The Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers have played in meaningful games before, most notably Super Bowl XL.
While this game doesn’t bring the same importance as a championship tilt, it is a crucial game for the Seahawks.
Seattle enters the contest with a 5-5 record and will need to continue to pile up wins in order to have another shot at the Lombardi Trophy. The team’s opponent this week, Pittsburgh, is well rested after coming off a bye week.
The Steelers will provide yet another stern test for the Hawks after fairly-recent contests against the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers. Like Arizona, Pittsburgh features a multi-faceted offense that can beat opposing defenses in a number of different ways.
The most obvious way that the Steelers win games is through the right arm of Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben led the NFL in passing yards in 2014 and is off to another strong start. The quarterback is averaging 314.5 yards per game in six contests this season.
Among Roethlisberger’s preferred targets is Antonio Brown. The wide receiver has already amassed 79 receptions and 1,141 receiving yards in 2015, including 27 grabs and 423 yards in his last two games. It’s pretty safe to assume that Richard Sherman and the rest of Seattle’s cornerbacks will be busy on Sunday.
In addition to Brown, the passing offense also features Heath Miller and Martavis Bryant. The dependable Miller is often a safety valve for Roethlisberger. Miller has drawn 27 targets over his last three games. On the season, the tight end is averaging 10.1 yards per reception.
While Miller’s 10.1 yards per reception is respectable, Bryant’s 20 yards per reception is outstanding. The deep threat is tied with Brown for the team lead in touchdowns with five and owns the longest catch a Steelers’ receiver has made this season. That grab went for 88 yards.
Pittsburgh’s passing offense may be just as dynamic as the Cardinals’ ball-moving juggernaut. Considering Seattle had a number of problems with Arizona, the team’s defense will need to be firing on all cylinders to get the better of the Steelers’ aerial attack.
In addition to Roethlisberger and the pass catchers, Pittsburgh also employs a top running back in the form of DeAngelo Williams.
The longtime Carolina Panther has filled in nicely for the injured Le’Veon Bell. Williams has ran the ball 107 times for 534 yards and five touchdowns. He’s also added value in the passing game with 13 catches for 137 yards. Seattle’s defense will certainly feel confident in containing the running back. The Hawks always play their best defense at home, and just held the San Francisco 49ers to a combined 59 yards rushing.
On the other side of the ball, the Seahawks will look to exploit Pittsburgh’s defense. The Steelers have allowed the fifth-most passing yards in the league. This could prove beneficial for the likes of Russell Wilson, Jimmy Graham and Tyler Lockett. Wilson in particular has a chance to post his second straight game with strong passing numbers. The young quarterback previously tossed three touchdowns and accounted for 260 passing yards in a win against San Francisco.
Wilson also did some damage with his legs against the 49ers, rushing for 30 yards. In total, Wilson and Thomas Rawls accounted for 239 rushing yards against the Niners. They’ll look to crack a Pittsburgh defense that has only the fifth-fewest rushing yards and a mere three touchdowns on the ground this season.
Running back Marshawn Lynch (abdomen) remains out, as does wide receiver Paul Richardson (hamstring). Linebacker Bruce Irvin (knee) is doubtful, while center Patrick Lewis (ankle/knee) is questionable. Tackle Garry Gilliam (ankle), guard J.R. Sweezy (shoulder), running back Thomas Rawls (knee), wide receiver Doug Baldwin (ankle) and defensive end Michael Bennett (non-injury related) are all listed as probable.