NFL

AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

STAR PREVIEW Sun: Seattle Seahawks @ Los Angeles Chargers

Of the ten teams in the league that hold a 3-3 record one of the most surprising (in a good way) are the Seattle Seahawks who many expected (myself included) to struggle this year after the departure of quarterback Russell Wilson.

Strangely they look a better side without him with his replacement Geno Smith playing at a level that we had not previously seen from him since he entered the NFL via the 2013 draft with the New York Jets. Four years with the Jets were followed by a year with the Giants and the another year with the Chargers before he rocked up on the West Coast with Seattle. Prior to this season Smith had only started three games for the Seahawks.

The Chargers have been their typical selves this year and despite a 4-2 record and a talented roster there is always a “could do better” element to their performances. They do come into this game on a three-game winning streak though having posted 34 and 30 points in two of those previous games before outlasting the Broncos 19-16 in overtime in a turgid Monday night game.

It’s no wonder that this game carries one of the highest points totals on the Week 7 slate with both offences functioning better than the opposite side of the ball on their respective sides. Another clue that this game is likely to contain points is that both sides like to play up-tempo, Seattle contests average the fourth-most total points (51.5) whilst the Chargers lead the league in average play-clock seconds remaining and 8th in total points (48.8).

Smith who had a rather quiet week last Sunday against the Cardinals playing in a game manager role (threw for under 200 yards and zero TD’s) has a more favourable matchup against the Chargers. On defence the Chargers favour man coverage playing that particular scheme at the third highest rate in the NFL and Smith has the best Total QBR (Quarterback Rating) of 89 against man coverage. The Chargers defence doesn’t look as daunting as expected at the start of the season and missing some important pieces Smith may progress back to his former performance levels.

Smith will certainly be looking for his two favourite targets Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf through the air with the pair having clocked up 423 and 406 yards respectively on throws from Smith this year. The Chargers are only playing moderate pass defence and both receivers looks set for sound performances once again.

On the ground ownership of the Seattle backfield looks to have quickly become the domain of rookie Kenneth Walker who received 21 carries last week and should be expecting a similar amount of work this week. Walker turned those carries into 97 yards and a TD and he’s blessed with plenty of speed for a running back having recorded 4.38 seconds for his 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. The Chargers have been susceptible to the run all year and I would be expecting another big game from Walker with Los Angeles giving up an average of 5.8 yards per carry.

One of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL resides in the Chargers ranks although Justin Herbert has had something of an ordinary time so far this year managing just one TD pass or fewer in three of his last four and two TDs or fewer in four straight. Like Smith Herbert may well face a “get right” spot here against a Seahawks defence that is allowing an average of 27.2 points per game, which is tied for 30th in the NFL. Herbert who will be making his 39th NFL start needs one touchdown pass to become the fourth player in NFL history with 80 pass touchdowns in his first 40 career games (Patrick Mahomes holds the record with 101 passing TD’s).

As much as Herbert is expected to make an impact on the game there is no doubt who is the other skill player who will be a big threat to the Seahawks defence and that’s running back Austin Ekeler. Like Herbert Ekeler was kept relatively quiet by a good Denver defence on Monday night but his previous game had shown how dangerous he can be as he reeled off 173 yards on the ground and a further 26 yards receiving to give him 199 all-purpose yards against the Browns. There’s no doubt that the Chargers want to get the ball to Ekeler in a variety of guises and it should be noted that he leads his position in receptions with 41 and he remains the most likely TD scorer for the Chargers.

The Chargers receiving corps has been a little depleted of late with WR Keenan Allen a major miss and he looks as though he will be a game-time decision for this game if he were to return. That means that Mike Williams should see plenty of targets although he’s likely to draw the attention of rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen who is making quite a name for himself. With Donald Parham missing at tight end due to concussion Gerald Everett will have that position all to himself and the Seahawks have allowed 50-plus yards to tight ends in four of their six games this year. Everett saw seven targets last week, meaning he has now had six-plus targets in four of his past five games.

There’s no doubt that this game has shootout potential especially when you consider the games that this pair have played this season when they are matched up with a non-divisional rival who wouldn’t know them as well as divisional rival. Both teams were involved in divisional low-scoring fiascos last week this figures to be something a little different.

ANDY RICHMOND


ANDY RICHMOND is a lifelong punter and sports enthusiast who now writes extensively on horse racing and the NFL. His CV includes long spells on Timeform Radio and Racing UK having previously held several positions at the then-fledgling Betfair Exchange where he worked for six years. He has a particular love for the statistical and analytical side of sports which fits in well with the NFL. He writes all the NFL content on Paul Jones subscription service as well as having his own betting advisory service.


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BACK Kenneth Walker III over +71.5 rushing yards 1.5pts at 10-11 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)

BACK Austin Ekeler over +55.5 rushing yards 1.5pts at 10-11 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)


PROFIT/LOSS (OCT 2022): LOSS -15.93 points
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