Matchup: Seattle Seahawks vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Site: Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Missouri)
The Seahawks travel to Kansas City this Friday night to take on the Chiefs in week 3 of the 2012 preseason. The Seahawks enter this game at 2-0 on the preseason and are coming off an impressive 30-10 win over Denver last week. The Chiefs are 1-1 in the preseason and are coming off a 31-17 loss to the St. Louis Rams last weekend. Here are some things I will be keeping an eye on this week.
Russell Wilson starts at quarterback for the Seahawks this week and as a fan, I am a mix of nervous and excited. I know Wilson is competing for the starting quarterback job with Matt Flynn but in my opinion he has very little to lose. Not many people including myself gave Wilson a good chance of winning the job. A strong performance by Wilson this week could potentially earn him the job but if he struggles he will most likely earn the backup quarterback job, the position that I thought he would win from the start. I am most interested to see Wilson’s on-field chemistry with the starting wide receivers and how he handles increased speed and pressure coming from Kansas City’s starting defense. One of the highlights of Wilson’s play thus far is his pocket presence and ability to keep plays alive. What I hope does not happen is Wilson trying to do too much, meaning he will force passes into tight holes or tuck the ball and run prematurely if the pocket collapses. Kansas City does not have the best defense in the league. They do not have the worst either. This is a very solid test for Wilson and if he performs well, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start next week against Oakland and to see the quarterback competition stretched into next week.
Bobby Wagner has locked down the starting middle linebacker job. With all the uncertainty around that position battle behind him, Wagner can now concentrate on calling the first-team defense and building a rap with the rest of the starting defense. On defense this week, I am most interested to see if the Seahawks can finally establish a steady pass rush. My goal for this game is at least two sacks in the first half. I do not care if it is Bruce Irvin or Chris Clemons or even Red Bryant getting to the quarterback. I just want this unit to show us fans that we can be dominant in both aspects of the defensive game plan. So far, that has not happened even though the run defense and the secondary have done an exceptional job in proving dominance. One last defensive element I would like to see this week is the handling of the no-huddle offense. Last week Peyton Manning was very successful in picking our defense apart when running out of the no-huddle. If Matt Cassel and the Chiefs run no-huddle Friday night, I want to know we can stop them. We need to make sure the right personnel are on the field and make sure we can get stops, especially if the Chiefs are passing.
Special teams is gradually becoming an area of concern for me. We gave up a punt return touchdown in week one and had two Jon Ryan punts blocked in Denver last week. My worries would be eased significantly if we make sure there are no big returns by Kansas City return men and if we make sure any holes along the line are filled on punt coverage. I am not sure if Dexter McCluster will be returning kicks this week but if he is we have to be solid because McCluster can be a very explosive threat if he has daylight in front of him.
The Chiefs will be playing on offense this week with full health. After winning the AFC West in 2010, Kansas City fell into last place last year, primarily because of their losses on the offensive side of the ball. Last year they lost quarterback Matt Cassel, star running back Jamaal Charles, and up-and-coming tight end Tony Moeaki; all of whom are healthy to start the 2012 campaign. The Chiefs have a new head coach in Romeo Crennel and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe has just ended his offseason holdout. When you also include free agent acquisition Peyton Hillis, the Chiefs have the weapons to be an explosive offense this season. I will be looking to see how all of these players click under a new head coach in the first half.
On defense, the Chiefs are led by stud linebacker Derrick Johnson and safety Eric Berry who has returned from a knee injury that sidelined him for the majority of the 2011 season. Russell Wilson needs to make sure he is spot on with his throws because if not, Johnson, Berry, and the rest of the Kansas City defense will make him pay for his mistakes.
Random Thoughts: Like I blogged about on Wednesday, the Seahawks have a difficult time playing at Arrowhead Stadium. They have never played there under Coach Carroll therefore I am curious to know whether the team will do anything differently in preparation and during the game to handle the raucous red sea… The Seahawks announced that they will wear white jerseys and gray pants this week. In my opinion that may be the strangest of all our possible uniform combinations… One person who may be split on who to root for this week is actor Rob Riggle. Riggle is a diehard Chiefs fan and graduate of the University of Kansas. However, Riggle made an appearance at Seahawks training camp last season because of his friendship with Coach Carroll. My guess is Riggle will be pulling for the Chiefs. POW!… I will be watching from home on Friday. My dad offered to buy a growler of Mac & Jacks and of course I will never turn down beer as fine as that while watching a Seahawks game!
Prediction: Russell Wilson will do a decent job but not good enough to extend the quarterback competition for much longer. Matt Flynn will come in to play most of the second half and will completely dominate the Kansas City backups and the Seahawks will escape Arrowhead with a rare victory.
Seahawks 31, Chiefs 17
As always my review post will most likely come Saturday afternoon. Thanks for reading everybody. I greatly appreciate your comments and support. Go Seahawks!