The Seahawks’ game in Washington on Sunday will be a great test of whether Brian Schottenheimer and Russell Wilson have gotten over their collective midseason slump and are ready to beat the Rams in Week 16.
Washington has one of the NFL’s best defenses – fourth in yards, sixth in scoring, fourth in DVOA. It all starts with their stellar defensive line, made up of a bunch of first-round picks: Chase Young (2020), Montez Sweat (2019), Da’Ron Payne (2018), Jonathan Allen (2017) and Ryan Kerrigan (2011). Add Tim Settle’s 5.5 sacks from inside, and that sextet has combined for 27.5 sacks (Seattle’s top six D-linemen have just 18.5).
Washington’s D-line has spearheaded a four-game winning streak that included handing Pittsburgh its first loss of the season. It’s going to be a big challenge for Wilson and company.
Until an easy game against the Jets, Wilson had struggled for a month. After averaging 34 points over the first eight games, Seattle scored just 19.8 over the next four weeks – and then put 40 on the Jets. Wilson threw 28 touchdown passes in the 6-2 start but had just four as the offense hit a skid against the Rams, Eagles and Giants (with a good win against Arizona mixed in).
Wilson is 9-0 when he has a QB rating of 100 or better, 0-4 when under 100. No surprise: His play will determine the result.
The odds are stacked in the latter column. Washington’s defense is as good as the Rams, who sacked Wilson six times in their 23-16 win and held him to no TD passes for the first time since the last loss to the Rams, 28-12 last December.
If Brandon Shell (ankle) cannot play, the right side of Seattle’s line figures to be a real problem. Schotty needs to come in with a quick-hitting passing plan and mix plenty of Chris Carson and misdirection plays with all of the skill players. We don’t need to see more of Wilson scrambling around, getting sacked while looking for deep shots that are not there.
If Schotty calls the right kind of game and Wilson executes it, it will bode well for the big division games against the Rams and 49ers to finish the season.
This is the game that will tell us whether those guys are really over their slump and capable of beating good defenses (e.g., the Saints, Rams and Bucs) in the playoffs.