Seahawks X-Factors Who Could Make a Difference in Week 6
After a big win in primetime against the rival Los Angeles Rams, the Seahawks head to Cleveland for the first time since 2011 to face the struggling Browns.
While the Seahawks have not played well in Cleveland in recent history, they are playing against a Browns team looking to regroup from a lopsided 31-3 loss to the 49ers on Monday Night Football.
Despite the lopsided defeat, Cleveland talented but flawed football team that could pose a greater threat than what was shown last week. For Seattle to win in a tough road environment, these three players must step up.
Offensive X-Factor: Chris Carson
Cleveland surrendered yardage in bunches on the ground against the 49ers last week. Matt Brieda and Tevin Coleman ran wild from the backfield and runs from receivers and even tight ends on the outside gashed the Browns. No matter how talented the Browns offense may be, they can be neutralized by controlling the clock. Doing so will require a heavy dose of Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny. Carson will be the hammer up the middle, while Penny will be the one cut machine that could bust a long touchdown at any moment. Up the middle, the Seahawks will have to contend with defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, but when facing him last year with the Vikings, the Seahawks were able to trap him successfully with pulling guards. I expect to see some similar scheming this weekend with Mike Iupati and potentially Jamarco Jones pulling and trapping from the guard spots. Using Carson will wear down that Browns defensive front and pose big problems for defensive coordinator Steve Wilks. The Browns have excellent edge rushers such as Myles Garrett, so the Seahawks will need to ensure that they protect Russell Wilson with a dominant run game. Carson has hopefully put his early season fumbling issues behind him and is poised to hit 100-plus rushing yards for a third straight game.
Defensive X-Factor: Ezekiel Ansah
Offensively, the Browns are loaded at the skill positions. Yet, the Achilles heel for the team has been the offensive line. Baker Mayfield has been a turnover machine in the early part of the regular season and it’s partially due to the constant duress he has faced. The 49ers were able to chase him down for four sacks on Monday night along with multiple pressures. He threw two interceptions without a touchdown and finished with just eight completions on 22 pass attempts. The opportunity is there for Ziggy Ansah to feast and enjoy a breakout game. I like his matchup lined up across from failed first round pick Greg Robinson, and while I think Mayfield is a decent athlete, Ansah should have no problem dragging him down. I expect the Browns will try to take the heat off of Mayfield with a heavy dose of Nick Chubb, so Ansah will need to hold up at the point of attack defending the run as well. While he is still rounding into form, this is a task Ansah should be up to as he tries to pressure Mayfield into throwing more passes to players wearing the wrong uniform.
Special Teams X-Factor: Jason Myers
One area that the 49ers weren’t dominant in was in the kicking game. If the Seahawks are going to play the game of ball control, they can’t afford empty possessions. Myers hasn’t quite found his consistency yet this season and missed last week from 48 yards out at the end of the second quarter, but I have felt a lot less concerned about him than I have about recent Seattle kickers such as Blair Walsh and Sebastian Janikowski. If the Seahawks can continue to chew up yards with the run game and consistently enter Browns territory, Myers should get plenty of opportunities to re-instill confidence from the coaching staff and Seattle faithful.