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Scouting the enemy: Seattle Seahawks

    • 75 posts
    November 21, 2018 5:45 PM PST
    It has been a few years since the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks faced off on the gridiron White Matt Paradis Jersey , but the old AFC West rival is still alive and well — and without question, this year’s season opener presents the opportunity for the Broncos to get revenge against a team who has dealt them a duo of heartbreaks in their past two meetings.In September of 2014, the Broncos were able to erase a twelve-point fourth quarter deficit at CenturyLink Field and send the game into overtime. Unfortunately, the team went on to lose 26-20 after Marshawn Lynched scampered for a touchdown early on in extra time. Just seven months earlier, fans were excited and perhaps overconfident at the prospect of their beloved franchise securing their third Lombardi Trophy. But the opening snap that sailed over Peyton Manning’s head was symbolic of the epic the bed-shitting the Broncos would embark upon on their way to yet another Super Bowl shellacking. That devastating game is certainly one of the franchise’s darkest memories — and one that will forever be ingrained in the minds of Broncos Country.Though it’s safe to say Seahawks fans share the same ill-will toward the Broncos as we do toward them and I don’t blame them one bit. Before their last two victories, the Seahawks had lost 12 out of the past 15 meetings against Denver dating back to 1996. Doling out losses to Seattle is something Broncos Country has come to expect. In head-to-head battle, the Broncos reign supreme with a 34-21 series lead. But that was then and this is now. While I admire the success the Pete Carroll led Seahawks have had in his tenure as head coach, there is no doubt this year’s incarnation is a far cry from superior teams fielded in the past.The Legion of Boom is no longer. Richard Sherman is in San Francisco, Kam Chancellor retired, Byron Maxwell is on injured reserve and Earl Thomas’ status for Sunday’s game is tenuous at best after an extensive holdout. Defensive linemen Sheldon Richardson, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, all of whom gave the Broncos’ offensive line fits in Super Bowl 48 are elsewhere. K.J. Wright remains, but will be inactive for the season opener due to a knee injury. It appears that the last man standing from their vaunted Super Bowl defense is Bobby Wagner Youth Darian Stewart Jersey , but he can’t do everything out there.Nevertheless, Russell Wilson is still the heart and soul of their offense and is coming off a tremendous 2017 campaign. Without question, the major key to victory will be containing him. However, with a questionable offensive line and mediocre at best line-up of skill position players around him — I’m not too concern about the Broncos’ ability to start of the season with a big win at home.Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY SportsKeys to the GameEstablishing the running game, controlling the clockIt’s no secret that both Denver and Seattle would like to control the pace of the game by establishing a sound rushing attack. The Broncos have Royce Freeman, Devontae Booker and Phillip Lindsay as a trio that shows a lot of promise, but the same can be said for the young duo of Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny — who are both tough runners and hard to bring down on initial contact. Whatever team establishes themselves first on the ground will have a great chance of winning the game. Both quarterbacks thrive on play action, but in order for that to be successful, you have to move the chains with the rushing attack.Denver’s Secondary vs. Seattle’s Receiving CorpsThe Broncos’ secondary has a handful of new additions including Traimane Brock, Adam Jones and rookie Isaac Yiadom — but Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby are still the heart of the Denver secondary. Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett are the Seahawks’ top receivers, but former Denver wideout Brandon Marshall is their third receiver and shouldn’t be discounted as a threat. I’m comfortably with Harris Jr. and Roby locking down their top two options, but am concerned and interested to see how Denver combats Marshall. I believe he could be an underrated X-Factor for their offense and the defense needs to have a sound game plan that keeps him in check, even if he isn’t the same elite receiver he used to be.Turn up the heat on Russell WilsonIt’s hard to believe this is Wilson’s seventh season in the National Football League White Case Keenum Jersey , but it is — and it seems like each and every year he seems to get better and has no shortage of incredible plays that make your jaws drop. Inside the pocket or outside the pocket, Wilson is one of the most accurate passers in the league and doesn’t make many mistakes. If you let him run around or give him too much time, he is going to make you pay.In order to limit his effectiveness, the Broncos’ pass rush will need to do better than they have in the last two meetings and get after him. Luckily, the team has a plethora of sack artists and an improved defensive line that should help in that regard. I expect Von Miller and Bradley Chubb to have good games, and don’t be surprised if DeMarcus Walker provides a significant boost in certain packages when he is kicked inside to get after Wilson.Hart’s PredictionEven though the Seahawks aren’t the top-tier foe the Broncos have faced in recent memory, they are still a formidable team that needs to be taken seriously. If Denver is able to keep Wilson at bay and establish a ground game offensively, I expect good things to happen. Neither are an easy task, but with the vast improvements the franchise has made on both sides of the ball, I believe they have what it takes to earn themselves a hard-fought victory in the season opener. I think Case Keenum will perform well and believe the offense will start off hot against a Seattle defense that is a shell of what it used to be.Broncos 30, Seahawks 23.Phillip Lindsay quickly becoming a hero in Broncos underdog story In the wide world of sports, the underdog is always the best story. We can’t resist the athletes or teams who have “no shot,” yet find a way to shine despite the apparent insurmountable odds. Perhaps we find a human connection in the sentiment that the athletes are right off the street. Regardless , a good underdog story will always climb to the top of the bestseller list.There’s a catch — as long as it’s natural. There are times it’s forced. Fans want so badly for a player or team to be that next great story, it blinds them to reality. But when it happens organically, it is a sight to behold. Fans of the Denver Broncos are witness to the best story in the NFL right now: undrafted running back Phillip Lindsay. The hometown kid is writing a remarkable tale. In his first game in the stadium that was too expensive for him to go to as a kid, he became the third undrafted rookie in the common draft era (since 1967) to amass at least 100 yards from scrimmage and score a touchdown in his debut. He was also the first running back in NFL history to do so. The doubter would say, “Nice story, no way Lindsay will follow it up.” After Sunday’s come-from-behind 20-19 win over the Oakland Raiders, Lindsay is the first undrafted player in NFL history with 100 or more scrimmage yards in each of his first two games. For the game, he led the Broncos in rushing with 107 yards on 14 carries for 7.6 yards per carry. As I told Adam Malnati on the latest MHR Radio Podcast, it’s to the point now that fans need to grab the popcorn, sit back and enjoy the show. As we speak, Lindsay is the NFL’s rookie rushing leader with 178 yards. Saquon Barkley is second with 134.But it’s not just Lindsay. On Sunday, two other undrafted free agents left their mark on this game in Shaquil Barrett and Tim Patrick. Barrett with the blocked extra point that proved the difference in the game, showing fans once again why they need to rock the Orange Rush shirt. After all , the Orange Rush saved the day. Now if we could see Barrett get more snaps opposite Von Miller, since Barrett finds a way to make an impact whenever he’s on the field.Patrick had the clutch 26-yard catch to set up the game-winning Brandon McManus 36-yard field goal. There also is the touchdown Patrick had ripped from him after a terrible replay reversal, but I digress.This isn’t anything new for this franchise or fan base. When it comes to undrafted gems, Denver seems to unearth them regularly. Some of the best underdog stories in the history of the NFL have come from the Broncos organization: Rod Smith (who should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame). Chris Harris Jr.Hell, the franchise itself is an underdog story. There’s always this sentiment from people throughout the nation that Denver is still a “cow town.” That the Broncos aren’t that good.In the wide of world of sports, the underdog will always be the story fans can’t put down.And in Denver, there are plenty of page-turners. 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