In Week 9, the 5-2 Seattle Seahawks will host the 2-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks, who swept past the Atlanta Falcons last week, are building momentum for their Week 10 matchup against the undefeated San Francisco 49ers.
Facing the floundering Buccaneers gives Seattle a prime opportunity for a dominating victory. It’s the perfect lead-in for a game against San Francisco.
4. Seattle’s improving pass rush
When Seattle acquired Jadeveon Clowney before the start of the season, they expected more from him than what he has produced so far. The three-time Pro Bowler has just two sacks and seven quarterback hits this season. He recorded at least nine sacks and 21 quarterback hits in both of his previous two seasons.
That being said, Clowney is coming off of his best pass-rushing performance. In Week 8, he posted a sack and four quarterback hits, doubling his production in both areas. Jameis Winston has been sacked 28 times this season. Only Andy Dalton has faced more pressure. If Clowney is going to carry momentum from Week 8 into Week 9, he could fill out his mediocre production.
Week 9 is Jarran Reed’s third game with the Seahawks since he returned from suspension. Reed contributed 10.5 sacks last season. Perhaps the young defensive tackle, who doesn’t have a sack this season, will re-establish himself against Tampa Bay.
3. Air dominance
While the Buccaneers have the best run defense in the NFL by far, their secondary is lacking. The Buccaneers give up 285.9 yards through the air per game, which ranks 31st in the league. Only the Detroit Lions give up more yards to opposing air attacks.
The Seahawks are in the perfect position to capitalize on Tampa Bay’s weakness. Russell Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and he’s currently averaging a career-high 265.9 passing yards per game.
Seattle doesn’t have an embarrassment of pass-catchers, but Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf are more than enough to punish Tampa Bay’s secondary. Lockett is averaging 76.9 receiving yards per game, which ranks 14th among receivers with at least 20 receptions. Metcalf is coming off of the first multi-touchdown game of his career.
While his receivers may not be All-Pro superstars, Wilson has a way of making his teammates better and fully utilizing their potential.
2. Wilson reviving MVP candidacy
This goes hand and hand with the previous point. Wilson is having the best year of his career. His 115.5 passer rating is the highest among starting quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s also leading the league with 17 passing touchdowns. Wilson and Patrick Mahomes are the only two quarterbacks with 100 or more pass attempts and just one interception thrown.
The Baltimore Ravens got the better of Wilson in Week 7 and he was good but not great against the Falcons this past week. Against Tampa Bay’s suffocating run defense, the Seahawks will turn to Wilson for victory. He’s in for a big game and a serious boost for his MVP candidacy.
1. Jameis Winston’s mistakes
Tampa Bay’s quarterback must flip a coin each week to determine how he plays. Heads mean he’ll look like a real former No. 1 overall pick. Tails mean he’ll turn the ball over every other drive. He must have flipped tails these past two weeks.
In Weeks 2-5, Winston threw ten touchdowns and two interceptions. He posted a 111.6 passer rating during that time. In his last two games, Winston has thrown three touchdowns to seven interceptions and has fumbled five times. His passer rating during that span is 56.3.
The Seahawks don’t have a dominant defense. Except for a few players, Seattle is fairly mediocre on that side of the ball. However, Winston is in the business of making defenses look good. The Seahawks’ greatest strength in Week 9 is their opponent’s weakness.