It does not get any bigger than this! Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs are coming into Century Link Field to take on Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night football with major playoff implications on the line. The Chiefs are in a neck and neck battle with the Chargers after LA stunned them in last weeks upset loss as time expired and now Kansas City faces either a first round bye and home field in the playoffs, or a wild card spot depending on how these last two games play out. Seattle is fresh off of a stunning loss of their own after falling to the San Francisco 49ers last week, a game where the Seahawks recorded fourteen penalties for one hundred and fourty-eight yards. Despite their struggles last week, Seattle still holds the fifth seed in the NFC playoff picture and, with a win this week, can seal their spot in the post season. With the stakes raised to the highest level of the season for both teams, we should be in for an absolute dandy of a game, but how do these teams stack up on the field?
Every single time Seattle has played a nationally televised game, there has been mention of, if not an info-graphic depicting, Seattle’s massive roster turnover in the off-season, and expect that trend t continue on Sunday night, but these Seahawks have been a pleasant surprise despite all the change for most of the season. A renewed dedication to the running game under new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has gotten the Seahawks back to winning games like they were in their Super Bowl years. Seattle’s offense is the top of the league when it comes to rushing, ranked first in total rushing yards, second in attempts, and top ten in yards per carry. All this success in the running game has not overshadowed Russell Wilson however, putting together one of the best performances of his career, Wilson is ranked in the top five in touchdown passes, fewest interceptions thrown, and quarterback rating. One thing has stayed constant from the old regime however, in that Wilson has taken the sixth most sacks in the league and despite this, he has this team in playoff contention once again. You might be asking why I chose to detail both Seattle’s pass attack and running game instead of focusing on the one that best exploits the Chiefs defense, well if the Chiefs played defense you would have a point, but that is simply not the case. Kansas City ranks between twenty-sixth and dead last in the league in rushing yards, passing yards and points allowed, Seattle can come into Sunday night with a simple game plan of ‘play offense’ and they would put up points, but this Chiefs defense plays off of the offense well. What makes the Chiefs effective on the defensive side of the ball is their ability to generate turnovers when their offense forces teams to play from behind and break their game plan. Kansas City has forced twenty-three turnovers this season, which is top eight in the league, and an average of nearly two per game, however, given the fact their defense struggles in addition to producing a fair amount of turnovers, they are especially vulnerable to teams that don’t turn the ball over and Seattle takes care of the ball better than any one else. With the possible absence of their starting right guard and tackle, Seattle may have a hard time running the ball, but they should be able to use their power running game with extra lineman and tight ends to keep the KC defense on their heals regardless of who ends up suiting up.
While you may disagree with his views of what ketchup does and doesn’t belong on, Patrick Mahomes is a brilliantly talented thrower of the football. He can practically hit any spot on the field from any arm angle, which makes him a threat at all times he has the ball in his hands. I really don’t have to get into much detail on the Chiefs passing game, Mahomes has the most passing yards and touchdowns in the league and it is not very close, but their rushing attack is worth looking into. The obvious highlight on the KC’s running game is the dismissal of Kareem Hunt in week thirteen, the Chiefs lost one of the most dynamic players in the league and that is obviously going to effect the team, but they were not an effective running team to begin with, ranking in the bottom half of the league in rushing yards coming into Sunday. There is something to be said for their ability to put up points, but with a sub par rushing attack, you lose the art of controlling a game and capitalizing in key situations. Seattle’s defense ranks nineteenth in total yards allowed, but they stiffen up dramatically in the red zone, as they are ranked seventh in points allowed. Not having a powerful running game for short yardage opportunities, especially in the red zone where the field is so much more compact and every inch matters will be a major disadvantage for the Chiefs in Seattle.
The Chiefs offense gives them a chance to win every single game they play in, but their big play mentality and abysmal defense also keeps most opponents they face in the game until the very end as well. Eight of their games this year have been decided by just one score, even though their offense puts up thirty-five points per contest, showing that they truly believe that the best defense is the best offense. Seattle, on the other hand, plays every game like it is going to come down to the fourth quarter, running the ball and controlling clock as much as possible while keeping a lid on the defense at all times. Both teams have injuries at key positions with Seattle down a starting safety and Reshaad Penny in addition to their line troubles and KC missing Spencer Ware and potentially Kendall Fuller, further depleting their thinnest position groups. This game will have similar vibes to the Philadelphia game in 2017 where the Seahawks contained the high flying offense at home until the forth quarter when Mahomes will keep things interesting, but ultimately Seattle will control the ball and pull out the victory.
Final Score: Seattle Seahawks 31, Kansas City 27.