One safety is back. One defensive end is debuting. One quarterback is playing the best football of his life. One receiver is captivating the country. One linebacker just got defensive player of the week. And one team has a chance to show it has the most complete roster in football.
You want to know if the Seahawks are Super Bowl contenders? Sunday might offer the best glimpse so far this season. Not only will Seattle (6-1) meet its most accomplished opponent yet in the Bills (6-2), it will do so with a defense that, for the first time in a while, may spark some pregame jitters within its foe.
For most of the season, the Seahawks’ D has offered all the resistance of a finish-line ribbon. It has given up the most yards per game in the NFL, is ranked 24th in points allowed per game, and made struggling quarterback Cam Newton look like a superstar in Week 2. But Seattle has also been without All-Pro safety Jamal Adams — ranked the 27th best player in the league by the NFL Network — for most of the year. He’ll be back Sunday.
And the Seahawks have been without any significant pass rush for most of the season, but will debut DE Carlos Dunlap — who averaged over nine sacks per game from 2015 to 2019 — after acquiring him from the Bengals.
Yes, Pro Bowl cornerback Shaquill Griffin will be out with a hamstring injury, but with the reinforcements complementing Bobby Wagner — who won NFC Defensive Player of the Week after his 11-tackle, two-sack game against the 49ers — this could be the game the D finally matches the prowess of Seattle’s offense.
OK, maybe that’s a stretch. Mainly because nobody has matched Seattle’s offense this year. Quarterback Russell Wilson’s passer rating of 120.7 is the best in the league. DK Metcalf — who is fourth in the league in receiving yards per game (97.1) and tied for second in touchdowns (7) — is getting online shoutouts from LeBron James. The Seahawks are first in the NFL in points per game (34.3) and third in the league in yards per game (414.4). They don’t move the chains so much as they rocket them.
The only knock? The combined records for all the teams Seattle has beaten is 16-30, and only the Dolphins (4-3) have a winning record. This is part of what makes the Bills game so intriguing. It’s on the road against a proven squad with most of Seattle’s stars on the field.
In previous years, the absence of running backs Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde, each of whom will be out Sunday, would be disconcerting. But given that the Seahawks have established themselves as a pass-first team — not to mention the fact that backup RB DeeJay Dallas had two touchdowns last game — that may not be of much consequence.
The two most intriguing players will be Adams and Dunlap, though. Both will help shore up the previously nonexistent pass rush (Adams had two sacks before he got hurt in Week 3) and Adams’ presence on the back end should limit explosive plays that have plagued Seattle most of the year.
As Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Adams via Zoom call, “He’s just a fireball. He’s got so much juice to him. He plays at such a high level, and it translates to other guys in giving them confidence, and he’ll pick guys up after good plays, after bad plays. He’s just got such a positive effect that he’s a big factor. He’s a big factor.”
As for Dunlap?
“He was ready to go right at the beginning of the first day in the walk-through and he had already studied up over the weekend, and stuff came real easy,” Carroll added. “It was just seamless.”
Despite their record, this season has been anything but seamless for the Seahawks. The majority of their games have come down to the final minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, and their record could certainly be significantly worse.
But Adams’ return and Dunlap’s debut add a new dynamic to this team. Sunday, we’re gonna see who the Seahawks really are, or maybe, what they are not.