Seattle Seahawks

Oakland Raiders vs. Seattle Seahawks: Breaking Down Seattle’s Game Plan

The Seattle Seahawks had a not-so-inspiring 13-9 win over the Carolina Panthers over the weekend for the third time in as many years. Seattle’s offense erred on three trips to the red zone and toiled to score just one touchdown in the game. 

That Seattle’s offense made a defense that had allowed 37-plus points in four of its last five games is a bad sign for an offense that appears to be regressing. The Seahawks defense took a step forward, as it finally was able to generate a pass rush and capitalized twice on a copious amount of turnover opportunities. 

The Seahawks will play host to the 0-7 Oakland Raiders this week. The opening lines for the game started with Seattle being 15.5-point favorites, according to Odds Shark. The line has since fluctuated to making the Raiders anywhere from 15 to 16.5-point underdogs.

While Seattle’s Week 8 win over the Panthers was close to dire, the team cannot be happy with their performance in the game or the last three weeks. Week 9′s game against the Oakland Raiders could prove to be a glimpse of how out of sync the Seahawks have become or serve as a major confidence booster.

Seattle remained in third in the NFC West, pulling even with the San Francisco 49ers at 4-3. The Seahawks still sit two games behind the Arizona Cardinals, who visit Seattle during Week 12 for the first of the team’s two annual games against one another.

 

On Defense

The Seahawks front four was finally able to generate a pass rush consistently, despite having to wait until the final minute of the game to get two of their three sacks last week. The goal will be to pressure the Raiders rookie starting quarterback into making some mistakes against an improving Seattle secondary.

The defense hurried Panthers quarterback Cam Newton 15 times in the game, with only one of them coming from a linebacker or a member of the secondary. Oakland has allowed just eight sacks this season, with the majority of the offensive line proving adept in pass-blocking. 

Right guard Austin Howard has been the one gaping hole in Oakland offensive line so far this year. Everyone else in the unit has a positive rating from Pro Football Focus. When the Raiders bring people in to help out on obvious passing plays, they have failed as well. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who has since lost hi starting role, and TE Mychal Rivera have both struggled with pass protection.

The Raiders offensive line should prove to be a major test on Seattle’s pass rush, testing to see if Week 8′s performance was truly a step in the right direction or not. Derek Carr has been solid under pressure, but, like most quarterbacks, more bad things will happen then good if he‘s under duress.

Of Carr’s six interceptions this season, four have come while he was being pressured. He has completed about 47.3 percent of his passes, which is about middle of the pack (14th). Russell Wilson has completed 48.1 percent of his throws when forced from the pocket.

Oakland has the league‘s worst rushing attack, and Carr isn’t exactly fleet of foot. Seattle opted to focus on keeping Cam Newton contained last week, allowing Jonathan Stewart to make some nice gains. Stewart didn’t end up taking over the game, making it a good gamble for the Seahawks.

With Carr at quarterback, I expect Seattle to be able to better focus on getting after Carr. The secondary will need to make sure to keep WR Andre Holmes in front of them. Kelvin Benjamin’s 51-yard reception late in Seattle’s win last week could have easily been the deciding factor in a loss.

Holmes already has 14 receptions of 10-plus yards after being inserted into the starting lineup in Week 4.

 

 

On Offense

Russell Wilson has been hit-or-miss over the last four weeks. The Seahawks quarterback played extremely well in games against the Washington Redskins and St. Louis Rams, but he turned in some subpar play in games against the Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers.

Marshawn Lynch is eighth in the league in rushing yards with 482 yards, but he hasn’t been given the opportunity to take over a game in some time. The perennial Pro Bowler has just one 100-yard game, which came during Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers.

This week‘s matchup with Oakland should provide a great opportunity to keep Lynch involved throughout the game. He had a poor outing in the passing game, dropping three passes, but he‘s been a great escape valve for Wilson for most of the year.

While Doug Baldwin has stepped into his new role as the team‘s No. 1 receiver, Jermaine Kearse has not been able to play a bigger part in the offense. Despite an increased role and fewer options surrounding him, Kearse has been limited to five catches for 65 yards over the last two weeks. With no Percy Harvin and a bevy of injuries at tight end, the Seahawks rookie receivers have contributed more over the last two weeks.

The Seahawks have been flirting with turning the ball over several times, and they are lucky last week‘s two-turnover game was the first in a while from the offense. Russell Wilson will need to gain back the rhythm that helped hold this unit together for much of last year.

I expect a slowed-down, run-heavy approach this week with several mid-range to deep strikes from Wilson to keep the Raiders defense honest.

Read more Seattle Seahawks news on BleacherReport.com

Oakland Raiders vs. Seattle Seahawks: Betting Odds, Analysis, NFL Pick

The Oakland Raiders will be big underdogs when they visit the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday and remain the last winless team in the NFL following a 23-13 loss at Cleveland last week.

The Raiders are 9-3 against the spread in their last 12 games as double-digit underdogs while the Seahawks are 12-4-1 ATS in their past 17 as double-digit home favorites since 2003.

 

Point Spread: Seahawks opened as 15.5-point favorites. The total was 42.5 early in the week.

Odds Shark Computer Pick: Seahawks 29.9, Raiders 9.4

 

Why the Raiders Can Cover the Spread

First of all, Oakland is 8-3 ATS vs. Seattle in the last 11 meetings between these teams. Granted, they have not played since 2010, when the Raiders routed the Seahawks 33-3 as two-point home favorites, and seven of those covers also resulted in wins.

But this is a huge spread, and Oakland has gone 9-3 ATS in its previous 12 as a double-digit dog.

The Raiders do not have many games that they get up for outside of divisional matchups, but this is certainly one of them.

They were able to cover their last AFC West game against the San Diego Chargers in a 31-28 loss as 7.5-point dogs, and you can bet they will want to take their best shot at the defending Super Bowl champions here.

 

Why the Seahawks Can Cover the Spread

Seattle’s defense may be hurting a bit right now, but it’s still among the best in the league and proved that again last week in a 13-9 road win against the Carolina Panthers.

Oakland will struggle to score at CenturyLink Field and has averaged just 12 points per game on the road this year with a high of 14 in the season opener.

Despite totalling only 13 points at Carolina against another good defense, the Seahawks are certainly capable of scoring, averaging nearly 26 per game in the previous four.

The Raiders have allowed an average of 29 points to their last four opponents, so facing this defense is just what Seattle needs to get its offense back on track sans Percy Harvin.

 

Smart Pick

The Seahawks have failed to cover the spread in three straight games, which has not happened to them in the regular season since 2010. Last year, they followed up consecutive non-covers on two occasions by winning big in the next game by an average of almost 18 points.

Seattle is going through some issues that every defending Super Bowl champ must face, including how to keep players happy and motivated during another potential title run.

If any opponent can cure those ills, it’s the Raiders. Oakland is just 3-8 ATS in its past 11 games and will be playing a team that is chasing the Arizona Cardinals for the NFC West lead.

The Seahawks will win this one in a rout.

 

Betting Trends

  • Oakland is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games when playing Seattle.
  • Seattle is 18-6 ATS in its last 24 games at home.

 

All spread and odds data powered by Odds Shark. Follow us on Twitter for injury and line movement updates.

Read more Seattle Seahawks news on BleacherReport.com

Buzz: Marshawn Lynch ‘Unhappy,’ Attitude ‘Is a Problem’ in Seattle

Marshawn Lynch has been unhappy with the Seattle Seahawks since the offseason, when Lynch was holding out over his contract. The situation in Seattle has not improved for Lynch recently after the Seahawks traded teammate and close friend Percy Harvin

What does the future hold for Marshawn Lynch in Seattle? Do the Seahawks need him to keep their offense intact? 

Watch as Stephen Nelson goes in-depth with Bleacher Report NFL insider Jason Cole in the video above.

Read more Seattle Seahawks news on BleacherReport.com

Russell Wilson Salvaged a Win the Seahawks Didn’t Deserve

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson approaches his position with a style that can lead to undeserved gifts—like significant gains after protection breaks down or a completion deep downfield at the mere flick of a wrist while running frantically.

He also gift-wraps undeserved wins. That’s what he did Sunday when the Seahawks ended a two-game slide, beating the Carolina Panthers on the road 13-9.

The win came with a wretched smell, the kind that makes you roam the house wondering what died. That is exactly the sort of win a championship team pulls from the ashes.

But before we appreciate Wilson’s latest heroics and an 80-yard drive that ended in a game-winning touchdown with 47 seconds left, let’s first peer down the deep, dark hole the Seahawks dug for themselves. Again.

A sputtering first half wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard this time, as it was last week when they trailed the St. Louis Rams 21-3 at one point. No, this time their largest deficit was only six points. That was partly because of the Seahawks’ defensive stonewalling in the red zone and partly due to the Panthers and their kind charity (a red-zone fumble on a botched exchange).

The Panthers ran 13 plays at or beyond Seattle’s 25-yard line in the first half, four of which came inside the 5-yard line. Yet they still settled for two field goals and didn’t score a touchdown.

That’s when the stench of this game started on another area of the scoreboard.

The epicenter of that first-half void was the opening quarter, when the Seahawks ran six plays and they were outgained offensively 105-17. They didn’t convert a third-down attempt until the 2:25 mark of the second quarter.

Even when life was seemingly found late in the half with a long 13-play drive, it was quickly devoured by the darkness. From Carolina’s 7-yard line Wilson looked to running back Marshawn Lynch on a slant. He led him a touch too far, but the ball was still catchable on a play that’s resulted in a touchdown often. This time it glanced off Lynch’s hands for an interception to end a long half of despair.

Our hero was still coming but not yet. First he was busy contributing to that awful smell.

The mistakes piled for Seattle, highlighted by a missed safety from defensive end Michael Bennett when he had Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in his grasp. And they continued in a stretch of three plays when the snap was fumbled twice, with the second another turnover deep in opposing territory.

But the most glaring and potentially game-altering mistake came from the eventual savior himself.

Again in the red zone and again one throw away from putting up seven points, the threat of Wilson’s running led to the perfect creation by Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

Wilson executed the read-option and choose to keep it while sprinting to his left, selling a run. The cornerback on that side of the field bit hard, with his hand forced by Wilson’s speed. That left tight end Cooper Helfet without a black jersey within about 15 yards. Easy touchdown and an easy lead, right?

Then a duck migration began.

Wilson wasn’t a hero at all for much of this game. He was only sporadically effective, averaging 6.2 yards per pass attempt and leading an offense that finished with 266 yards gained, a steep decline from last week’s total of 463 yards.

There was an overall plunge offensively from a week ago, making the final score that much more impressive.

Really absorb those numbers and the mistakes that led to them. Then ask yourself: How did the Seahawks win this game? And did they deserve to win this game? The answers are Russell Wilson and probably not.

The best quarterbacks have an ability to forget. They forget an interception, a poor throw, a fumble and any other form of ghoulish nightmare that’s led to a particularly rough day in their often uncomfortable pocket office. When a win is still within reach it’s all blacked out because every mistake and stumble can be a memory with one moment of brilliance.

Russell Wilson can do all of that. The forgetting and the brilliance.

After a Graham Gano field goal that gave Carolina a three-point lead, Seattle took possession on its own 20-yard line with 4:37 left. Entering that game-deciding drive Wilson had completed 16 passes for only 139 yards. Now he had to cover 80 yards.

That is when our hero—and Wilson the wizard—finally arrived.

He connected on his first two throws and after a penalty scrambled for 14 yards to set up a 2nd-and-1 right at midfield. Over three minutes remained, and the winning touchdown was quickly within reach.

Four plays later the Seahawks were on Carolina’s 23-yard line, arriving again at the point of disaster. They had run 15 plays at or beyond the Panthers’ 25-yard line. The result: an interception, a fumble, a field goal and zero touchdowns.

But with one throw all of that was erased.

Wilson hit Luke Willson deep up the seam five yards ahead of the end zone, and the tight end did the rest while pinballing ahead. The Panthers had an opportunity to drive the field with 42 seconds left following the kickoff. But a still fierce Seahawks pass-rush dropped the hammer, sacking Newton twice.

“Lord knows we needed that one,” defensive end Bruce Irvin told ESPN.com after recording both game-sealing sacks. “We were at a point in our season where we could go left or right. We went right and it’s up from here.”

Committing those potentially crippling mistakes and falling behind isn’t a long-term recipe for success, and neither is leaning on Wilson’s morphing into wizard mode. A week ago against the Rams an attempt at heroics fell short, even though Wilson threw three second-half touchdown passes and Seattle outscored St. Louis 21-7 over the final two quarters.

A more focused and consistent game is especially needed with a divisional gauntlet now looming in the not-so-distant future. The battledome of the NFC West and the fate of the defending champions may be decided when the Seahawks play five of their final six games against division opponents. That includes two games against the San Francisco 49ers and two against the Arizona Cardinals, the current division leaders.

But 10 game-winning drives since 2012—the second most over that period, according to ESPN Stats & Information—makes Wilson one of the league’s most reliable life rafts to deploy in a time of need.

Even if the other three quarters were forgettable, and can now be forgotten.

Read more Seattle Seahawks news on BleacherReport.com

Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers: Final Report-Card Grades for Seattle

It was far from pretty, but the Seattle Seahawks came away with a 13-9 victory, that played out eerily similarly to the last time these teams met. The sole touchdown of the game came with 47 seconds left on a 23-yard strike from Russell Wilson to Luke Willson. The Panthers never gave themselves a chance for a last-minute rebuttal.

Both teams struggled in the red zone and with turnovers. It’s the third time in as many years the Seahawks have beaten the Panthers with second-half comebacks. The Carolina Panthers, perhaps, should have been ahead by a wide margin, but Seattle’s defense did well early and only got better late in the game.

Carolina was stymied on three trips into Seattle’s red zone in the first half and capped them off with: field goal, field goal, fumble. The Seahawks defense playing big in those situations is the reason for the victory and for Seattle snapping their two-game losing streak.

 

Final Game Stats

 

Seattle Seahawks Category Carolina Panthers
310 Total Yards 266
191 Passing Yards 152
5.8 Yards Per Attempt 6.1
119 Rushing Yards 114
4.6 Yards Per Attempt 3.7
7-41 Penalties 4-20
2 Turnovers 2
4-of-11 Third-Down Conversions 2-of-10
29:00 Possession 31:00

 

 

Begin Slideshow