The Seahawks return home to CenturyLink Field to take on the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday (October 30th) after losing an ugly game to the Browns in Cleveland. The loss dropped Seattle to a record of two wins and four losses on the season, and the Seahawks desperately need a win to keep their slender playoff hopes alive.
The Bengals won just four games last year and appeared to be a franchise in flux (as they have often appeared in the last decade). Starting quarterback Carson Palmer refused to return to the team (and was finally traded last week), and has been replaced by impressive rookie Andy Dalton.
Dalton has made some mistakes this year, but all rookies do. What has been so impressive about Dalton is his ability to play well in close games and display composure not often seen out of a rookie. He’s spearheaded the Bengal offense on their current three game winning streak, and has provided them with consistent offense to match their stingy defense (which allows the second fewest yards per game of any of the teams in the league).
The Bengal defense has been a good one ever since defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer arrived four years ago. This year, Cincinnati’s defense has been among the league’s best, and has helped the Bengals propel themselves into the AFC playoff discussion with a surprising 4-2 start. After Cleveland’s defense stifled Seattle last week, holding the Seahawks to just three points, an even tougher task awaits Seattle this week.
Still, there are reasons to be optimistic about the possibility of a win for the home team. Tarvaris Jackson has been recovering from a strained pectoral muscle and is probable for this week’s game – AND Max Unger, Marshawn Lynch, Zach Miller, and Kam Chancellor all have a good chance of overcoming injury in time to be ready for this weekend’s game. With the return of Jackson, I hope to see a return to the up-tempo offense (and success) the Seahawks had been having prior to his injury.
Last week, Charlie Whitehurst was finally given the opportunity to start a game for Seattle this season. He had played better (statistically) than Jackson during the preseason, and many fans had hoped to see him get his chance in the starting lineup. Whitehurst had a tough time getting anything going though, and I think it would now be tough to convince Coach Pete Carroll that Jackson isn’t the best quarterback on the team.
Although Whitehurst did not play particularly well last week, it wasn’t just his fault that the offense came grinding to a halt after several good weeks. Losing Marshawn Lynch to back spasms before kickoff dealt the Seahawk chances a major blow. The Seahawks were unable to get their ground game going, and were very predictable (the threat of the run did not scare the Browns, and who just shut down the passing game). The success of Lynch and the other running backs will be crucial this week to help the offense get into favorable down and distance situations, and will take pressure off the passing game. Lynch is by far the best between-the-tackles runner on the team (the best inside runner), and his health in general will likely need to hold up for Seattle to make any sort of winning streak.
While I don’t really like the matchup of the Seahawk offense against the Bengal defense, I think the Seahawk defense will have another excellent week. The Bengals will be without star running back Cedric Benson, who will miss this week’s game due to suspension. He will be replaced by Bernard Scott, a capable runner, but one who does not possess nearly the same talent as Benson. I expect Scott to have a rough day against the enormous Seahawk front, putting the pressure on the aforementioned Andy Dalton to provide offense for Cincinnati. Last week, the Seahawks had success making the Browns into a passing team – they can do it again this week against the Bengals. It will be interesting to see how the deafening noise at CenturyLink Field effects Dalton, who is just at the beginning of his career, and likely has not played in as hostile an environment as the one he’s about to.
As ugly as last week’s 6-3 slugfest against the Browns was, I don’t expect anything much prettier this week against Cincinnati. More points will be scored, but not many, and I think this game will come down to the turnover battle and special teams. If the crowd and Seahawk defense can force Dalton into a few mistakes, the Seahawks should have no trouble putting up enough points to get a win.
Because of the Seahawks’ complete lack of success following any of my score predictions this season, I’m going to pass on making another one this week. All I’ll say is I expect a physical, fairly low-scoring affair in which Seattle has every chance of coming out on top.
About the Author
Written by Erik Olsoy
Erik was born in Columbus, Ohio during the only Ohio State football victory over Michigan in the 1980s, but moved to Washington state and grew up there. His loyalty to Ohio State remains strong, but his strongest allegiances developed toward Seattle sports. Though he recently graduated from Boston College, he has not yet been converted to the ways of New England Sportsdom, and only roots for the Red Sox against the Yankees because the Yankees are the root of all evil.