Seahawks X-Factors Who Could Make a Difference in Week 10
Another week, another uneven game for the Seahawks last week, but they found a way to finish against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The defense struggled to contain Jameis Winston and Mike Evans all game, and kicker Jason Myers could not find consistency on field goal attempts. The Seahawks placed the weight of the game on the shoulders of MVP caliber quarterback Russell Wilson and the offense to pull out a 40-34 victory, and come into the week at 7-2. Next up, a Monday night matchup with Richard Sherman, and a San Francisco 49ers team looking all but close out competition for the NFC West.
Offensive X-Factor: Germain Ifedi
One of the biggest concerns the Seahawks will face this week is the 49ers impressive defensive line. As with a lot of positional groups on this team, the Seahawks offensive line has had an up and down performance this year. Conversely, the 49ers front four has emerged as an elite unit this season and have the capability to wreck a game. The additions of Nick Bosa and Dee Ford to a heavy array of former first round talents has given offensive quarterbacks nightmares this season. The Seahawks are going to have to slow the pass rush in order to emerge victorious and big tackles Duane Brown and Germain Ifedi are going to have a tall task blocking against Bosa, Ford, and company. He may not be elite in his pass sets, but I have been encouraged by what we have seen from Ifedi this season.
He has kept his feet moving and enabled Russell Wilson to take deep shots down the field because he has held up better in his sets. He is going to need to keep building on his success stonewalling the edge rush if the Seahawks have a shot at winning. Of course, he will be a huge factor in the run game as well. This is another game where I think the Seahawks and Ifedi will let the aggressiveness of the defense work against them, by letting them get up field and running the ball underneath. When Seattle goes into their heavy sets, Ifedi will need to win his assignment up front, then continue to climb to the next level. I don’t expect him to be perfect with such a tough matchup, but if he can win more snaps than he loses, it could go a long way toward a Seahawks victory.
Defensive X-factor: Jarran Reed
It is time for the Seahawks to make something special happen along the defensive line. The coaching staff and fan base have been waiting for this group to emerge and every week they come home disappointed. With the 49ers expected to get starting tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey back from injury, the interior of the defensive line needs to be the difference makers, starting with defensive tackle Jarran Reed. The 49ers have a solid 1-2 punch in the run game with Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman, and it will be on Reed to eat up blocks or shoot gaps to slow them down. Doing so will force the 49ers to rely on Jimmy Garoppolo to win this game, and while he had a good week against the Cardinals, I think putting the ball in his court gives the Seahawks their best shot at success. If that happens, Reed will be responsible for pushing that pocket and making Garoppolo uncomfortable. Doing so could force him into a few mistakes, and possibly lead to turnovers for the Seahawks. The time has come for the defensive line to live up to its potential, or Seattle will be forced to blitz often, which could backfire against San Francisco's balanced, well-schemed offense.
Special Teams X-factor: Ugo Amadi
Every week when the Seahawks punt, it seems as though I immediately recognize No. 28 racing down the field. Ugo Amadi may not always be the man who brings down the returner, but he flies down the field and causes disruption. In recent weeks, his ability to get downfield has prevented returners from getting a full head of steam going after catching punts. When he does hit the ball carrier square, the runner goes down immediately. It should be also noted that 49ers return man Richie James Jr. leads the league in punt return yards and returned a kickoff for a touchdown against the Seahawks last December. With the two teams being such a close from a talent perspective this week, a big hit on special teams could be a difference maker.