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Seahawks vs. Buccaneers preview: Highlighting 4 key matchups for Munich showdown

The Seahawks look for a fifth win in a row.

NFL: NOV 06 Rams at Buccaneers Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With last Sunday’s victory over the Arizona Cardinals, the Seahawks now possess the third seed in the NFC, have a 1.5 game lead in the NFC West and hold the third longest winning streak in the NFL at four straight. The Seahawks look to extend their winning streak to five games as they head to Munich, Germany to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This is a matchup that will feature a battle between one of the best quarterbacks of all time and Tom Brady.

The Bucs, to the surprise of many, sit as a 2.5-point favorite in this game on DraftKings Sportsbook despite struggling this season. A big part of the reason the Buccaneers have struggled to this point is because they are constructed as a top-heavy roster. Due to that construction the Seahawks need to control Tampa’s top few players in order to pick up the international victory.

Tampa Bay

Defensive line vs the Seahawks offensive line

Despite injuries to the unit the Buccaneers defensive line is still an impactful part of the Tampa Bay defense. Akiem Hicks is one of the most physically imposing players in the league, William Gholston is a reliable 10-year veteran and Rakeem Nunez-Roches is a fantastic depth piece for the line. However, Vita Vea is the player that makes this unit tick as he is one of the best defenders in the league. Since being drafted in 2018 the former Washington Husky has registered 18 sacks, 41 QB hits and 22 tackles for a loss. The 6 foot 4, 347-pound lineman is one of the most difficult linemen to block for a variety of reasons. For starters he does an amazing job of working under the pad levels of offensive lineman allowing him to gain leverage on them and utilize one of the better bull rushes in the league. In addition to that he has one of the quickest get offs to go along with rapid hands.

The first play showcases a lot of the skills discussed above. He beats the initial blocker with a really quick swim move, but importantly he is also able to also beat the center Brian Allen, who is helping to the inside, to the spot because of how quick his get off was. There is certainly a case to be made that Bobby Evans should’ve done better but the former 12th overall pick deserves the lion’s share of the credit. On the second play, Vea blows right through the lineman who prevents too soft of an outside shoulder. The only way to block him when on an island is to square him up and prevent him from using his hands which is far easier said than done. If the Seahawks offensive line struggles to beat him at the point of attack, then he is going to take the game over. Vea vs whomever is blocking him is far and away the most important individual matchup for Sunday’s game.

Predicted edge - Tampa defensive line

Vita Vea single-handedly gives Tampa the edge in this one. It will be interesting to see how Seattle plans to attack him Sunday, whether that be with doubles, a quicker passing game or running away from him. Although, no matter what Shane Waldron and co. do, Vea is still going to make his presence felt.

Mike Evans vs Tariq Woolen

Mike Evans is one of the best red zone receivers the league has seen in recent memory. His 6-foot 4 3⁄4-inch frame and 35 1/8-inch arms allow him to go up and high point any ball making him deadly on fades in the endzone. Since the start of the 2020 season Evans has 30 receiving touchdowns which is second only to Devante Adams, who has 36 over that time frame. The first video shows us what makes his size/length paired with Brady’s accuracy such a deadly combination. Evans slow plays his release of the line, uses his length to get to the outside of the corner and then to create separation. Brady throws a perfect ball to the back pylon where Evans is able to use his strong hands to snatch it out of the air. This route and throw combination are borderline indefensible so if Tampa gets within three yards of the endzone we can certainly expect to see a play like this one.

The second tweet highlights an underrated aspect of Evans’ game which is his deep ball ability. Most view the Texas A&M alum as a red zone/back shoulder threat, although he is a true deep ball weapon as well for the same reasons that makes him good in the red zone. In the second tweet Marlon Humphrey is covering Evans in a Cover 3 defense, playing with heavy outside leverage and giving the Super Bowl champ a free release. Evans leans on Humphrey to force him towards the sideline giving Brady a clear throw to the inside resulting in a long completion off of a beautiful deep ball.

Predicted edge - Tariq Woolen

Even with Evans being one of the more physically imposing wide receivers in the league, Woolen gets the edge in this one for me. Before last week I struggled to give Woolen the advantage over opposing number one receivers. Last Sunday’s performance convinced me that he is quickly becoming a true lockdown cornerback as he was left on an island against Deandre Hopkins and shut him down all game.


Tight ends vs the Tampa Bay linebackers

Noah Fant and Will Dissly are third and fourth respectively on the Seahawks in catches, targets and receiving yards. Fant has had an up and down season thus far as he has three games where he has 45 or more yards, but he also has five outings where he posted 19 or fewer receiving yards. The former Iowa Hawkeye is coming off of his best game as a Seahawk as he hauled in 5 passes on 6 targets for 96 yards. He was routinely used in the play action passing game on underneath routes as the Cardinals had very little edge contain in the game.

In the first video he runs a drag route where he beats former first round pick Isaiah Simmons to the inside and then pulls away from him with his speed. Plays like that one are not going to be remembered after the game, but they are imperative in order to get the chains moving. Hopefully the usage that the former Denver Bronco saw is a sign of things to come down the road as he would provide the Seahawks with a third true pass catching threat. The second tweet shows us how Will Dissly has been used this year as he has three receiving touchdowns on the year, which only trails Lockett and Metcalf for the team lead. For starters this is an unbelievable throw by Geno Smith as he put it in a spot where the defender would not be able to make a play on the ball; Dissly does have to get some credit as well. He gets his head around early to locate the ball and he is able to adjust his body whilst running up field in order to put himself in position to make the grab.

Predicted edge- Tampa Bay linebackers

Devin White and Lavonte David are one of the best linebackER duos in the league. When tasked with taking either Dissly or Fant in zone or man coverage this week I think the backers will comfortably hold them in check due to the IQ, physicality and speed they bring to the table giving them the edge.

Metcalf and Lockett vs Jamal Dean and Carlton Davis

Metcalf and Lockett are not posting the elite numbers compared to other recent seasons, although both are still above-average receivers giving the Seahawks a great one-two punch. In the past we have discussed what Metcalf brings to the table as an after the catch threat, so for this section we are going to focus on Metcalf in the red zone. The Ole Miss alum is not as tall as Evans nor does he have his length, but his athleticism and strength should allow him to be a bigger red zone threat than he currently is used as. On the first tweet we see Geno Smith make an absolutely beautiful throw, but these are some of the routes that Metcalf should more often be running in the red zone. If the back shoulder throw was not an option for Geno, he easily could’ve thrown the ball up high to Metcalf and with his natural gifts as a receiver you would expect him to go up and come down with the ball. Hopefully as the season progresses, we will see Shane Waldron put Metcalf in more situations at or near the end zone where he is used on front and back pylon fades similar to how Mike Evans is used.

Lockett is just about as reliable as they come, which is shown on the second video. On third and long he finds a soft spot in the zone defense, sits down and takes a massive hit to pick up the first down. Lockett is often criticized for going down and avoiding contact, but when needed he will take this kind of hit to secure a catch.

Predicted edge- Metcalf and Lockett

I don’t think Lockett and Metcalf are going to get many looks in this one as I believe the offense is going to be predicated on the run and getting the ball to the tight ends in the play action passing game. However, I do expect for Lockett and Metcalf to come up with 2-3 big plays on Sunday which gives them the slight edge over Dean and Carlton.

Score prediction - Seahawks 24 Bucs 21

Last week recap

Zach Ertz vs the linebackers

Predicted edge - Ertz - Actual edge - The linebackers

Ertz had a decent day in terms of the box score as scored 1 touchdown and registered 40 yards on 5 catches. His one touchdown came with Woolen covering him and he did not make any critical catches when covered by Seattle’s linebackers. As a result, the backers get the edge in this one.

Arizona front 7 vs Kenneth Walker lll

Predicted edge - Walker lll - Actual edge - Walker lll

Kenneth Walker lll did Kenneth Walker lll things in this one as he forced a multitude of missed tackles, rushed for 109 yards and scored 2 rushing touchdowns. In addition to that he caught 3 passes for 20 yards. The dominant statistical and on field performance makes Walker lll the clear winner in this one.

Tariq Woolen vs Deandre Hopkins

Predicted edge - Hopkins - Actual edge Woolen

Coming off of consecutive 100+ yard receiving games Hopkins was held in check by the star rookie corner. Woolen was routinely left on an island against Hopkins and Murray hardly looked his way on Sunday. Woolen is quickly becoming a true shutdown corner.

DK Metcalf vs Byron Murphy

Predicted edge - Murphy - Actual edge - Murphy

Despite catching 5 passes and scoring a touchdown, Metcalf’s impact on this game was rather minimal as he only had 37 receiving yards with a long of 9. This is the fourth full game that Metcalf has played in this season in which he has been held to 37 yards or fewer, which is starting to become a concerning trend.

Score prediction

Seahawks 27 Cardinals 20

Right result and somewhat close to the actual score.

(All advanced stats cited provided by Pro Football Reference)