Seattle Seahawks vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Everything you need to know
Seattle doesn't need to win this game in order to make the playoffs as a wild card team but a victory certainly couldn't hurt. The Seahawks could lose and still wrap up a berth with a win next week at home against Arizona (3-11). But why wait?
Sunday's game is much bigger for Kansas City (11-3), which entered the weekend tied with the Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC West and in the race for home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. However, The Chargers (11-4) lost 22-10 on Saturday night at home to Baltimore (9-6). Now the Chiefs can clinch the AFC west title and home field advantage with a win at Seattle.
If Kansas City loses and Houston defeats Philadelphia (7-7) on Sunday, then the Chiefs would still have to contend with both the the Chargers and Houston (10-4) in the race for home field heading into the final weekend.
Betting line: Kansas City minus 2, over/under 54 1/2.
Time: 5:15 p.m., Sunday.
Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle
Radio: Portland, KFXX, 1080 AM and Portland, KGON, 92.3 FM
Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright (knee) will play his fourth game of the season.
Safety Tedric Thompson (chest/ankle) is out. Questionable are right guard D.J. Fluker (hamstring), safety Bradley McDougald (knee), running back Rashaad Penny (knee), cornerback Shaquill Griffin (hip), right tackle Germain Ifedi (groin), long snapper Tyler Ott (illness) and defensive tackle Jarran Reed (oblique/groin).
For Kansas City: wide receiver Sammy Watkins (foot) is out. Running back Spencer Ware (hamstring) is doubtful. Cornerback Kendall Fuller (thumb) is doubtful.
When the Seahawks have the ball
Run, run, run and run some more.
Seattle's commitment to the running game this season could pay off big time in the playoffs and an example of the force that the Seahawks have become on the ground should be on display Sunday night. Kansas City has the 27th-ranked rushing defense in the NFL allowing 5.0 yards per game on the ground. That creates the perfect scenario for the Seahawks, who will look to control the ball and keep Kansas City's offense on the sideline as much as possible.
When Seattle looks to throw it, that shouldn't be a problem either. Kansas City ranks last in passing yards allowed and has surrendered 27 touchdown passes. However, it also ranks tied for second in the NFL with 46 sacks. Fortunately for Seattle, the best way to defuse a pass rush is to run the ball well.
The Chiefs could be a little better against the pass if safety Eric Berry's role expands. After returning from injury, he played 30 snaps in the team's loss last week to the Los Angeles Chargers.
When Kansas City has the ball
Kansas City's offense, tops in the NFL, has slowed down a bit lately for a variety of reasons. The December weather has an impact on passing teams, opposing defenses have more game video to prepare with and the release of running back Kareem Hunt has erased a major threat out of the backfield for the Chiefs.
Still, quarterback Patrick Mahomes II is a one-man wrecking crew on offense and Seattle will be minus safety Tedric Thompson and safety Bradley McDougald is banged up, but expected to play.
Mahomes will likely get his numbers. But if the Seattle offense runs the ball well, Mahomes might not be enough to win this game for Kansas City alone.
Kansas City coach Andy Reid on Mahomes' ability to make crazy throws: “I said, ‘man, I’m a heck of a coach teaching all that stuff.’ Listen, some of that just comes natural to him and the main thing is that he’s accurate with it and does it at the right time. You’ve got to make sure that it doesn’t mess you up and he’s good with that so it hasn’t hindered him in that way. Not just show, in other words.”
Seattle coach Pete Carroll on facing Kansas City: “It’s a great way to celebrate the holidays. It’s a really important ballgame, as everybody knows and we want to play really good on Sunday night. We’ve had a good week. I like the way it’s gone across the board and we know we’re up against a really good club and we’ve got to play right and do right. It’s a great challenge and we’re looking forward to it.”
Seattle is still smarting from failing to clinch a playoff berth last Sunday at San Francisco thanks in large part to a franchise-record 148 penalty yards. But the 26-23 overtime loss to the 49ers helped remin the Seahawks that they are not good enough to make numerous unforced errors and expect to win very many games.
Chances are that Seattle learned that lesson and will respond with a strong performance against Kansas City. Without facing the threat of Hunt, Seattle will be able to get after Mahomes enough to slow him down while the Seahawks' offense should dominate with at least 175 rushing yards and quarterback Russell Wilson doing whatever he wants to do.
Prediction: Seattle 33, Kansas City 30.