cincinnati’s defense. In the game against Kansas City, a similar offense to Seattle’s, the Bengals didn’t allow any touchdowns. All of Kansas City’s 21 points came on field goals. The Bengals sacked Alex Smith five times, which doesn’t bode well for Wilson. Jamaal Charles managed just 75 yards on 11 carries against Cincinnati’s front seven.
Seattle’s defense has always been strong against the pass. But the Bengals have another weapon to use; an all-star backfield of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. Cincinnati has averaged 128 yards per game so far and has seven rushing touchdowns; second-most in the league. Seattle hasn’t yet played a team with a strong rushing attack, so how they deal with the Bengals’ backfield will be key.
Can Andy Dalton continue his impressive form against the Legion of Boom? Since Kam Chancellor has returned to the line-up, Seattle has conceded just 10 points in two games. But Dalton has an impressive stable of weapons at his disposal who could present matchup nightmares for even the Seahawks vaunted secondary. Unbelievably, the Seahawks are one of only three teams that have not yet had an interception this season.
It’s a tough game to call. But the Bengals have the edge due to Seattle’s offensive struggles. And if any team so far has the firepower to overcome the Seahawks defense, it’s the Cincinnati Bengals.
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