It’s the eve of Christmas Eve, which that can mean only one thing for fans of the Seattle Seahawks - that is that it is time to read this week’s preview of the Hawks Christmas Eve battle against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Helping to preview this matchup against the one-time division rival Chiefs is Jared Sapp of Arrowhead Pride, and without wasting any further time, here are his answers to the five questions posed of him.
1. With just a few weeks left in the regular season, how has 2022 gone for Kansas City relative to expectations? What have been the biggest surprises (good or bad) and how are Chiefs fans feeling heading into the postseason?
I think most people realistically expected the Chiefs to still be a very good team but to possibly take a step back without Tyreek Hill. And that has made things more frustrating the last month because we spent much of the season looking like one of the best teams in football. Then the last few games, the Chiefs have been very inconsistent even against some very weak opponents. The good surprise has been Patrick Mahomes having a chance to break the single season passing record even without Hill. A bad surprise would be a young defense that showed really good potential early in the season not just failing to improve but situationally playing very badly down the stretch.
2. This offseason will be four years since the Hawks traded Frank Clark to the Chiefs for a number of draft picks. Clark has largely been a disappointment with Kansas City, while the players the Seahawks selected with the picks (L.J. Collier, Alton Robinson, Damien Lewis and Cody Barton) have not developed as well as many had hoped. How do Chiefs fans feel about the trade now?
The Super Bowl victory complicates the legacy. Clark has not proven worthy of the draft picks surrendered or the massive contract. But he also was a big part of a championship run. There’s also the paradox of he always seems like a beloved teammate and every time he speaks to the media you always come away cheering for him. Yet he is continually plagued by stomach issues that keep him in and out of the lineup and his legal issues loomed over two offseasons. After contract restructure to keep him on the team this season, it looks highly doubtful Clark will play his final season under contract in 2023.
3. Fans know the big names like Mahomes and Kelce and all the rest. Who is a player on each side of the ball that Seahawks fans may not be familiar with heading into the game who could make a significant impact?
On offense, it has to be running back Isiah Pacheco. The seventh-round rookie has been the early down back over the season’s second half. He will not be fun to tackle on a cold day, but he has had some ball security issues that could haunt him in the elements. On a day the Seahawks are almost certain to come out wanting to run the ball down Kansas City’s throat, second year linebacker Nick Bolton will make an impact one way or the other. Whether he is getting through blocks and finishing tackles or having to pursue Seattle running backs after five yard gains will go a long way to determining the outcome.
4. The remainder of the schedule for Kansas City is not very daunting. This matchup against the Seahawks, followed by games against the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders. Any concerns about the team potentially looking forward to the playoffs and taking these upcoming opponents too lightly. Won’t lie, I’m most concerned about making sure the Chiefs are focused and ready to beat the Broncos in Week 17.
After watching the Chiefs struggle to put away the Broncos and Texans the past two weeks, there is definitely some concern about taking teams lightly. The Chiefs clinched their seventh consecutive division title last weekend, but you would never know it through all the doom and gloom in the fanbase. And the Raiders could conceivably be playing for a Wild Card spot in Week 18. I do think that the Chiefs will probably have some urgency to clean up some of the problems the last month has shown. The number one seed and bye still being possible should keep them from looking too far ahead.
5. DraftKings Sportsbook currently has the Chiefs favored by 10 and an over/under of 49, both of which seem a little high given the weather forecast. What’s your prediction for the game?
With two defenses that have struggled against the run down the stretch, I think both teams are going to feature a heavy dose of running backs, which should reduce the number of positions. So I will take the under. I think the Chiefs will outlast the Seahawks in the cold, but I’m not going to take them to cover -10. I’m going with Chiefs 24, Seahawks 16.
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