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Far from timid • Caveat Lector

NFL Week 9 Preview: Seahawks vs. Bills

NFL Week 9 Preview: Seahawks vs. Bills

My optimism is clearly not paying off, so at this point, I’m done saying that “THIS” will be the week that the Seahawks do the things that they can and should do on offense. I won’t be saying that Seattle’s offense should finally get right when the Bills travel to Seattle to face the home team. In fact, they shouldn’t. Not this week, anyway. This game will be ugly. Michael Bennett is a few weeks removed from returning, Thomas Rawls likely won’t be playing, and Kam Chancellor’s been a week away from being a week away forever. This game will likely be about as enjoyable as Monday Night Football has been this season. Russell Wilson gets healthier every week, but there’s no telling exactly how mobile he will be until the ball is finally snapped on game day. I’m still pretty pissed about the Saints loss, not gonna lie. With that said, I’ll get to the three things I’ll be watching out for when these two teams face off:

PENALTIES: Penalties are pretty much everything here. Penalties on Seattle’s offense kill drives, as I have said before. On the flip side of this coin, the Bills are one of the most-penalized teams this season, with 61 penalties accepted thus far. While the officiating has been dreadful this season, I would be shocked to see a team coached by Rex Ryan magically clean up their act and play a game free of flags in hostile territory. But, if the Bills can’t play with discipline, it’ll be a very long night for them.

Seattle doesn’t have such an onerous task, though. We can live with the occasional flag on defense or special teams, as long as they are few and far between. On offense, though? Not so much. The offensive line needs to stay disciplined. Nobody keeps the Seahawks out of the end zone quite like the Seahawks. If the penalties on offense are minimal, we can score and control the game. If not? Monday Night Struggleball for everyone.

THE RUN GAME: The Bills have the second-best rushing attack in the NFL, behind the Dallas Cowboys. The Seahawks opened this season with a top run defense, but have given up 255 yards on the ground in the last two games. Another week for the defense to rest and recuperate from the nightmare in Arizona should help things here. The Bills lacking a potent aerial attack, save for TE Charles Clay (I’d start him in fantasy), should help too. Here’s what doesn’t help: LeSean McCoy is averaging 5.3 yards per carry, and is expected to suit up after missing a game with an injured hamstring. Here’s what also doesn’t help: McCoy’s backup, Mike Gillisee, is averaging 6.5 yards per carry. The Seahawks run defense will have its hands very much full, especially considering the fact that Tyrod Taylor is a dual-threat quarterback who demands respect on the ground. I wonder what that’s like.

Where the Bills are a threat offensively, they aren’t so scary defensively. This is a middle of the pack run defense, and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell would be wise to call a more balanced game offensively to try and exploit that. C.J. Prosise turned eight touches into 103 yards last Sunday, and while I wouldn’t expect that much efficiency against a coherent defense in the Bills, it is clear that he has the talent to produce, and the coaching staff expects him to do just that. If Russell Wilson magically regains his mobility? This run game could take off, even with Rawls still on the sideline.

RUSHING THE PASSER: The Bills are tied with the Denver Broncos for the most sacks in the NFL (26). Outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander leads the league in sacks with 9.0. This is not great news. All it takes is a somewhat coherent defensive line to grind the Seahawks’ offense to a halt, and Buffalo brings one of the best onto the field. Seattle’s offensive line has been sneakily effective when it comes to not giving up sacks, though I would likely attribute that to Russell Wilson not holding the ball. I say that because they give up a ton of pressure regularly. There is a chance that Bradley Sowell will be back at left tackle, but I can’t take much joy in that because he’s simply not that good. The only way to mitigate what could be a disaster is a balanced game, and that means running the ball effectively from jump.

While Alexander leads the league in sacks, Cliff Avril is not that far behind him, with 7.5 sacks on the season. After him, Frank Clark has 5.5. No one guy can replace Michael Bennett. It takes a village, and it will start with those two bringing the pain every time the defense takes the field.

P.S., The Bills have managed to bring former Seahawk Percy Harvin out of retirement. He might play. Regardless, I don’t think the Bills receivers can make an aerial matchup interesting; Seattle’s corners are better than Buffalo’s wide receivers. By a lot.

Prediction: I honestly don’t have one.

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