The Kansas City Chiefs have their toughest challenge to date on Sunday when Seattle comes into Kansas City with an identical 6-3 record. As the defending champs, the Seahawks have taken every opponent's best shot but they can struggle on the road. The Seahawks four road games this season:
Week 3: Chargers loss 30-21
Week 5: Redskins win 27-17
Week 7: Rams loss 28-26
Week 8: Panthers win 13-9
The Chiefs have a chance to make a statement to the rest of the NFL on Sunday. Here's what they should expect.
When The Seahawks Are On Offense
1. The Seahawks staple on offense is their read option. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch make a lethal combination in the backfield. Tom Cable has installed a solid zone blocking concept that allows Lynch to stretch the run out, cut back or Wilson can keep it if backside contain fails. Seattle also has a bootleg, HB screen, WR Screen and play-action out of this zone read option formation. This concept is the key to their offense.
The Rams did a great job of shooting the gaps of the zone or fighting to their outside shoulder while maintaining discipline on the backside. Eliminating this option takes a ton of flexibility out of their playbook.
2. Speaking of Lynch, he is a tough and physical runner. He is the most dynamic playmaker on the field. He can run a defender over or juke around them. Lynch is tough to bring down and has really good vision in the open field. He is a threat out of the backfield on passes and can take it the distance. He must be accounted for at ALL times.
3. Russell Wilson is what many hoped Michael Vick would become. Wilson has impressive speed in the open field. He is elusive in the pocket and can create plays with his feet. The former third round pick must be contained in the pocket. The Chiefs can save themselves a great deal of headaches if he is contained. Wilson is one of the few quarterbacks in the NFL who can roll out of the pocket, reset his feet quickly and effortlessly throw 40 yards down the field. His accuracy is extremely impressive given the adjustments on his launch points.
4. The Seahawks receivers are good after the catch. Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Paul Richardson have the speed to take it the distance. The Chiefs corners will need to stay on their hip when the pocket breaks down for Wilson. His receivers have a knack for getting open when he needs help.
When The Seahawks Are On Defense
5. The Seahawks defense has great sideline-to-sideline speed. When teams run the stretch against them, the corner rarely opens up. The front four has an ability to attack the gaps and get up field in a hurry. Michael Bennett is a dominate force with his ability to get up field. The Chiefs are going to need to space the Seahawks defense out with the shotgun and use their speed against them. The cutback lanes are also there when the Seahawks over pursue on stretch plays.
6. Manageable third and four or shorter is crucial. The Seahawks want to bring blitzes on third and five or longer. They want to get the ball out quickly. Seattle typically brings overloads, their front seven or twist against opposing teams. Screens and hot routes are ideal in these circumstances but the Seahawks have really good speed to get to Smith before he gets the ball out.
7. Richard Sherman does his film study. He has impressive play diagnosis and attacks very quickly because of it. The back shoulder throws will likely not be there in man coverage. Sherman has a knack for being able to anticipate them and intercept them.
8. Brandon Mebane was a big loss for the Seahawks. He has typically lined up in a one tech position angled towards occupying the center and guard on the blocks. He was the quickest lineman when it came to penetrating the gap. Mebane disrupted so much of teams run games just by making two blockers account for him. His loss will likely be felt on the cutback runs.
9. The biggest challenges for the Seahawks are getting spaced out in the red zone and defending the athletic tight ends. Teams have been effective when they go shotgun with four wide. The running lanes are a little bit easier and the play-action is able to be effective. The Rams were effective with the shovel pass inside the three. The linebackers and Kam Chancellor have troubling matching up against athletic tight ends. They are typically mismatched in the speed department. This will be an interesting game because Seattle will attempt to establish the read option and power run game to setup their play action. This has the making of a close and physical football game. Seattle has dealt with a great deal of those since Week 1. The Seahawks will have patience with the run game. They probably believe the Chiefs don’t have the offense to outscore them.
10. The Chiefs mission should be to put this look on Pete Carroll when he leaves Arrowhead.