Starting this Sunday, Seattle has 13 games left in their 2023 season, seven of which will be on the road. After this week, they have back-to-back home games, then don’t play at home again until November 12th. They have a brutal back-to-back road game slate in weeks 13 and 14 at Dallas and at San Francisco, and their final home game comes in week 17, just a week before their regular season finale in Arizona in week 18.
Whether you see their opponents the rest of the way as favorable or not, that’s a tough second half to the season, so they need to come out of their bye week swinging.
For most teams, a bye week allows them to get healthy and rest up while getting extra time to prepare for their upcoming opponent. It can also mean some additional rust to knock off since you don’t have momentum from the prior week, regardless of how the previous game ended.
Seattle won their first game after the bye week from 2016-2019 and has had to climb out of a 0-1 hole in the second half of their season since. This will be the longest second half of their season in a long time, and Seattle has put together a three-game winning streak after losing their season opener. At 3-1, they are just a game behind the San Francisco 49ers, who have cruised to a 5-0 record and will be in Ohio this weekend to play the Browns.
The Seahawks will also be in Ohio on Sunday morning to face the Cincinnati Bengals, fresh off a big win in Arizona. Bengals QB Joe Burrow finally looked like himself last Sunday, shredding the Cardinals’ defense despite being down WR Tee Higgins, who will likely play this week. Burrow and star receiver Ja’Marr Chase teamed up for a ridiculous amount of yards and scores last week, and the scary truth is they could have had more. Seattle’s secondary will be a better test for them, but with Higgins returning, this could be the return of the aerial attack that has doomed defenses since Chase’s rookie season.
Seattle expects to get one of their best players back on both sides of the ball, as left tackle Charles Cross and safety Jamal Adams should be on the field this week. It will be a welcome sight after weeks of breakdowns in pass coverage and many issues with blocking up front. Cross returning will give QB Geno Smith more time to throw and should help open up more running lanes for RB Kenneth Walker III. Adams coming back will force the Bengals to adjust to his speed and hitting and his capability to fly into the backfield as a blitzer when they go to a three-safety scheme.
Seattle and Cincinnati have potent offenses with bend-but-don’t-break defenses that feature enough big names to ensure they don’t give up too many big plays and hold offenses to a field goal or a punt once in a while. Chase had his first big game of the season last week and will be looking to build on it. While it’s unrealistic to expect Seattle’s young corners to hold him off for an entire half, let alone an entire game, don’t be surprised if you see him getting better than expected coverage and get frustrated occasionally. Devon Witherspoon and Tariq Woolen will have their hands full with Chase and Higgins, but so will Bengals corners Chidobe Awuzie and Cam Taylor Britt, as they must line up with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
There’s plenty of star power on both squads, and while neither team boasts a dominant defense, they both have a lot of capable players that can get the job done. Expect to see a lot of points this weekend, a lot of big plays, and probably some critical turnovers since both teams like to play aggressively whether they have the ball or not.
The X factors for both teams will be on offense. For Seattle, can they get better blocking from Cross and give Geno time to throw? And for Cincinnati, can RB Joe Mixon provide enough of a threat in the running game to keep a ravenous defense honest? The Seahawks sacked Giants QB Daniel Jones nine times just over a week ago, so enemy territory isn’t a problem for them. Burrow might be close to healthy for the first time this season, but his offensive line is still in doubt, so don’t be surprised if he doesn’t have time to set his feet and push the ball deep to Chase or Higgins very often.
The Bengals pass rush is not something Seattle can ignore. Although they have been better since their week one disaster when Geno had guys in his face as soon as he snapped the ball, they also have had a couple of weeks off from good defenses, having beaten up lesser opponents like the Panthers and Giants. Cincinnati was one score away from the Super Bowl last year and was in the Super Bowl the year before, this is a really good team, and they will be a really good test for Seattle.
Even though he’s only in his 4th season, Burrow plays like a savvy veteran who knows all the tricks a defense will throw at him and has a rapid release. He’s also not afraid to hold the ball until the defense gives Chase or Higgins just enough time to get open, even though it likely means he’ll take a huge hit and risk getting a serious injury. Burrow may not be the most durable guy on the field, but it’s hard to find someone more challenging.
Expect to see fireworks this Sunday. This will be a fun game, but don’t be surprised if Seattle gets down early and has to fight their way back. Most of the Bengals have been playing on the same team and going deep in the playoffs for three years now, while Seattle is still trying to figure out how to compete with elite teams and win a playoff game.
It will be a brisk and windy afternoon in Cincinnati this Sunday with temperatures in the high 50s, but they aren’t calling for rain, so this could be one of the final dry and relatively warm games Seattle plays outdoors this season. It’s officially fall now, and even when it’s not raining on Sundays, it will probably not be very warm. Seattle should enjoy this chance to prove they are a legitimate contender this year and improve to 4-1 while shoving Cincinnati down to 2-4.
With twelve games left after this one, there is still plenty of season left, so there’s no reason to fret if they lose a close game, but they should take this as a serious test to start their second half of the season with a bang and give their best effort against a Super Bowl team. Seattle may not win this game, but they will give them a hell of a fight either way.
Prediction – Cincinnati wins 38-34, and the game is close throughout, with both teams putting together exciting touchdown drive after touchdown drive. Seattle settles for a field goal late in the 4th quarter, and while clinging to a 34-31 lead, Burrow manages to score the game-sealing touchdown – but it won’t come from Chase or Higgins.