Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#275 Seattle Seahawks 46.5 vs.
#276 Pittsburgh Steelers -4
Sunday, September 15, 2019 at 1:00pm EDT
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
Written by Chris Kubala

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#275 Seattle
#276 Pittsburgh
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20
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32

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It’s an interconference contest when the NFC West makes the trip eastward to battle the AFC North in the Steel City. The Seattle Seahawks are on the road as they make the cross-country trek to face the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday afternoon. Seattle comes in off a 21-20 home victory over Cincinnati in their season opener last Sunday. Pittsburgh went on the road and was promptly waxed 33-3 by New England on the road in their opener last Sunday night. The Seahawks own a 9-8 edge in the all-time regular-season series between the teams: in the most recent matchup, Seattle took a 39-30 victory at home on November 29, 2015.

 

A Quick Review of the Season to Date

Seattle Seahawks Review

Seattle had their ups and downs in their season opener as they shuffled in new faces on both sides of the ball. Inevitably, the Seahawks did just enough to escape with a one-point victory over the new-look Bengals. The game was close all the way with no team holding an edge more than four points in the contest. Seattle took the lead for good on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Tyler Lockett and hung on for the win. The Seahawks kept Cincinnati in check on their final two drives after the Bengals made it a one-point game with seven minutes to play.

It was a mixed bag for the Seahawks in their season opener despite the victory. Seattle was drubbed in the total offense department as they were outgained 429-233 in the contest. The Seahawks gave up 22 first downs while recording 12 and was dominated 35:50 to 24:10 in time of possession in the contest. Despite giving up a ton of yards, Seattle’s defense came up with key plays in critical moments: they forced three turnovers in the game while committing only one. The Seahawks recorded one takeaway in the red zone and one on the Bengals’ final possession to lock down the contest: they also recovered a fumble on special teams.

Pittsburgh Steelers Review

Pittsburgh never got things going in their season opener as they were hammered into oblivion by the defending champion Patriots in the opener. The Steelers trailed by a 20-0 count at the half and their best chance at getting back in the game came on the opening drive of the third quarter. Pittsburgh drove to the New England one-yard line but was unable to punch it in and settled for a 19-yard field goal by Chris Boswell. The Steelers gave up a touchdown as New England took the ensuing kickoff and covered 75 yards in four plays to take a 27-3 edge and you could turn the lights out on Pittsburgh in that one.

The Steelers were hammered in almost every statistical category in the game. Pittsburgh lost the total offense battle by a 465-308 margin, gave up 24 first downs while recording 15 and committed the game’s lone turnover. In addition, the Steelers lost the time of possession by a 32:33 to 27:27 margin in the contest. Pittsburgh finished with only four first downs in the opening half and they turned the ball over on downs twice, including misfiring on a 4th and 1 from the Patriots’ 47-yard line with under two minutes to play in the first half thanks to a drop by Donte Moncrief. The Steelers made a move on Monday, dealing backup QB Josh Dobbs to the Jaguars for a fifth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Seattle Seahawks Offense vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Defense

Running the Ball: Who Has the Edge?

Seattle Seahawks Rushing Offense

Seattle was persistent in trying to run the ball in their opener but struggled to move the sticks against the Bengals. No one is going to mistake Cincinnati as the latest coming of the 1985 Chicago Bears or the 2000 Baltimore Ravens on that side of the ball, which makes the Seahawks’ struggles all the more concerning. After all, the Bengals were 29th in the league in rushing defense last season while they ranked 25th in rushing touchdowns allowed and yards per carry. Has Seattle’s ground game suddenly hit a wall after finishing with only 72 yards on 25 carries in the opener?

Chris Carson led the team as he ran the ball 15 times for 46 yards plus a score: 21 of his yards came on one carry, meaning his other 14 carries totaled just 25 yards. Rashaad Penny contributed six carries for 18 yards while Russell Wilson chipped in four carries for eight yards so far this year. The Seahawks had just one run cover at least 20 yards on the year and have moved the chains via the ground four times this season.

Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense

Pittsburgh was relatively decent at holding the run game in check defensively as far as giving up big plays go. The problem is, the Steelers were so far behind that the Patriots were able to just batter them with the run game to grind the clock and try to move the sticks. Pittsburgh didn’t give up anything massive but the consistent grinding by New England chewed up a lot of clock in the process while helping set up manageable second and third-down situations. The Steelers gave up 99 yards on 29 carries in the game and didn’t allow a run more than 11 yards.

Linebacker Devin Bush made a big impact in his first game as a pro as the 10th overall pick led the team with 11 tackles (seven solo) in the contest. Defensive tackle Cameron Heyward contributed eight tackles (three solo) while Mark Barron had six tackles in his team debut. Stephon Tuitt (two tackles) and Bud Dupree (four tackles) each had two tackles for loss while T.J. Watt (two tackles) had one before leaving with a hip injury. Pittsburgh allowed no runs of at least 20 yards and gave up eight first downs via the ground.

Who Has the Edge?

This is going to come down to how the teams decide to play things out in the contest. Seattle was the league’s #1 ground game last season with 160 yards per game and went for at least 113 yards in 13 of their final 14 regular-season games. Pittsburgh kept New England in check for the most part but they are going to deal with a mobile quarterback in Wilson who can do damage with his legs as much as he can with his arm. The Steelers have to be aggressive but Carson should be more effective than he was in the opening week of the season. Give Seattle a slight edge in this one.

Advantage: Seattle Seahawks

Aerial Assault: Who Has the Upper Hand?

Seattle Seahawks Passing Offense

Seattle did manage to get some big plays in the passing game, which proved critical to their eventual victory. It’s a new-look receiving corps for the Seahawks with Doug Baldwin retired and David Moore out with a non-displaced fracture in his arm with no timetable for return: that has made Tyler Lockett the #1 receiver almost by default at this point. Seattle didn’t do a ton offensively but the plays that they did make through the air proved to be enough to help them prevail.

Russell Wilson completed 14 of 20 passes for 196 yards for two touchdowns with no interceptions. He was sacked four times in the contest, losing 35 yards on those. Chris Carson led the team with six catches out of the backfield for 35 yards and a score. Rookie DK Metcalf set a franchise record for receiving yards in a game by a rookie as he hauled in four passes for 89 yards, breaking a mark set by Hall of Famer Steve Largent. Tight end Nick Vannett reeled in two balls for 16 yards while Lockett made the most of his lone reception as he caught a 44-yard scoring pass that gave the Seahawks the lead for good. Seattle had three pass plays cover at least 20 yards with Metcalf recording two of those: Lockett had the other.

Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Defense

Pittsburgh had their problems containing the passing game against a New England team that had several changes in their receiving corps from a season ago. The Steelers didn’t generate much of a pass rush and were burned repeatedly for big plays as the coverage simply failed to come up with plays at crucial times. Pittsburgh is going to have to be better than they were in the opener as they allowed Tom Brady to throw for 373 yards and three scores against them. Will Mike Tomlin get his team back on track here?

Dupree recorded the only sack for the Steelers in the contest. Safety Terrell Edmunds (six tackles, half-tackle for loss) recorded the only pass defense Pittsburgh has on the season. The Steelers have to be more aggressive, both in getting after the quarterback and making plays on the ball, if they hope to have success. That means Joe Haden (six tackles), Kameron Kelly (seven tackles) and Steven Nelson (three tackles) are going to have to step up. Pittsburgh clearly missed Sean Davis at the safety spot: he returned to practice and could be active for this contest, which would definitely improve the secondary. Pittsburgh gave up seven pass plays that covered at least 20 yards already this season.

Who Has the Edge?

Pittsburgh’s defense was leaky against the Patriots and that was against a New England secondary that had plenty of new faces to work with. The Steelers didn’t seem to faze Brady in the least as he methodically carved up the Pittsburgh secondary for big play after big play. Wilson didn’t do a ton of damage with his arm in the opener but when the Seahawks needed a big play, he delivered. That helped spark Seattle to a victory: with the Steelers struggling right now, you have to think that Wilson gives the Seahawks the upper hand.

Advantage: Seattle Seahawks

Pittsburgh Steelers Offense vs. Seattle Seahawks Defense

Who Has the Edge in the Ground Game?

Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense

Pittsburgh was flummoxed in all facets of their opener against New England and the first game of the post-Antonio Brown era didn’t pan out. Perhaps taking away a premiere receiving threat made life miserable on the offense in general, including the run game. After having a successful year last year despite Le’Veon Bell holding out for the entire year, the Steelers were unable to move the sticks with any regularity and were stuffed on the ground. Pittsburgh totaled just 32 yards on the ground and never established the run game as a factor.

James Conner was bottled up all night as he finished the game with 10 carries for 21 yards in the contest. Ben Roethlisberger picked up seven yards on his lone rushing attempt while Jaylen Samuels ran twice for four yards. Fullback Roosevelt Nix has been ruled out with a knee injury but he isn’t much in the way of being a factor offensively. The Steelers have no run plays that covered at least 20 yards: their long on the season is seven yards. Pittsburgh had just one first down via the ground so far this year.

Seattle Seahawks Rushing Defense

Seattle came up with some tough defense against the Bengals, including a fourth-down stuff of Giovani Bernard, which helped keep them in the game given the way they were sliced and diced through the air. The Seahawks pretty much made Joe Mixon a non-factor before he was injured and then held Bernard in check as well. Seattle limited the Bengals to a total of 34 yards on 14 carries in the game and forced Cincinnati to beat them via the air. As it turned out, they very nearly did exactly that when it was all said and done.

Tre Flowers led the team in tackles from his corner spot with 10 (nine solo) along with a fumble recovery. Bobby Wagner (nine tackles, two tackles for loss), Mychal Kendricks (seven tackles, tackle for loss) and defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson (six tackles, three tackles for loss) were forces to be reckoned with when it came to stopping the Bengals cold. Ben Burr-Kirven finished with only one tackle but forced a pair of fumbles in the game. Along with Flowers, Al Woods and Bradley McDougald each recovered a fumble. Seattle recorded 10.5 tackles for loss in the contest and held Cincinnati to just one first down via the ground.

Who Has the Edge?

We saw how Pittsburgh couldn’t run the ball to save their lives against New England and that could be a problem here as well for them. Seattle shut down Cincinnati in their opener, forcing the Bengals to throw early and often. The Seahawks completely stifled Mixon and Bernard and with the way the Steelers struggled against a New England defense that ranked 11th in rushing yards allowed per game but just 29th in yards per carry allowed, you have to be concerned. Seattle’s front seven controls the line of scrimmage and that gives the edge here.

Advantage: Seattle Seahawks

Who Has the Upper Hand in the Passing Attack?

Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Offense

Pittsburgh, after seeing their run game stifled against New England, became pretty one-dimensional. That was partially dictated by the score as well since the Steelers were down 20-0 at the half in the contest. Pittsburgh struggled to haul in the ball when they went back to pass: the team was credited with a staggering seven drops in the contest, with four of them by Donte Moncrief, who is trying to play through a dislocated finger. The Steelers have to do a better job reeling in passes and moving the sticks if they hope to have success.

Ben Roethlisberger completed 27 of 47 passes for 276 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked once but didn’t lose any yardage on the play. JuJu Smith-Schuster caught six passes for 78 yards while Ryan Switzer hauled in six passes for 29 yards. Conner had four catches for 44 yards out of the backfield while Diontae Johnson (three receptions, 25 yards), Moncrief (three grabs, seven yards) and James Washington (two receptions, 51 yards) are all in the mix as well. The Steelers had four pass plays cover at least 20 yards in the game: Smith-Schuster, Washington, Conner and Vance McDonald each had one in the game.

“Nothing’s changed with that,” Roethlisberger said about Moncrief’s issues. “He’s a smart receiver. He’s a guy that’s going to give you everything he’s got. He’s a veteran guy that’s been around. He can run different routes, not just a deep-ball guy. I really just like the personality that he has. He’s a guy that’s easy to talk to and will communicate back with you. I’m excited about this week. I’m looking forward to big things.

“I’m not discouraged at all. If you saw the game, you saw that I’m not going to shy away from throwing it to him.”

Seattle Seahawks Passing Defense

As effective as Seattle was at preventing the ground game from doing damage, they were carved up through the air. The Seahawks clearly aren’t the Legion of Boom anymore as Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas aren’t in the secondary making quarterbacks think twice and receivers hear footsteps. Seattle was carved up early and often as Andy Dalton threw all over the field: he completed 35 of 51 passes for 418 yards plus a pair of scores. The Seahawks have to find a way to clamp down and make things tougher going forward or elite quarterbacks will carve them up.

Quinton Jefferson (six tackles, two pass defenses) had a pair of sacks to lead the way for the Seahawks. Rasheem Green and the recently acquired Jadeveon Clowney each recorded a sack while the fifth one was credited to the team (upon further review, it may well be Jefferson’s third sack.) Jefferson and Shaquill Griffin (three tackles) each had two pass defenses to lead the way. Clowney (two tackles, sack), Kendricks and Flowers each had one pass defense. The Seahawks totaled seven pass defenses and five sacks while they still search for their first interception of the year.

Who Has the Edge?

This is going to be a matter of whether the Steelers can actually catch the ball better than they did last week against the Patriots. You simply can’t drop seven passes and hope to stay in a game against a good team. Seattle’s pass defense is nothing like it’s been in previous seasons with so much overhaul in their secondary but they were effective getting after the quarterback. The Seahawks were gashed by Andy Dalton, who had a career day, and Pittsburgh should be able to capitalize on that weakness here. Look for Washington to be more involved at the expense of Moncrief as the Steelers get the edge here.

Advantage: Pittsburgh Steelers

Special Teams, Coaching, & Intangibles

Special Teams

Advantage: Seattle Seahawks

Coaching

Advantage: Push

Intangibles

Seattle Seahawks

Seattle is 20th in the league in scoring offense as they put up 21 points per game on the season. The Seahawks are 29th in the league in total offense with 233 yards per game and stand 25th in yards per play with 4.8 yards per snap. Seattle is 12th in the league in scoring defense as they give up an average of 20 points per contest. The Seahawks are just 23rd in total defense as they allow 429 yards per game and stand 20th as they give up 6.1 yards per play. Seattle is tied for fifth in the takeaway/giveaway department as they are a +2 on the season.

The Seahawks are tied for first in red-zone success as they have cashed in 100 percent of their drives that got inside the opposition’s 20-yard line into touchdowns. Seattle is tied for 1st in red-zone defense as they hold opposing teams to a zero percent success rate as far as scoring touchdowns go. Seattle is just 23rd in the league in third-down conversions as they have converted 33.33 percent of their situations this season. The Seahawks are decent in getting off the field as opposing teams have converted 40 percent of their third downs, which is 13th in the league. Seattle is 31st in the league in time of possession as they hold the ball 40.28 percent of the time.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh is 31st in the league in scoring offense as they put up three points per game on the season. The Steelers are 24th in the league in total offense with 308 yards per game and stand 23rd in yards per play with five yards per snap. Pittsburgh is 28th in the league in scoring defense as they give up an average of 33 points per contest. The Steelers are just 26th in total defense as they allow 465 yards per game and stand 24th as they give up 6.9 yards per play. Pittsburgh is tied for 22nd in the takeaway/giveaway department as they are a -1 on the season.

The Steelers are tied for 28th in red zone success as they have cashed in zero percent of their drives that got inside the opposition’s 20-yard line into touchdowns. Pittsburgh is tied for 1st in red-zone defense as they limit opposing teams to a zero percent success rate as far as scoring touchdowns go. Pittsburgh is 26th in the league in third-down conversions as they have converted 25 percent of their situations this season. The Steelers are in the middle of the pack in regards to getting off the field as opposing teams have converted 50 percent of their third downs, which is 19th in the league. Pittsburgh is 26th in the league in time of possession as they hold the ball 45.75 percent of the time.

Who Has the Edge?

Pittsburgh didn’t give up any scores in the red zone but that was mainly due to the Patriots hitting big plays. Brady threw touchdown passes of 20, 25 and 58 yards in the game, making the red zone a non-factor. Seattle was good at coming up with takeaways in their win over the Bengals, including forcing and recovering a fumble on a punt, and another one that thwarted a red zone drive for the Bengals. Pittsburgh is at home, but they have to be more consistent and avoid giving up big plays. The Seahawks are a tough team, even on the road, and their smashmouth style travels well. This one ends up a push.

Advantage: Push

Final Outlook – Time to place those bets!

Both teams had their struggles at stopping the passing attack in their respective openers. That has to be a point of concern as Roethlisberger is capable of putting up big numbers at a moment’s notice, provided his receivers come up with actually catching the ball. Seattle’s power run style can make life tough as they have Carson to pound between the tackles and then use Penny for outside runs. The Seahawks can grind the clock and wear down the Steelers’ defense, which will set them up in the second half. While Carson was neutralized for the most part, it’s important to note that his big run in the game came with just over three minutes to play.

Pittsburgh is at home here but until we see that the offense is clicking, you have to fade the Steelers a little bit. After all, the team lost Bell and Brown from their offense in the last two years. The replacement at running back (Conner) has been good but finding someone to slot in opposite Smith-Schuster is going to take time. Moncrief failed to deliver an impact, catching three of 10 targets for a total of seven yards. It will take time for Roethlisberger to develop chemistry with those guys, and that doesn’t bode well in the early going, especially with the pass rush that the Seahawks boast.

The Seahawks are 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 games following an ATS loss, 5-1 ATS in their last 6 road games and 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing more than 250 yards passing in their previous game. Pittsburgh has gone 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight-up loss, 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 games on grass and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing more than 30 points in their previous game. Take the points and the Seahawks here.

As far as the total goes, both teams had their issues putting points on the board in the opener. You have to think that the defenses will be sharper than they were in their openers as neither team will get shredded through the air like they were last week. While the last meeting went well over the total, you can’t expect that here. Seattle has seen the under go 4-0 in their last 4 games in September, 4-0 in their last 4 road games vs. a team with a losing home record and 4-0 in their last four week 2 contests. Pittsburgh has seen the under go 4-0 in their last 4 games following a straight-up loss, 4-0 in their last 4 games after accumulating more than 250 yards passing in their previous game and 12-2 in their last 14 in week 2. The under is 4-1 in the last five meetings between the teams and 4-1 in the last five matchups in Pittsburgh. Look for this one to be more of a defensive struggle that falls short of the mark.

Updated on Sep 14 at 2:00pm EDT

Seattle is shuffling through players to see who might be taking the field and who will be out of action for this one. Backup center Joey Hunt is out with an ankle injury, leaving the Seahawks thin behind Justin Britt. Defensive tackle Poona Ford is doubtful with a calf injury: the team could shift Al Woods or Bryan Mone into the starting lineup. Backup corner Neiko Thorpe is doubtful, which means Jamar Taylor or Akeem King will be the nickel back.

Receiver David Moore is out though he could return next week from a broken collarbone: that could push Jaron Brown back into the starting lineup. Ziggy Ansah has practiced all week but is questionable as he continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery: if he doesn’t play, Rasheem Greene would be the next man up. Finally, safety Tedric Thompson is doubtful: it sounds as if Lano Hill would get the start over Marquise Blair if he were to miss the game. On the plus side, first-round pick L.J. Collier is back after missing the last six weeks with an ankle injury.

Pittsburgh, comparatively, is pretty healthy when you get right down to it. Roosevelt Nix is the lone player that has been ruled out: he has a knee injury and is expected to miss a couple of weeks. As the fullback, he’s not much of a factor in the offensive scheme anyway. Center Maurkice Pouncey is questionable with an ankle injury: if he can’t go, the team would turn to B.J. Finney. Joe Haden is the other question mark with a shoulder issue: Artie Burns or Mike Hilton would step up to replace him opposite Steven Nelson if he can’t go.

The weather is expected to be favorable for this contest. Game-time temperatures are expected to be in the mid-70s with the forecast currently not projecting any precipitation. Of course, as we saw Thursday night with Carolina and Tampa Bay, you never know if some might blow in out of nowhere. The heat index is projected to be in the low-80s with winds expected to hover around five miles per hour from the south-southwest.

When the initial lines opened for this contest, Pittsburgh was a four-point favorite with the over/under set at 46. points. As of Saturday afternoon, there’s been little movement on the line as the Steelers still are favored by 3.5 to four points depending on where you look. The over/under has ticked up slightly as it has moved to 47.5 points in this contest. Currently, the money line shows Pittsburgh as a solid -180 to -200 favorite while Seattle can be found as a +150 to +170 underdog depending on the sportsbook. As of this writing, 54 percent of the bets are backing Pittsburgh -3.5 points. When it comes to the money line, 59 percent of the wagers are backing the Seahawks as the visiting team. Meanwhile, 66 percent of bets are projecting this one to go over the total.

Pittsburgh can’t play much worse than they did on either side of the ball last week. The plus for the Steelers is that they are facing a banged-up Seattle team that was just torched by Andy Dalton for a career-high in passing yards in the opener. On the flip side, Seattle should play better than they did last week and you can expect that Lockett will be targeted more often than he was against the Bengals. The Steelers are at home but they have to show that they are still a team to be reckoned with and not a whipping post as we saw a week ago. Stick with Seattle and the points but don’t be surprised if the Seahawks take it outright.

Seattle Seahawks 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 21

Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.