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Seahawks vs Bengals game preview: Will pass rush decide the game?

The Seahawks begin their stretch of three AFC opponents over the next four weeks by taking on the Cincinnati Bengals.

Cincinnati Bengals v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks enter Week 6 coming off of their bye, with their last game ending in a 24-3 shellacking of the New York Giants. They had 11 sacks, 10 of which were on Daniel Jones, forced three turnovers and averaged 5.3 yards a carry on the ground. Their matchup this week is against one of the scarier teams on paper in the Cincinnati Bengals, but they are a team that has limped to a 2-3 record. A large portion of their struggles is due to a Joe Burrow calf injury that has caused the offense to be largely sluggish and inefficient. Despite that though, they are a very talented roster and play at home so they are a three-point favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook.

Ja’Marr Chase vs the Seahawks secondary

As Ja’Marr Chase said before their game against the Arizona Cardinals, he is always - open, with a word being left out of there, and it is difficult to argue with him. In Week 5 he tallied 192 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns on 15 receptions, which I think is pretty good. Chase is one of the three or four best receivers in the NFL but because of the offensive struggles for Cincy, he has almost slipped under the radar. Despite picking up just 70 combined yards in their first two games, Chase is still 8th in the NFL in receiving yards, ahead of the likes of Devante Adams and Ceedee Lamb.

One of the things that makes Chase so good is he can create natural separation on any route. On the first play, Chase is able to create separation in the second phase of the route. At first he runs a simple dig to the back of the end zone but it's covered well. But when he recognizes Joe Burrow is fading in the pocket he breaks off the route and flips it the other way creating a ton of separation.

On the second play, we do not have the All-22 so there is some guess work involved, but Chase is lined up off of the line in the slot on the bottom of the screen. He runs what appears to be a post route against a Cover 3 zone defense and he just blows right by everyone. The most impressive part of the play is Chase’s ability to track the ball into his hands and make what is a relatively impressive hands catch in stride without slowing down or losing his route.

Trey Hendrickson vs the Seattle offensive line

Quietly, Trey Hendrickson has been one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL since the start of the 2020 season. The seventh-year pro already has 6 sacks in the early going of the season which is tied for second in the NFL this season. He is also4th in the league in sacks since Week 1 of the 2020 season with 41.5. Hendrickson is a pass rusher with a full tool kit of moves, two of which he puts on show in the two plays above. In the first one he attacks DJ Humphries with a bull rush where he goes right through the left tackle, who could not reset his feet. Hendrickson also intelligently goes for a swipe at the ball at first before bringing down Joshua Dobbs for the sack. On the second play, Hendrickson attacks Humphries with a chop move to his outside hand which allows Hendrickson to easily gain the edge for the strip sack.

Seahawks pass rush vs the Cincinnati offensive line

As discussed above, Joe Burrow is playing with a hurt calf which is limiting his ability to both maneuver the pocket and extend plays. As a result of that, the pass rush and creating traffic at the feet of Joe Burrow is going to be essential for Seattle to pick up the win. In two games this season in which Burrow has been pressured at least 27.3 percent of the time, Burrow has a combined 247 passing yards on 61 attempts and Cincy has combined to score 6 points in those two games. In the 3 games he has been pressured no more than 13.7 percent of the time, he has thrown for 798 passing yards on 136 attempts and Cincy has scored a combined 77 points. It is unrealistic to expect Seattle’s pass rushing to be sitting in the mid to high 20’s as they don’t have players like Myles Garrett and Jeffery Simmons, but they still have some solid pass rushers in Uchenna Nwosu and second year breakout edge Boye Mafe.

There’s disrespectful pass rushes and then there is what Boye Mafe did to the Giants left tackle on the first play. There was nothing complex to the move as the former Minnesota Golden Gopher simply ran through him with a bull rush right to the chest. The second play highlights what the combination of Mafe and Nwosu can do together. Mafe attacks right tackle Evan Neal with a swipe to his outside hand which allows him to beat Neal and force Daniel Jones to step up in the pocket. Nwosu, who is the right end, slants down and occupies both the left tackle and guard which allows Bobby Wagner to loop in for the sack.

Seattle linebackers vs Joe Mixon

Joe Mixon has the talent necessary to be one of the league’s best running backs week in and week out. But for whatever reason this is not something we see on a consistent basis from the former Oklahoma Sooner. His rushing yards per attempt this year of 3.9 is tied for 25th with the likes of Najee Harris and Ezekiel Elliott, and his rushing success rate is tied for 24th at 47.6 percent. That’s not to say Mixon is a bad running back by any means ,but more so to highlight the step back he has taken this year. It is going to be important though for Seattle to continue to contain him to make Cincy one-dimensional. While it is weird to say you want to force Joe Burrow to throw the ball, if Seattle can maximize the amount of obvious passing situations, their pass rushers will be able to pin their ears back and get a higher pressure rate, which is going to be the key in this game.

The defensive line is obviously going to play a role, but if Joe Mixon struggles continue into Sunday it is going to be due to Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks. As we all know Bobby Wagner is one of the best linebackers at taking on stacking and shedding linemen and making a tackle on the play, something we can see in the first tweet. Wagner takes on the Gaints right tackle, who slants down too hard, gets to the side of him and then Wagner makes a tackle at the line of scrimmage. In the second play we see the sideline to sideline speed that Jordyn Brooks features which is going to help eliminate outside running plays for Cincy as well as some of their short passing game to Joe Mixon.