A crucial Week 9 is upon us, one that pits the Seahawks against the Bills in a road game that could set the table for Seattle’s run at the No. 1 seed in the NFC. This is, at least on paper, Seattle’s biggest non-divisional matchup left on the schedule.
Should the Seahawks beat the Bills this weekend, they’ll improve to 6-0 against non-divisional opponents with games against the Eagles, Jets, Giants, and Washington left to play. Seattle will be a sizeable favorite in each of those games, which means a 10-0 record in such games is entirely possible.
Getting a win in Buffalo is Seattle’s next task. Here are five burning questions ahead of this Sunday’s matchup.
1. How will Carlos Dunlap fare in his Seahawks debut?
Dunlap immediately becomes Seattle’s most prominent edge rusher. Despite having just 1.0 sack through seven games with the Bengals, there’s reason to believe that Dunlap will have a resurgence in 2020 with the Seahawks. For starters, he expressed his excitement for a fresh start. Dunlap said he hopes to be the final piece to Seattle’s potential Super Bowl run.
Beyond that, he’s financially motivated to play well. Dunlap reworked his contract with the Seahawks and will only make $2 million for the rest of the season. Should prove invaluable and be kept around in Seattle, he’ll earn a $3 million bonus on the fifth day of the 2021 league year.
Dunlap should see a full workload against the Bills. Seahawks fans would surely love to see some disruption from the newly acquired pass rusher.
2. How will Jamal Adams’ return impact the Seahawks blitz rate?
Adams will finally return to the lineup after missing four games due to a groin injury. Despite playing in just three games, Adams is still tied for the team lead with 2.0 sacks. His return will be a welcome sight for both the secondary and the pass rush.
We’ve seen two extremes from Seattle the last two weeks in regard to blitz rate. The Seahawks played the Cardinals mostly straight up while taking a blitz-happy approach against the 49ers. Despite Josh Allen’s athleticism, Adams’ return should ensure that Seattle still blitzes regularly. The key will be to vary looks so that the Seahawks defense doesn’t get predictable with its pressures.
The combination of Adams’ return and Dunlap’s debut gives tangible reason for optimism in Seattle.
3. Will Tre’Davious White shadow DK Metcalf?
Metcalf has gone toe-to-toe against some of the league’s best cornerbacks. In Week 2, Metcalf was shadowed by Stephon Gillmore. In Week 6, Cardinals star defensive back Patrick Peterson traced the Seahawks phenom.
Metcalf will likely get the same treatment against All-Pro corner Tre’Davious White in Buffalo. That will be one of the top matchups to watch.
4. Is it going to be the DeeJay Dallas show again?
Carlos Hyde (hamstring) is expected to miss his second straight game. Chris Carson (foot), while a long shot, might have a chance to play against the Bills. If Carson is out once again, Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas will be the lone healthy running backs for Seattle.
Last week we saw Dallas get a lion’s share of the workload against the 49ers, out-touching Homer 23-1. Homer’s knee should be healthier this week, meaning we’d likely see more of a split between he and Dallas. The Seahawks also have the option of flexing up Alex Collins from the practice squad.
5. Will we finally see Damon Harrison?
I have been incorrectly predicting that Harrison would make his Seahawks debut for weeks now, and there’s no sense in backing off that now. Harrison could join Dunlap and Adams as a third key figure who could potentially provide a boost to the Seahawks defense. People want to see “Snacks.” Hopefully, this is the weekend it happens.