The Washington Football Team is looking to extend its win streak with a Week 12 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football. Here are four things you need to know about the upcoming opponent.
1. Tyler Lockett stands out on a struggling offense.
The Seahawks have been with and without Russell Wilson at various points of the season, but the results have been the same either way: the offense has looked constipated throughout the year, averaging a third-worst 298.6 yards per game.
However, former Pro Bowler and First Team All-Pro Tyler Lockett has been a star on a struggling unit.
Lockett, who posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2019 and 2020, is on his way to pulling off the hat trick with 717 yards on 47 catches. He has four 100-yard games, including 115 yards on just four receptions against the Arizona Cardinals.
Lockett has 13 catches that have resulted in gains of at least 20 yard, which is tied for eighth in the league. That's certainly a cause for concern, although Washington has played better against the pass since the bye week. Lockett will be another measuring stick to see how much Washington's secondary has improved.
2. Seattle has struggled to protect its quarterbacks.
There's no one culprit for Seattle's offensive struggles, but its inability to protect Wilson and backup Geno Smith is certainly a factor.
The Seahawks have given up 33 sacks this season, which ranks 30th in the NFL. Their 23-13 loss to the Cardinals is the most-recent example of their struggles to maintain a clean pocket. Wilson was sacked four times as he finished with just 207 yards and a 22.7 QBR. Smith, who started under center while Wilson recovered from a finger injury, was sacked 14 times in four games.
Washington's pass rush has taken a hit with Chase Young and Montez Sweat sidelined, although it still has a solid interior anchored by Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. Allen's pass-rushing acumen has been taken to another level in what could be a Pro Bowl-caliber season, while Payne helped supply the pressure that secured a game-sealing sack on Cam Newton during Washington's win over the Carolina Panthers.
Seattle's offensive issues shouldn't distract from the fact that Wilson is still one of the best quarterbacks playing today, so it will be important for Washington to keep consistent pressure on the quarterback and prevent him from getting in a rhythm.
3. Plenty of opportunities on offense.
It should be refreshing for Washington to face off against Seattle's defense. It doesn't have a stingy secondary like the Panthers or a stifling front seven like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Seahawks allow 401 yard per game, the second-most in the league, meaning there could be plenty of opportunities to rack up yardage.
Taylor Heinicke, who has been one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the NFL since the bye week, has already shown that he can make the right throws against top tier defenses. He threw four touchdowns and no interceptions against the Buccaneers and Panthers. His 462 yards in that span don't pop off the box score, but they were enough to propel Washington to wins.
Washington has also been establishing a consistent ground game as of late, led by an offensive line that is first in run-block win rate, according to ESPN. It amassed 190 yards against the Panthers, fueled heavily by 95 yards from Antonio Gibson.
Washington has out-gained all four of its previous opponents. Should it maintain that same consistency, it could repeat the feat once again.
4. Stiff competition on third downs.
While Seattle has generally allowed offenses to put together drives on a regular basis, its defense has excelled on third downs. It ranks ninth with a conversion rate of just 37.3%.
It should be a challenge for a Washington offense that seems to have figured out how to stay on the field since the bye week. The team was one of the worst after its loss to the Denver Broncos, but since then it has completed 53% of its third downs. Over the last three games, Washington is sixth in conversion rate.
Washington has risen to the challenge so far. Its newfound third down success has been one of the main reasons why it put together scoring drives on 11 of its past 19 drives. Having another strong outing on primetime will be a chance for Washington how far its come.