The Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks will meet at CenturyLink Field on Sunday in one of the biggest games on the Week 12 schedule. They might be two of the NFL’s best teams, but both are in need of wins as they make a push towards the playoffs.
Pittsburgh lost four of their first eight games as they lost Ben Roethlisberger to an injury, but they are on a two-game winning streak after their bye week. Seattle has split the first 10 games of the year, and they’ve looked like the two-time defending NFC champions only sparingly.
Las Vegas oddsmakers continue to treat the Seahawks like they are among the top Super Bowl contenders, making them four-point favorites, according to vegasinsider.com. The over/under is 45.5 points.
The Steelers and Seahawks have a good chance to make the playoffs, but Sunday’s game is important to both teams’ postseason chances. Pittsburgh has an outside chance of winning the AFC North, but Seattle and they will likely have to make the playoffs with wild-card berths.
Two games ago, the Steelers trailed the Cincinnati Bengals by four games in the loss column and were seemingly out of the divisional race. But the Bengals have lost two consecutive contests, keeping Pittsburgh in the hunt. The Steelers have a one-game lead as the No.5 seed in the AFC, and a win would go a long way in helping them secure a playoff spot.
After losing to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 10, the Seahawks fell three games out of first-place and their divisional hopes were virtually dashed. They hold the No.8 seed in the NFC, and they trail the No.6 seed Atlanta Falcons by one game. Seattle is probably the most talented team that doesn’t lead their division, but they won’t be able to survive many more losses.
Legion of Boom
Seattle’s vaunted “Legion of Boom” has been the biggest reason for their success in the last few seasons, but the secondary is no longer the best in football. The unit has struggled at times in 2015, and Ben Roethlisberger could take advantage of an inconsistent Seattle pass defense on Sunday.
The overall numbers say that the Seahawks still have a top pass defense, since they’ve allowed the second-least yards through the air. But the team has taken advantage of playing some of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL, and the league’s top quarterbacks have had success against Seattle. Three of the Seahawks’ five wins have come against Jimmy Clausen, Colin Kaepernick and Matt Cassel, who no longer start at quarterback. Seattle also defeated Matthew Stafford and Blaine Gabbert, who are certainly not among the league’s best quarterbacks.
In games against Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton, Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton, the Seahawks are 0-4, allowing at least 27 points in each game. Roethlisberger ranks fourth in yards per game (315) and ninth in passer rating (97.0) with a chance to improve both numbers in Week 12.
No Lynch, No Problem
Marshawn Lynch began the season as arguably the best running back in the NFL, but hasn’t been much of a contributor to the Seahawks in 2015. With Lynch set to miss at least a month because of surgery for a sports hernia, the team is more than prepared to deal with his absence.
Thomas Rawls has filled in for Lynch when the running back has been banged up this season, and he’s played better than Lynch could have expected to if he remained healthy. Rawls had his best game of the year last week, running the ball 30 times for 209 yards. With 101 rushes this season, Rawls is the NFL leader with 6.0 yards per attempt. Even when Lynch has played this season, he’s only averaged 3.8 yards per carry with one 100-yard performance.
The Seahawks had the NFL’s best rushing defense last season, and they’ve stayed atop the league this season. They average 148.6 rushing yards per game with 38.5 of those yards coming from Russell Wilson. The quarterback is completing a career-high 67.5 percent of his passes, posting a 96.7 passer rating.
Seattle has one of the NFL’s best home-field advantages, but they haven’t been unbeatable at home. The Seahawks allowed two of the league’s best quarterbacks to beat them at home, and that number could become three on Sunday. Roethlisberger should have success throughout the game, and the Seahawks’ inability to stop teams in the fourth quarter could come back to haunt them.
Pittsburgh over Seattle, 27-24