What to Watch For: Seattle Seahawks vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Christopher HansenNFL AnalystAugust 24, 2012

The Chiefs need to see what they can get from Andy Studebacker with Tamba Hali suspended for the first game of the season.
The Chiefs need to see what they can get from Andy Studebacker with Tamba Hali suspended for the first game of the season.Peter Aiken/Getty Images

The third preseason game is basically the only opportunity teams have to rehearse for the regular season. It’s a dry run and the starters will play for three quarters or more. Teams make their own preseason schedules, so the Seattle Seahawks were hand-selected by the Kansas City Chiefs for this somewhat important third preseason game.

Since this is the only preseason game that involves a game plan, it is often the best representation of what we can expect from the Chiefs in the regular season.

Don’t expect the Chiefs to give away too many secrets, but they will make a play to defeat the Seahawks defense and stop Russell Wilson.


When the Chiefs have the ball

Franchise player Dwayne Bowe is expected to play, and his on-field presence will mark the first time the offense has been full strength this preseason. The Chiefs offense has been moving the ball effectively this preseason, but the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals are hardly formidable opponents.

Against the Seahawks, the Chiefs will need to be better on offense than they have been in the past two weeks. The Seahawks boast a solid defensive line that is capable of shutting down Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis.

If the Chiefs are unable to move the ball effectively in the running game, Matt Cassel will need to spread the ball to all of his weapons in the passing game without the aid of play action. That could be easier said than done against Seattle’s defensive secondary that boasts Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor.

The Chiefs might choose to exploit the linebackers in Seattle, but they boast an impressive pair on the outside in K.J. Wright and Leroy Hill. Best case for the Chiefs is to attack rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and cornerback Brandon Browner.

Both of the starting cornerbacks in Seattle are capable of matching up with Bowe and Jon Baldwin, so the Chiefs might try to feed Steve Breaston and Dexter McCluster in the slot or the tight ends when they draw a favorable matchup with a linebacker or smaller defensive back like Marcus Trufant.


When the Seahawks have the ball

The Chiefs defense showed a few cracks against the Rams, particularly in the passing game. Brandon Flowers is still out with a heel injury, but the Rams exploited Kendrick Lewis and the linebackers more than they did Javier Arenas and Jalil Brown.

Lewis was injured last week and the veteran Abe Elam will step into his place. If the Chiefs want to stop Russell Wilson, the safeties will need to be in the proper position and react quickly when he squirts out of the pocket and not be manipulated by the smart rookie quarterback in pass coverage. 

Seattle’s offensive line had a lot of trouble with the Broncos defensive line last week, particularly the tackles Breno Giacomini and Russell Okung. The Chiefs should challenge the edge with Justin Houston and allow Andy Studebacker to work against Okung.

With Tamba Hali suspended for one game, the Chiefs should use this preseason game to see what Studebacker can do with the first-team defense, and it might also be prudent do get Cameron Sheffield a few snaps in with the No. 1 defense in pass-rushing situations.

Seattle runs the zone-blocking scheme, and the key to stopping Seattle’s running game will be gap integrity from the front seven. It's Anthony Toribio’s job to tie up two gaps and two blockers to allow Derrick Johnson to attack the running lane.

It's not important to win the preseason game, but it'd be nice to see individual players growing in areas in which they typically struggle and reserves playing well enough to inspire confidence in case they have to replace an injured starter.