Many pundits had the Seattle Seahawks among their bottom two or three teams going into the 2022 season. But perhaps they had underestimated the ability of their head coach, who has been forced to improvise more than once.
After a heart-stopping 48-45 road win over the Detroit Lions, Pete Carroll has his team at the .500 mark (2-2) and, for the time being, a contender in the NFC West.
And they’ll look to take another step forward on Sunday as they pay a visit to the Big Easy to play the New Orleans Saints, in a game that begins at 1 PM ET at the Superdome. It will be carried on a regional basis on Fox Network.
BetAnySports offers less juice on this game, which gives you more value. In the pro football odds they’ve posted, the Saints are favored:
New Orleans Saints -5.5
Seattle Seahawks +5.5
Over 46 Points -110
Under 46 Points -110
One thing everybody’s got to understand about this Seattle team is that Rashaad Penny is quietly developing into a tailback who can perform at an elite level much of the time, and if he can do that, he is fulfilling coach Carroll’s wishes of having an offense that is highlighted by the ground game. It really was a matter of philosophies that may have led to the cold distance between Carroll and Russell Wilson, who wanted to pass the ball more and more.
Last season Penny led all running backs in yards per carry (6.3). This year, after his 151-yard, two-touchdown performance against Detroit, he is now averaging six yards a pop, with 4.57 yards a carry after contact.
As injuries have affected the Seattle backfield, Penny, who has suffered through some hurts himself as well as “mental health issues,” has been a godsend.
Yet after we have said all of that, the Seahawks are still only running the ball 39% of the time.
And part of this is that QB Geno Smith is also engineering an attack that has defied expectations. He is averaging 7.9 Intended Air Yards, which means that he is throwing it a distance beyond the line of scrimmage, and this isn’t one of those deals where his receivers are continually catching short dumps and running the rest of the way, as the Seahawks are averaging just 3.7 yards after the catch.
Whatever the case, with 77% completions, Smith is operating at a high level of efficiency, so much so that he is third in the NFL in quarterback rating, fifth in yards per attempt and #1 in accuracy.
Oh, and in case you were curious, Russell Wilson’s quarterback rating is 16th in the league.
So he began the season as a liability, and as of now, he’s a revelation.
And there is something to be said for what Pete Carroll told reporters after the opening-game win over Denver, which is that Smith is better than he’s ever been and part of the reason is that he has played in the system for four years.
The Saints would like to have running back Alvin Kamara available here. And as of this writing, there is no definitive word about Jameis Winston, who has four fractures in his back and sat out the London game against Minnesota. Andy Dalton had better metrics in his place, but we know how limited he really is at this point in time. Winston had five interceptions and eleven sacks in three games. So is there any news that would get Saints backers ecstatic? Chris Olave (335 yards, 16 per catch) has been a rookie standout, but the other receivers haven’t given coach Dennis Allen what he wanted. Latavius Murray, who scored a TD in the 28-25 loss to Minnesota and then went back to the practice squad, was signed by Denver.
Looking at what we have in front of us, we’d be inclined to take the points with the Seahawks.
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