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Seahawks vs Chiefs preview: Highlighting 4 key matchups for Christmas Eve showdown

The Seahawks are trying to keep their playoff hopes alive in a cold Arrowhead Stadium against the Chiefs.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

As a result of their loss last Thursday night to the San Francisco 49ers, the Seattle Seahawks have now lost four of their last five games, with their only win coming against the lowly Los Angeles Rams. Hope is not lost though for the Seahawks and their pursuit of the playoffs, but they are no longer in control of their destiny. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, in what is another need-to-have-it game, they have to travel to Arrowhead to take on the AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs.

As a result of Seattle’s poor play, the game being at Arrowhead and the Chiefs being one of the league’s most dominant teams, DraftKings Sportsbook has the Seahawks as the biggest underdog this week with K.C. being a 10-point favorite. If Seattle wants any chance to keep this game close, they are going to have to contain the Chiefs top three players and then win a few matchups where they might have the edge.

Patrick Mahomes vs the secondary

I don’t want to blow anyone’s minds by saying this, but Patrick Mahomes is pretty good at football. Mahomes is a do everything quarterback who keeps opposing defensive coordinators up at night because of how good he is at every single aspect of the game. He can extend plays and make any throw in the book from any platform whilst being hit, as we can see in the first play. The second video is some of his best plays from this season, all of which only himself and maybe Josh Allen can make.

Mahomes is the type of player that you more so hope to contain rather than stop, because let’s be honest you cannot stop a player as good as Mahomes. The most important thing for Seattle is going to be keeping him in the pocket and preventing him from extending plays, meaning the pass rush is going to be crucial in this one. If you let Mahomes get outside the tackles and run around for 4-5 seconds he is going to kill this defense. It will be interesting to see if or how often Clint Hurtt employs a spy against Mahomes to try and prevent those types of plays from happening.

The edge - Mahomes

This one is pretty easy. The only defenses in the league that would have a shot at having the edge over Mahomes are the 49ers and the Buffalo Bills and Seattle’s defense is on a different universe compared to those two. Mahomes did throw three interceptions against the Denver Broncos two weeks ago, so Seattle’s biggest hope is going to be to hope he makes a mistake or two that leads them to stealing a couple of possessions.

Travis Kelce vs the secondary

As if having Mahomes wasn’t enough this is a Chiefs offense that also has one of if not the best tight end in NFL history in Travis Kelce. The former Cincinnati Bearcat is a game wrecker, and like Mahomes he does not have a weakness to his game. He is a fantastic route runner as shown in the first video. He runs a whip route on Denzel Ward who has been one of the better and more consistent corners since he entered the league. Kelce gets Ward to flip his hips outside and then Kelce flips his hips, creating a ton of separation leading to Ward ending up on the floor.

The second video highlights Kelce’s best ability which is what he can do after the catch. Yes, there was some pretty poor tackling on the play, but he still shows off fantastic contact balance, vision and enough speed to beat defenders to the spot. Similar to defending Mahomes, I am very curious to see how Hurtt plans on attacking Kelce. Seattle does not have anyone good enough to cover Kelce on an island, especially when he lines up inside. Kelce’s “worst” game of the season came against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 5 where he had 25 yards, albeit with 4 touchdowns. Vegas defended him by chipping him with their defensive edges when he was lined up off the tackles and by pressing him and being physical off of the line of scrimmage when he was lined up outside so that approach is something to watch for come Saturday.

The edge - Kelce

This is another easy edge as personally I do not see how the Seahawks are going to be able to contain Kelce. George Kittle just posted a stat line of 4 grabs for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns against Seattle and I can see Kelce having a similar day in terms of yardage with maybe a few more receptions.

Chris Jones vs the Seahawks interior offensive line

Another week, another dominant defensive lineman for the Seahawks to deal with. The Mississippi State Bulldog is in the midst of the second-best season of his career. Thus far he has 11 sacks which is tied for 7th in the NFL, and 12 tackles for loss which is tied for 13th. Jones is a great athlete with fantastic play strength and elite hands which allows him to be one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the league. The first video highlights the impact that Jones is capable of making in the running and passing game. On the first play he uses his length and strength to two gap whilst keeping his eyes in the backfield, so he could see where the ball carrier was going. Once that is determined he sheds the blocker and makes the tackle right at the line of scrimmage.

On the second play Jones is able to attack the offensive lineman with a quick swipe move which leads to an easy sack. In the second tweet we can see another one of the moves in Jones’ toolbox which is a swim. Off of the line Jones takes a step straight up field to get the lineman to anticipate something straight on or to his outside shoulder. Once the lineman commits that way Jones hits him with a quick swim move and brings down Bryce Perkins for another sack.

The edge - Jones

Seattle’s interior offensive line held up well against Derrick Brown two games ago, but Jones is too good of a player for them to stop him. On his day he is a game wrecker, although I do not think he is going to have that kind of outing against the Seahawks. However, it is certainly safe to assume he will get 1-2 tackles for a loss with a couple of pressures and maybe a sack which is enough to give him the edge.

DK Metcalf vs L’Jarius Sneed

If Seattle has any shot in this game Metcalf is going to have to take it over. Seattle is thin at wide receiver due to Tyler Lockett breaking a finger against the Niners last week, so more responsibility is going to fall upon Metcalf. The former Ole Miss Rebel has picked up his play of late as over his last four games he is averaging 85.8 yards and 7.8 catches. A significant uptick from the 54.3 yards per game and 5.7 yards per catch he averaged in his three prior games before that stretch.

The tweet above highlights a lot of what happened in the 49ers game last week. Metcalf had another 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty called against him as things got chippy between him and the Niners defense in addition to the fact that he struggled to create much separation. Part of that is due to how Shane Waldron has used him this year, putting him in situations that I do not think are truly advantageous to his skillset, but I will discuss that in more detail in another article. Sneed is a player who does play with a bit of attitude, so it is going to be imperative this week for Metcalf to not get baited into any drive killing penalties. Additionally, Ward is an aggressive corner so hopefully we see Metcalf used on some double moves to try and set up a few big plays for this offense which is much needed against a team like Kansas City.

The edge - Metcalf

DK has the slight edge in this one because of how he has been playing of late. Sneed is a good corner, although he is not the shutdown type of corner who can keep Metcalf contained throughout the course of a game. I think DK is going to get around 80 yards in this one on 7 catches giving him the slight edge.

Score prediction

Chiefs 30 - Seahawks 17

Last week recap

McCaffrey vs the Seattle front 7

Predicted edge - McCaffrey - Actual edge - McCaffrey

This one was not close. CMC rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries to go along with 6 catches for 30 yards. The yards per carry of 4.2 was certainly lower than I expected it to be, however CMC still dominated throughout as he was routinely able to turn carries that should have gone for 2-3 yards into totes that went for at least 6 yards.

Brandon Aiyuk vs Tariq Woolen

Predicted edge - Woolen - Actual edge - Woolen

Aiyuk was only targeted four times for two catches and 19 yards in this one which is largely consistent with his inconsistent usage in this offense. Part of that is because San Fran only threw the ball 26 times for 217 yards, 93 of which went to George Kittle, but also in part because Woolen prevented him from creating too much separation when covering him. The low box score numbers as well as the strong reps Woolen had against Aiyuk gives him the clear edge.

San Fran linebacker's vs the Seattle quick passing game

Predicted edge - San Fran linebacker’s - Actual edge - San Fran linebacker’s

Seattle struggled to get much going through the air as Geno Smith threw for 238 yards on 44 attempts. Noah Fant had 5 catches but only for 32 yards with a long of 12 and Kenneth Walker lll had 32 yards on 4 catches with a long of 33 meaning besides that catch, his other 3 went for -1 yard. Seattle did look to the outside with Metcalf and Lockett more so than the middle of the field but even if they wanted to attack in between the numbers with regularity, they were unable to Thursday giving the backers the edge.

San Fran secondary vs Geno Smith

Predicted edge - San Fran secondary - Actual edge - San Fran secondary

Despite not throwing an interception against the Niners (which only happened after a roughing the passer negated a pick-6), Geno struggled. He averaged 5.4 yards per attempt which is a very poor number and he had multiple bad throws which led to incompletions on should’ve been completions. On one play where San Fran’s secondary lacked some eye discipline, he was able to throw a touchdown to Noah Fant, although he did not have nearly enough success to give him the edge here.

(All advanced stats cited provided by Pro Football Reference)