Coming out of their bye week and standing at 3-1 the Seahawks head to Cincinnati to face a Bengals team that at 2-3 look to be getting their season back on track after some early season travails on offence not least due to QB Joe Burrow having an injured calf.
Last week Burrow certainly looked like his old self albeit it was against a wretched Cardinals defence, but Burrow still carved out an impressive stat line going 36-for-46 for 317 yards and three touchdowns. There was also some redemption for the Bengals main wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase who was without a touchdown prior to last week and was complaining about lack of targets. All of that changed as Burrow found Chase for a franchise record 15 catches that went for 192 yards and three touchdowns. The Bengals dropped 34 points on Arizona after averaging 12.3 points per game over their first four contests, which was the second fewest in the league. Now they’ll look to keep things rolling against the Seahawks, who are coming off their bye.
Seattle have had plenty of time to plan for this game having not played since shutting down the moribund New York Giants offence, sacking Giants QB Daniel Jones 11 times and holding them to just three points. This is a far greater test for the Seahawks defence though and we can’t lose sight of the fact that in their first three games against the Rams. Lions and Panthers they struggled. Those offences averaged 29.3 points per game against them, and they now face what appears to be a rejuvenated Bengals offence and a healthy Joe Burrow having to travel cross country to play in the early time slot.
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The game itself looks to be one of those that has a range of outcomes especially as we don’t quite know what to expect from the Bengals offence where the play calling of head coach Zac Taylor has been rather erratic to say the least. Can the Seahawks actually control a game as they haven’t really managed to do so outside of that Giants victory.
Seattle tend to play the game at a quick pace and as a result the number of plays in their games have been on the large side, ranking fourth in average combined plays and seventh in total points. The Bengals not only had Joe Burrow moving more nimbly inside and outside of the pocket in Week 5, but the entire offence played faster and passed more. Snapping the ball with more than 10 seconds remaining on the play clock for the first time all season and mixed some no-huddle offence into their early drives. Those factors could lead this to be a high-scoring game and surely the total points line pitched at 44.5 (10-11) is one to target on the side of the overs.
Control is always something that the Seahawks will want to exert on the game, and they generally attempt to do that by running the ball early, establishing that side of the game before they attempt to throw downfield. The offensive line looks sure to be a more healthy one with LT Charles Cross, LG Phil Haynes, and RG Damien Lewis all likely to return after Seattle finished their Week 4 win with C Evan Brown as their lone healthy offensive line starter. If Seahawks QB Geno Smith gets his offensive line back then he has the ability to maintain his reputation as a reliable passer. He is completing 68.3% of his passes this year, which is in line with the 69.8% he had last season to lead all quarterbacks. If the game does turn into a shootout and it could well do then Smith is equipped to cope with going head-to-head with Burrow. In a 37-31 win in Detroit, Smith was 32-of-41 for 328 yards. He was also 23-of-36 for 296 yards in a 37-27 win over the Panthers. Last season, Smith completed over 20.5 passes in 13-of-18 games (playoffs included).
The ground game is important to Seattle though and they are averaging 1.2 more yards per rushing play than their opponent, tied for third in the league. The majority of the run game output goes through RB Kenneth Walker and Walker has over 70% of the backfield touches in three of the opening four games. In the one game in which he did not, he still had 21 touches and 156 yards and in goal-to-go situations its generally Walker who gets the rock with 13 of the 15 backfield touches in those situations, cashing in five times for a touchdown. Cincinnati are allowing over 5.0 yards per rushing attempt and 127.4 total yards per game to running backs so they may well be seeing plenty of Walker. Walker should go close to his rushing yards line which is set at 69.5 (10-11 with starsports.bet) but the 20-21 on offer for him to score a TD at anytime looks the more attractive proposition.
Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf are without doubt the two main targets for Smith and have been targeted at almost the same rate this year, although DK has converted his opportunities into 111 more yards than Lockett so far. Both have a fair matchup here although Metcalf is the more likely to be used on a deep shot as his average depth of target (aDOT) is 13.1 yards compared to 9.6 for Lockett. A matchup with a Bengals defence generating pressure at a below-average 21.7 percent clip could allow Smith to attack more aggressively downfield. Converting on third down has been a problem for Seattle this year with just 28.9% (13-45) being successful – 31st in the league and ahead of only the Jets (26.2%), that statistic needs to improve as they don’t want to give a potentially explosive Bengals defence a short field to operate on.
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Turning our attentions to the Bengals as noted earlier it’s sometimes hard to know what to expect from this team. A one level they are running the offence at a moderate pace but with extreme pass-heavy tendencies, with a robust 39.6 pass attempts per game from Joe Burrow, which ranks 4th in the NFL. Last week Burrow looked a different player and one that was far removed from the one that we saw in Weeks 1-4 picking apart the Arizona defence and secondary with poise, accuracy, and precision for the first time this year. The Seahawks defence will pose a much tougher task especially for the aerial game with their imposing cornerback duo of Tariq Woolen and Devon Witherspoon, but they will have their hands full with Ja’Marr Chase looking back on track and Tee Higgins likely to return from his rib injury. After a quiet start to the season, Chase has come back with games of 12-141-0, 7-73-0 and then 15-192-3, last week. Despite their talent at cornerback the Seahawks have been exposed by plenty of opposing wide receivers this year with four players in that position recording 100-yard game against them. Chase has a receiving yards line pitched at 89.5 (10-11) with starsports.bet and on current form he would have every chance of exceeding that mark.
Joe Mixon maintains a stranglehold on the Bengals backfield last week he received a season-high 29 touches but managed just 94 total yards. He had seven goal-to-go touches without a touchdown and was tackled three different times at the one-yard line on the same possession all of which is rather typical of his plodding efforts this year and it’s through the air that the Bengals are and will be at their most potent. Seattle have allowed a league-best 2.60 yards per carry to running backs, but they have allowed five rushing touchdowns to the position so any value in supporting Mixon looks rather limited.
The Bengals have won six straight regular-season games against NFC opponents, the second-longest active win streak vs. the opposing conference (The Eagles have won eight straight vs. the AFC) and if they fire like they did last week that streak could extend here to get them to .500 on the season. On a week where none of the Sunday games have a total over the 50 mark which is unusual it may be worth playing this game in the starsports.bet market for the game that has the most points at 8-1, the potential is there for this to turn into a high scoring one.
BACK Total match points over +44.5 2pts at 10/11 (⭐
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PROFIT/LOSS (OCT 2023): LOSS -2.84 points