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Seahawks vs. Broncos preview: 3 key matchups for Week 1 showdown

Chicago Bears v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks’ Week 1 matchup against the Denver Broncos will be a great early-season measuring stick game for a lot of their key players and position groups, and not just the storyline of Russell Wilson’s return to Seattle.

At the moment, DraftKings Sportsbook has the Seahawks as 6.5-point underdogs, which is a sizable point spread given the game is at home. There’s expected to be a sizable disparity in quarterback play, but there are other things at play that could determine the outcome of this one.

The biggest matchup this game will feature is second year corner Patrick Surtain ll against DK Metcalf. In addition to that battle, we will see how rookie tackles Abe Lucas and Charles Cross fare against two of the better edge rushers in the league in Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory. Lastly, we will see Javonte Williams going up against a revamped linebackers unit headlined by Jordyn Brooks. Below we are going to evaluate all three of these matchups and who has the edge going into Monday Night Football.

Charles Cross and Abe Lucas vs Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory

In Chubb and Gregory, the Seahawks are facing one of the best edge rushing tandems in the NFL. Staying on the field has been a problem for both players as Chubb, who is entering his fifth season in the NFL has only played in 41 games, whilst Gregory has only played in 50 games since joining the league in 2015. When they do play, they are high end players. Last season Gregory was tied for 29th in QB hits with 17, 35th in pressures with 29 and tied for 39th in hurries with 12. Those rankings might not pop off the screen, however they are right in line with Von Miller’s production from last season. Chubb was not his usual self-last season as he did not register a sack and only totaled 4 QB hits and 10 pressures. He is healthy now and when healthy he has been dominant. In his 2018 and 2020 seasons combined he played in 30 games and was able to amass 70 pressures, 19.5 sacks and 40 QB hits.

As shown in both videos, Gregory and Chubb have a diverse pass rushing repertoire to attack Cross and Lucas with throughout the game. Going up against high-end edges is not foreign for either tackle though. Lucas went head-to-head with former Oregon star Kayvon Thibodeaux in college last season and Cross has played Alabama twice and Georgia once in his three seasons with Mississippi State. Granted, the NFL is played at a different speed, especially regular season games so there is still likely to be some sort of adjustment period for the bookend tackles despite how good the two of them have looked this preseason.

The edge - Gregory and Chubb - I do not expect Cross and Lucas to be liabilities or anything close to that Monday night. I do believe however that because of how refined Chubb and Gregory are as pass rushers that they will win their fair share of battles against the rookies, especially as the game wears on.

Patrick Surtain ll vs DK Metcalf

This is certainly the most intriguing individual matchups for this game between two of the sport’s top young talents. Despite this only being his second season in the NFL, Surtain ll has already established himself as one of the top corners in the league. Last season amongst qualified corners he had the seventh lowest passer rating against with a 61.3 rating, the 13th fewest yards allowed per target with 5.7, and the 8th lowest completion percentage against at 51 percent. Surtain is also one of the most athletically gifted corners in the league; his Relative Athletic Score (RAS), which measures and compares a players combine numbers was a 9.96 out of 10, the 8th highest cornerback score from 1987 to 2021. There are very few corners who can go toe to toe with Metcalf in terms of length and athleticism but Surtain ll is one of them.

The edge - Surtain ll - I expect Metcalf to do the majority of his damage in this game when lined up away from the second-year corner. Look for Shane Waldron to try and use Metcalf in the slot and in motion more often than usual to either have him avoid Surtain ll or give him an advantage off of the snap. When Metcalf is lined up against Surtain ll, I do foresee the Alabama product winning the majority of the reps.

Javonte Williams vs Jordyn Brooks

This feels like one of those “something has to give” matchups. Among players with 100 or more combined tackles last season, Brooks was tied for the sixth lowest missed tackle percentage at 4.7 percent. On the flip side, Javonte Williams led all running backs in both missed tackles forced and rushing attempts per broken tackle. The second-year back had one more missed tackle forced than Najee Harris, who finished second but also had 104 more rushing attempts than Williams. Where this matchup gets every more interesting for me is in the passing game. Williams only averaged 2.5 receptions per game last season, although that is a number that will likely rise this season. Brooks was a below-average coverage linebacker last season allowing a passer rating against of 118.1 and a completion percentage against of 80.2 percent. This is an area Broncos play caller Nathaniel Hackett might look to exploit throughout the game.

The edge - Running game - Brooks - Passing game Williams - This is going to be a great back-and-forth battle against two of the best players at their respective craft. With how sticky of a tackler Brooks is I do expect him to win more battles than not in the running game. In the passing game I do expect Williams to beat Brooks on the majority of his routes. The key for Brooks is going to be wrapping him up immediately after the catch, because Javonte Williams in the open field is one of the scariest sites an opposing defense can face.

(All advanced stats cited provided by Pro Football Reference/Stathead)