A struggling Seahawks defense faces what will likely be a run-heavy playbook this Sunday from a battered New Orleans Saints offense at Caesars Superdome.
This game is vital for both teams that have shown highs and lows early this season. The Saints were heralded early as a dark horse Super Bowl team, but have sputtered recently in the absence of Jameis Winston and other offensive weapons Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. The Seahawks showed the offense could win a shootout last week in Detroit and leads the league in explosive plays. The defense has been the concern and it cost the Hawks a game against the Falcons; they could have been sitting at 3-1 coming into Sunday. We have a few key matchups that will be crucial in this game:
Seahawks vs. Saints Key Matchups
1. Right Tackle Abe Lucas versus Defensive End Cameron Jordan
Abraham Lucas is still young and growing in his role at right tackle. So far this season, he has been graded at a 63.6 by PFF and has committed three penalties through four games – tied for fifth among offensive linemen in the NFL. This will be a tough matchup for him against a veteran and seven-time Pro Bowl player Cameron Jordan. The Saints will be sure to exploit Lucas’ inexperience but may also switch to rush against Charles Cross, the other rookie tackle. We will be watching to see if Lucas can hold up or if Jordan will get to Geno Smith and disrupt the Seahawks offense.
2. Alvin Kamara versus Seahawks run defense
Alvin Kamara is likely to play Sunday and will provide relief for an injured offense led by Andy Dalton in the absence of Jameis Winston. Kamara and veteran Mark Ingram III will challenge the struggling Seahawks defense. Surprisingly, the past two meetings between the Saints and Seahawks, Kamara rushed for 51 and 69 yards, respectively. The Seahawks defense needs to hone in on these two and force Andy Dalton to throw his way to a victory.
3. DK Metcalf versus Marshon Lattimore
Metcalf, coming off his first 100-yard game of the season, will have a showdown with Marshon Lattimore. We think of Lattimore as a great cornerback, but his stats actually say otherwise. He is currently graded at 51.3 by PFF, is tied for 39th in solo tackles, and tied for 60th in receptions allowed, allowing ten receptions on eighteen targets. It would be foolish to expect back-to-back 100-yard games for DK; however, I think he could actually exploit Marshon Lattimore in this matchup. With Lattimore and DK’s personalities and high-flaring temperaments, a wild matchup and high tempers are all but certain on Sunday.
What to Watch
Can the Saints move the ball without Jameis Winston on this Seahawks defense after a let-down missed field goal in London? Historically, the Seahawks have limited Alvin Kamara’s rushing attack but he has proven deadly in the pass game.
A struggling Hawks run defense faces two strong running backs. They need to force turnovers and improve on their turnover ratio so far this season. We mentioned near the beginning of the season that the Hawks defense has been forcing fewer turnovers throughout the years but this will be a key to keeping the running backs off the field and controlling time of possession.
The young offensive line with two rookie tackles will have a tough day against Cameron Jordan. How will the pass protection hold up? Geno Smith will need time in the pocket to get the ball to the playmakers like Metcalf, Lockett and Noah Fant.
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