On Sunday night the Seattle Seahawks host the Kansas City Chiefs, with playoff implications at stake for both teams. The Chiefs bring their high powered offense and a defense that is, simply put, not good.
Specifically, the Kansas City defense ranks
- 28th in points allowed,
- 31st in yards allowed,
- 25th in yards per play,
- 32nd in passing yards allowed,
- 26th in rushing yards allowed,
- 29th in opponent scoring drive percentage and
- 32nd in defensive penalties.
Basically, their defense is about as bad as their offense is good. As such, there is the distinct possibility that several members of the Seahawks could finish tonight having surpassed personal milestones for production, so here are some things to watch for during the game.
Seahawks running back Chris Carson currently sits at 913 rushing yards on the season, meaning he is just 87 yards away from reaching 1,000 yards on the season. Reaching that threshold would make Carson the first Hawk to reach that level since Marshawn Lynch in 2014, and the first member of the team not named Lynch to reach 1,000 yards in a season during Pete Carroll’s tenure.
Carson already holds the title of most yards by a Seahawks running back other than Lynch under Carroll, and only five running backs in franchise history have surpassed 1,000 yards in a single season. Those five are
- Shaun Alexander (5 times)
- Marshawn Lynch (4 times)
- Chris Warren (4 times)
- Curt Warner (4 times)
- Ricky Watters (3 times)
That’s not a bad list of names that Carson could join this week or next.
While Carson sits just 87 yards away from 1,000 yards rushing, Tyler Lockett is just 200 yards away from a thousand yards receiving on the season after having been given a contract extension this past summer.
Lockett has stepped up his game in the face of Paul Richardson leaving for the Washington Redskins, Jimmy Graham taking his lack of production to the Green Bay Packers and Doug Baldwin not playing nearly as much this year due to injuries. The reward for Lockett has been the best season of his career by far, and he is within striking distance of becoming just the second Hawks receiver since 2010 to gain 1,000 yards receiving in a single season.
Russell Wilson currently sits with just 6 interceptions on the season, with an interception rate of just 1.5915%. Eleven more pass attempts without an interception would put his interception rate at just 1.5464%, which would be better than the 1.5486% he posted in 2014.
First, for the good: Wilson needs just three more touchdown passes to tie the career high of 34 he set in both 2017 and 2015. The Chiefs allow an average of 1.93 touchdown passes a game, so there’s definitely hope that Wilson can match, or exceed his career high during Week 16.
Now for the bad: Wilson is just three sacks away from tying his career high of 45 sacks. If he reaches that career high, he will likely reach his career high in sack yards, as he is just 27 yards short of tying that as well.
If that number seems big, it is. Take for a moment and think back to Week 3 of the 2016 season. Trent Baalke was still the General Manager for the San Francisco 49ers, Chip Kelly was still the head coach and the Seahawks obliterated the Blaine Gabbert led 49ers 37-18 behind a career high 106 rushing yards and 2 TDs from Christine Michael. That was the game in which Wilson injured his knee, which limited his mobility for much of the 2016 campaign. In the fourth quarter, with just thirteen seconds to go in the game, Trevone Boykin took the snap and took a knee for a two yard loss to run out the clock.
Seems like forever ago, doesn’t it? In football terms it was. The significance of that game to the matchup against the Chiefs may not be readily apparent to most, but it is quite simple.
That kneel down by Boykin to end the game was the last time the Hawks ran an offensive play during the regular season without Germain Ifedi on the field. Since he took over at right guard for J’Marcus Webb in Week 4, and then moved out to right tackle in 2017, Ifedi has been on the field for every single snap that the Seahawks have run. That’s quite a feat, however, with a groin injury making Ifedi a gametime decision for Week 16, the Hawks could be looking at having a third string right guard lining up next to the second string right tackle. If that proves to be the case, don’t be surprised if we spend a lot of the night listening to the announcers calling, “Chris Carson to the left” on repeat.
Frank Clark already has the most sacks in a single season by a player since Carroll became head coach. Four and a half sacks in two weeks is certainly a tall order, however, making a dent in that number against the Chiefs could put Clark in position to have an outside shot at getting the record against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 17.
The Cardinals beleaguered offensive line is ranked dead last in the NFL for Pass Blocking Efficiency by PFF, and has allowed 14 sacks over the last four games. The Arizona line is currently comprised of
- LT Korey Cunningham, a 2018 7th round draft choice,
- LG Colby Gossett, a 2018 6th round draft choice,
- C Mason Cole, a 2018 3rd round draft choice,
- RG Oday Aboushi, who Seahawks fans are familiar with and
- RT Joe Barksdale, who was cut by the Los Angeles Chargers on December 3 this season.
In short, the Arizona offensive line is beat up and missing most of the players who they had expected to be on the field for the team this season. Specifically, here’s a rundown of the players they expected to start this year:
- LT D.J. Humphries: on IR with an undisclosed knee injury suffered in Week 10,
- LG Mike Iupati: on IR with an MCL injury suffered in Week 13,
- C A.Q. Shipley: on IR with a torn ACL suffered during the preseason,
- RG Justin Pugh: on IR with a torn MCL in Week 10 and
- RT Andre Smith: cut after the Cardinals 45-10 loss to the Chargers in Week 12.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that no matter how rough the Hawks injury luck has been in recent weeks on the right side of the offensive line, things could be worse, and worse is what the Cardinals offensive line looks like. In any case, that horrible injury luck for the Cards is what could give Clark a glimmer of hope in setting the single season franchise record for sacks in Week 17 if he can come up with a sack or two against the Chiefs in Week 16.