Though they don’t face off much anymore, the Seahawks have played the Chiefs 51 times in their history, the third most of any team in the NFL since joining the league in 1976. The last meeting between the two happened in 2014, a 24-20 win by the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Jamaal Charles carried the Chiefs that day with 159 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Marshawn Lynch had 124 yards rushing for Seattle, but was stopped twice on critical plays and “left without speaking to reporters,” according to the Associated Press game story. Haha. It must have been that writer’s first time covering a Seahawks game to make such a note.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Jarran Reed vs. Patrick Mahomes
Reed has been somewhat of a revelation for the Seahawks rushing the passer this season. After recording just three sacks in his first two seasons, the 26-year-old has 8.5 already this year. He and defensive end Frank Clark have made a living helping each other on stunts, leading both to career-best seasons. Mahomes is a highlight reel waiting to happen, and if given time in the pocket he will shred the defense apart. In fact, in many cases he has shredded the defense with no time in the pocket. That being said, the Seahawks best chance against the young phenom will be to generate pressure, something the Chiefs and Mahomes have done a great job of preventing. Kansas City allows a sack on just 4.8-percent of its pass attempts this season, fifth best in the NFL.
‘Wait and see’ vs. Chris Jones
Speaking of pass-rushers, the Chiefs has a great one in Jones. The third-year lineman and gigantic Pro Bowl snub is cuurently on a streak of recording a sack in 10 straight games, tied for the all time NFL record. Jones has 14 sacks overall this season and will be lined up across from … Ethan Pocic? Who knows? With both D.J. Fluker and Jordan Simmons injured, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wouldn’t commit this week to who would start at right guard. Pocic came on in relief when Simmons was injured against the 49ers last week and promptly stunk up the joint. Maybe Carroll is playing coy and has something up his sleeve (George Fant at right tackle, Germain Ifedi at guard?), because if he doesn’t, Jones is likely to set the all-time record with a sack in 11 straight games.
Speed vs. Speed
According the the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill is the fourth-fastest ball-carrier in the league this season, reaching 21.95 miles per hour on a touchdown reception in Week 1. Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin, who ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the combine, showed his blazing speed when he chased down Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey from behind on a long run in Week 12. The two will likely see a lot of each other on Sunday night, running all over the field with lightning speed. So who is faster? Not sure, but Seattle better hope that Griffin can at least keep up with Hill, or it will be a long, and tiring, night for the secondary.
400 — Kansas City’s offense averages 427.3 yards per game, best in the NFL. Kansas City’s defense gives up 409.4 yards per game, second worst in the NFL. Can you say shootout? In the analytics world, the Chiefs’ defensive DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average; measures a team against a league baseline) of 7.5-percent is sixth worst in the league. But Seattle’s defensive DVOA has steadily slipped to 19th in the NFL. Put all of this together and the only logical conclusion would be to expect a lot of points on both sides of the ball. But it’s a game in Seattle on a Sunday night, so the final score will probably be 10-7.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Chiefs’ passing game gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so, but the running game is pretty good, too. The Chiefs may be just 16th in the league in rushing yards per game with 114.4, but are ninth overall averaging 4.7 yards per carry. The coach behind Kansas City’s rushing success is none other than former Seahawks first-round pick Andy Heck. Seattle took Heck 15th overall in the 1989 draft out of Notre Dame, where he was part of a national championship team in 1988. Heck he went on to play five seasons with the Seahawks and 12 years total in the NFL. Heck’s current group paves the way for former Seahawks castoff Spencer Ware. Drafted by the Seahawks in the sixth round of the 2013 draft, Ware never found his footing in Seattle, but is the lead man in Kansas City after Pro Bowl running back Kareem Hunt was cut from the team in November when a video surfaced of him assaulting a woman.
In a game where rushing the passer could be critical to the outcome, let’s take a moment to think about what makes Seahawks defensive end Clark so special. Clark has a unique ability to convert “speed to power” and vice versa. “Speed to power” is a scouting term to define a multidimensional pass-rusher. You’ve seen this on display from Clark many times this season. He will sell the outside pass rush to get the offensive lineman leaning, then redirect right into the lineman’s chest and bull rush him back into the quarterback. On the other hand, Clark is just as good at using his bull rush to start a play, then he will disengage, convert to speed and chase down a scrambling quarterback. These type of skills may not be rare per se, but they do tend to get a player paid handsomely. With his rookie contract set to expire, don’t expect the Seahawks to let this exceptionally talented player get away, no matter the cost.
After last week’s loss to the 49ers, the nerves of Seahawks fans may be kicking in. Dr. Google says foods like chamomile, asparagus and spinach can help calm the nervous system. Yeah, not doing that. Instead, honor the barbecuing heritage of Kansas City by chewing on a rack of ribs. There’s no space to adequately explain the best method for cooking ribs, or the best rub to put on them, but be sure and allow at least five or six hours of cooking time. You can’t rush a good rack of ribs. To quench your thirst, sip on a Dark Truth Imperial Stout from Boulevard Brewing. Brewed in Kansas City, but available locally, this rich stout is sure to please, and the Seahawks hope a dark truth isn’t exposed by the high-powered Chiefs.
Chiefs 38, Seahawks 31
Like Seattle’s two games against the high-powered Rams — and the Chiefs’ incredible 54-51 loss to Los Angeles earlier this season — this one looks like it could be a back-and-forth slugfest. Neither defense inspires a ton of confidence, and both offenses are capable of putting up points. Seattle best bet is to run the ball efficiently and control the clock with the ground game to keep the Chiefs’ quick-strike offense on the bench. The last team with the ball may decide the entire game. Kansas City’s offense is just a bit too much for Seattle to overcome.