The NFL schedule makers could not help but make Russell Wilson’s first game with the Denver Broncos come in Seattle against the Seahawks on a Monday night.
It should be an emotional evening for Wilson and an awkward one for the Seahawks, but it also is a good opportunity for the quarterback to shine as an NFL pick.
Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks
Monday, September 12, 2022 – 08:15 PM EDT at Lumen Field
Russell Wilson: Don’t Call It a Revenge Game
For starters, Russell Wilson is far too easygoing to be seeking revenge this week. Save that headline for Baker Mayfield taking on the Browns.
Wilson had been rumored to be on the move from Seattle, and in March, both sides made it happen with the trade to Denver. Now the Broncos finally have their quarterback position figured out again.
This was a prolific offense years ago when Peyton Manning was the quarterback. After he retired in 2016, we sat through six years of very bland results from Denver. The Broncos needed this move so bad, and Wilson should be able to instantly improve their offense.
- Since 2016, Denver has 12 games with at least 28 points scored, tied with the Giants for the fewest in the NFL.
- Wilson’s Seahawks had 37 games with at least 28 points scored since 2016, tied for the eighth most in the league.
- Since 2016, the Broncos have had 13 games where a quarterback passed for 300 yards, and they are 4-9 in those games.
- In that same time, Wilson is 11-6 when he threw for 300 yards with Seattle.
- Wilson has 29 games with at least three touchdown passes since 2016.
- The Broncos have had nine such games since 2016.
One could argue that Wilson is downgrading at wide receiver as DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are a better duo than Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy to this point. The season-ending injury to third receiver Tim Patrick also does not help.
But these receivers are still good, and Wilson should be able to unlock the potential in Jeudy as he enters his third season. Javonte Williams also looks like a legit three-down running back. Wilson was right to get away from the rebuild in Seattle.
Denver Offense vs. Seattle Defense
Does Pete Carroll Know Best?
One angle we tend to discuss with matchups like this is that the old coach and team know the quarterback so well that they know his weaknesses and will know how to exploit him.
Maybe that is true to some degree, but the quarterback, especially a future Hall of Famer, knows some tendencies of his old coach and defense too from practicing against them for years.
The Seahawks have a new defensive coordinator in Clint Hurtt, but Wilson can make some pretty good assumptions that he’s not going to blitz him that much, and the Seahawks lack a dominant pass rusher.
The Seahawks ranked 26th in pressure rate last year and had one of the lowest blitz rates.
This is also such a unique matchup since we have no real idea what the Denver offense will look like. Wilson did not play any snaps in the preseason and Nathaniel Hackett is a rookie head coach coming over from Matt LaFleur’s Packers.
When New England’s Bill Belichick faced Tom Brady as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season, he was able to hold him without a touchdown pass in a low-scoring game.
But Belichick also had 23 starts of game tape on Brady in Tampa Bay as well as prior knowledge of how a Bruce Arians-coached offense likes to operate.
For crying out loud, Poona Ford has the highest cap number on Seattle’s roster this year. If you didn’t know any better, you might think I just made that name up.
If Wilson was going up against Bobby Wagner, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, K.J. Wright, and Kam Chancellor, then we could talk about Carroll having an edge in this matchup.
But with the Seahawks looking to start multiple mid-round rookie draft picks in the secondary, no dominant pass rusher, and the disappointing Jamal Adams at safety, this should be a treat for Wilson.
The Geno Smith Factor
In a way, it’s too bad Drew Lock lost the Seattle quarterback competition, or we could have had an ultimate revenge game. But the job belongs to Geno Smith for now.
He got through 95 pass attempts last year with only 1 interception, but he settled for a sack on 12% of his dropbacks, which is something he’s been doing for years in the NFL. Smith’s sack rate is 12% on 175 pass plays since 2016.
Smith has lost 41.2% of his 34 career starts by at least seven points. If we only look at games where his team allowed more than 17 points, then that rate goes up to 60.9%.
Denver held 10 teams to 17 or fewer points last season, tied with Buffalo for the most games in the league. This defense should still be very good with corner Patrick Surtain II already impressing as a rookie.
It would be surprising to see Seattle score more than 17 points in this game, while it feels more than likely that the Broncos could get to at least 24 points.
Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks Prediction
Since 2016, NFL road teams favored to win by 6 or 6.5 points are 40-9 SU and 27-20-2 ATS. A lesser Denver team started 3-0 last year with each win by double digits. How? Defense dominated a weak schedule (Giants, Jaguars, and Jets). The 2022 Seahawks should be one of the weakest teams the Broncos face all season.
I am riding with Russ in Week 1. While these teams playing a nail biter would be so fitting for the Wilson and Carroll brands, the main reason to like Denver to cover is the secondary against Smith. It feels like a night for a back-breaking interception.
I would not expect Wilson to have a huge stat line, but he should be able to throw for at least 250 yards and multiple touchdown passes. More importantly, his team will get the comfortable win with much harder games to come later.
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