Bengals offense should have third-down success vs. Seahawks

"If I am the Bengals, I’d just take a knee on first and second down and then throw a 15-yard out pattern for a first on third down."
Cincinnati Bengals v Arizona Cardinals
Cincinnati Bengals v Arizona Cardinals / Norm Hall/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Bengals face their third NFC West opponent of the season when the Seattle Seahawks come to Paycor Stadium for what should be a fun game. The Bengals are 2-3 and are coming off a double-digit win over the Arizona Cardinals while the Seahawks are 3-1 and are coming off their bye week. The week before, they punished the Giants' offense all game long.

The Bengals offense might have surged at the perfect time, as Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase are both coming off monster games in Arizona. The team is still struggling with third-down conversions, however, ranking 23rd in the league with 4.8 third-down conversions per game, according to Team Rankings.

When speaking with Lee Vowell of 12th Man Rising (FanSided's site dedicated to the Seattle Seahawks), he mentioned that the Seahawks' defense struggled with stopping teams on third down. Team Rankings has them ranked in dead last as far as third-down conversions surrendered are concerned, with 8.3 per game.

Something has to give this week then, right? Either the Bengals offense figures out how to convert on third down or the Seahawks defense figures out how to stop teams. Which one is it going to be?

Check out my conversation with Lee below and be sure to give his content a read over on 12th Man Rising as we approach Bengals vs. Seahawks.

Bengals vs. Seahawks Q&A

Q: What were the expectations for the Seahawks entering the season and do you think they've lived up to those to this point? Why or why not?

Lee: My expectations for the Seahawks entering the season were basically hoping they would make the playoffs again, but not thinking they’d make a long run once there. Of course, the team overperformed in 2022 so there could have been some regression as well. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened yet. 

At 3-1, they are just where I was thinking they’d be, however not the way they got there. I thought they’d beat the Rams in Week 1 but got smashed. Then they did the Seattle-y thing and beat a good Lions team in Week 2 after many might have already counted Seattle out in 2023. Beating bad Panthers and Giants teams was a must, though. 

Q: What is the Seahawks' biggest strength? What is their biggest weakness?

Lee: The Seahawks' biggest strength overall is head coach Pete Carroll. He’s massively underappreciated after almost a decade-and-a-half of success in Seattle and every year the national media seems to want to discount the Seahawks. But Carroll, especially with a young team, has a way of instilling a belief that the team can win. The players change and that quarterback changes and yet Carroll still finds a way to stay successful.

On the field, Seattle’s strength is their offensive skill players. Besides DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, Seattle has a couple of excellent running backs in Kenneth Walker III and Zach Charbonnet. And quarterback Geno Smith gets a lot more out of his tight end group than Russell Wilson ever did.

Seattle’s biggest weakness is third-down defense. They simply stink. The Seahawks are 31st in the NFL in allowing third-down conversions currently, and they have had that issue for most of the last six years. If I am the Bengals, I’d just take a knee on first and second down and then throw a 15-yard out pattern for a first on third down. 

Q: The reason the Seahawks are 3-1 is _____.

Lee: …offensive line coach Andy Dickerson. Geno Smith and the offense have played well enough and the defense has gotten a bit better every game, but Seattle is nowhere near 3-1 if they don’t have Dickerson. Seattle lost both their starting offensive tackles in Week 1 (though they should get left tackle Charles Cross back this week), have lost both guards at times, and during one point in Week 4, Seattle had zero presumed starters playing at their expected positions. Still, Dickerson has gotten his group so prepared that the line doesn’t commit too many penalties and their efficiency rate isn’t far off what was expected before the season. 

Q: Who has been the Seahawks' MVP so far?

Lee: Seattle’s MVP through the first four games is probably defensive tackle Jarran Reed. Seattle brought him back in free agency this offseason and then surprisingly plugged him in at nose guard, a position he had never played before. But he’s blossomed so far with 6 quarterback hits, 2 sacks, and a couple of tackles for loss. He’s also a huge reason Seattle’s run defense has improved immensely from 2022. 

Q: Which Bengals player has Seahawks fans the most worried in this match-up?

Lee: I don’t want to go with Joe Burrow here because that seems too obvious. Otherwise, it must be Ja’Marr Chase. If he isn’t the best receiver in the NFL, he’s close. Seattle’s cornerbacks are capable of being good with rookie Devon Witherspoon and second-year Riq Woolen, but crossing patterns still give Seattle fits. Chase could find a lot of open space over the middle of the field and break a long run or two off after he catches the ball. 

Q: In one sentence, how do you think this game will play out?

Lee: I will give you a headline: Cincinnati Bengals continue to find themselves and defeat the Seattle Seahawks in Week 6.

Q: The Seahawks will win if _____.

Lee: …the run game is used early and then often so that Seattle can keep the Bengals off the field. Kenneth Walker and Zach Charbonnet are capable of controlling a game, but offensive coordinator Shane Waldron just needs to make sure not to get pass-happy. 

Q: Give us your score prediction.

Lee: I think the Bengals win after they get a two-score lead and then Seattle finds a way to make it a bit tighter. Bengals 28 Seahawks 21.

Thanks again to Lee for taking the time to answer my questions. Be sure to check out his work over on 12th Man Rising.

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