The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will make history in Week 10 as they face the Seattle Seahawks in Munich at Allianz Arena for the first NFL regular-season game ever played in Germany. Buccaneer fans will tune in early on Sunday, November 13 as the game kicks off at 9:30 a.m. ET on NFL Network. The matchup will be the Bucs' fourth appearance in an International Series game, and the club's first outside of London. Tampa Bay will look to stack wins after a stunning game-winning drive against the Rams in Week Nine, placing them atop the NFC South in a tie with the Falcons at a 4-5 record. Meanwhile, Seattle is on a hot streak and will strive to continue their seating as the current NFC West crown jewel (6-3).
In a post-Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner era in Seattle, questions permeated in the spring as to whether the team that had become one of the most consistent in the NFL was leaning into a rebuild or could compete with a new man under center. Now entering the Week 10 matchup with a four-game winning streak, the answer is obvious. The sacrificial reload as many referenced in the offseason has led to a promising new dynasty for the Seahawks.
On offense, the Seahawks are loaded with a nucleus of talent at Offensive Coordinator Shane Waldron's disposal. Dual-threat quarterback Geno Smith is working the offense with precision and has been productive both inside the pocket and when extending plays using his legs on scrambles or designed rollouts. He has become a headache for defensive coordinators to contend with, along with receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, running back Kenneth Walker III and a trio of productive tight ends to open up play action. The success that the Seahawks have had running the ball has allowed the team to get Smith out of the pocket on bootlegs, in a similar way they employed the mobile Wilson. Seattle uses a variety of personnel groupings including multiple tight end sets and receiver bunch formations to keep defenses off-balance. Those formations provide extra blocking on running plays and restrict the opponent's coverage schemes, creating opportunities for Metcalf and Lockett downfield. Whether they employ Wildcat formations, flea-flickers, or go up-tempo, the Seahawks dial up trickery to try and create confusion for the defense.
Defensively, the vestiges of the Seahawks feared 'Legion of Boom' defense are gone; however, the group has re-focused as of late. After giving up 45 points to the Lions and 39 to the Saints in the beginning slate of games, the defense has since locked in. Against the Cardinals, the unit allowed 262 yards and dropped Kyler Murray five times. In a win over the Giants, the only touchdown allowed to New York was when the Giants took over on the five-yard line after a fumble. In the first meeting with the Cardinals, the Seattle defense did not allow a single touchdown and Arizona settled for three field goals. The catalysts include Uchenna Nwosu, who has a career-high seven sacks this season, rookie Coby Bryant who leads the league with five forced fumbles, and rookie Tariq Woolen who has amassed four interceptions. The unit has hit its stride in recent weeks, contributing to the team's overall success.
The Seahawks extended their win streak by sweeping the divisional rival Cardinals for the year with a 31-21 road win in Week Nine. Smith continued to command the offense with poise, completing 26 of 34 attempts for 275 yards and two touchdowns. He connected with seven different targets on Sunday, helping the unit convert seven straight third downs to seal the victory. Walker added another breakout game to his resumé in his first year, scoring a touchdown for the fifth consecutive game. He eclipsed the 100-yard rushing marker for the second time in 2022 with his ability to slip by defenders and he finished with two touchdowns on the day. Seattle dominated, registering 421 total offensive yards and 10 first downs, and they won time of possession (34:31). As the season has progressed, the Seattle defense continues to gel, evidenced by a five-sack performance on Murray. Offseason acquisition Nwosu surpassed his career-high five sack total with two on Sunday versus Murray, rising to seven on the season.
On this week's edition of the esteemed rundown of difference-makers featuring Seahawks' headliners, these five stand out. Many could have been in the compilation; however, this bunch could help swing the game in favor of Seattle on Sunday in Germany:
QB Geno Smith
The Seahawks traded Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos in the offseason for a heap of draft picks. After a competition with Drew Lock for the starter's spot, journeyman Geno Smith won the gig. As the centerpiece of the team's unexpected transformation in 2022, Smith has been decisive and accurate in Seattle's system. He is currently in the MVP conversation, leading the NFL in completion percentage (72.7), ranking third with a 107.2 efficiency rating and tying for fifth with 13 passing touchdowns. With field vision, the quick-strike ability to throw into tight windows and mobility, Smith has compiled a stellar campaign so far. His tumultuous career with the Jets is now a distant memory as his playmaking potential takes center stage for Seattle. Smith has great anticipation against the blitz, recognizing man coverage and taking off using his legs to extend drives. He generally keeps his eyes downfield but knows when to escape. If a defensive end crashes down, Smith will take advantage of the lane. The Buccaneers will have to be disciplined in their run fits and in setting the edge against one of the league's up-and-coming stars.
RB Kenneth Walker III
The Seahawks bolstered the offense via the draft by selecting running back Kenneth Walker III in the second round. Walker has been a starter since Week Six and has rushed for 570 yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry.. Walker is explosive on initial cuts in the backfield and his speed shows up in both space and in traffic. Walker can quickly change course with suddenness and can hit top speed nearly instantaneously. In addition, Walker possesses great lateral agility and capitalizes on open lanes when they appear. He can stretch the boundary and adjust his rushing angle with ease. Walker has become a focal point of the Seahawks' offense, adding to the team's talent-filled nucleus. The Bucs' run defense currently ranks 23rd in the league, giving up an average of 125.2 rushing yards a game. Todd Bowles' unit will need a stellar outing on Sunday in Germany with effective pursuit and control of gaps to try and limit big runs.
WR Tyler Lockett
Tyler Lockett leads the Seahawks in receptions (51), receiving yards (598) and is tied with DK Metcalf for the team-high in receiving touchdowns (four). With three-straight 1,000-yard seasons, Lockett has been a significant contributor in Seattle's aerial attack. Lockett has become Smith's go-to target downfield in 2022 and plays bigger than his 5'9 size would indicate. The All-Pro has established himself as one of the NFL's elite at the skill position, and the Seahawks leverage his ability with frequent pre-snap motions to draw eyes. The fluid route-runner consistently gains separation with suddenness out of breaks. Lockett is productive on intermediate routes and can stretch the field vertically with speed. He is proficient with double moves and has twitch at the top of routes to create cushion. Lockett is a cerebral-minded player and the Buccaneers' defensive backs will have to account for him on every snap.
CB Tariq Woolen
Tariq Woolen is tied for second in the league with four interceptions, solidifying Seattle's secondary. The first-year player is quickly becoming a household name for his sensational play. Woolen recorded a blazing 4.26 40-yard dash time at the 2022 NFL Combine, garnering attention. Ultimately, he was regarded as a raw prospect, but Seattle got a diamond in the rough with their No. 153 pick overall in April. Woolen has a knack for getting his hands on the football, including two fumble recoveries in addition to his interception count. He has allowed a sub-40 passer rating and is already in the conversation for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Woolen is a long, press-man corner that can manipulate routes with a coveted size/length/speed combination. With rare leaping ability, he is able to extend to prevent completions. Woolen has the traits to carry vertical routes and possesses smooth hips in transitions from his initial pedal. He has been a ball magnet and a player the Bucs will need to circle during preparation for the Seahawks.
ILB Jordyn Brooks
Jordyn Brooks ranks first in the NFL with 90 tackles through the first nine games of the NFL season. In 2021, Brooks broke the franchise single-season record with a whopping 184 tackles, surpassing Bobby Wagner's previous standard of 167. He has quick diagnosis skills to key in on runs and is adept at sliding under blocks. The hard-hitting machine commands the middle of the field and has fortified the Seahawks' defense. With superb instincts, Brooks can anticipate lane choice by rushers and has the lateral speed to outpace rushers to the perimeter. He plays with impressive downhill speed and has showcased the ability to shed blockers at the point of attack. Brooks has quickly developed into one of the NFL's top-tier linebackers and is one the Bucs must contend with.
OLB Uchenna Nwosu
Uchenna Nwosu leads the Seahawks in sacks with 7.0, making a return of investment. The Seahawks snagged an under-the-radar free agency pickup during the offseason, acquiring Nwosu from the Chargers and it has paid dividends. Nwosu has now become one of the league's most efficient pass rushers. During his first three seasons with the Chargers, Nwosu was a reserve player in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley's 4-3 scheme, but when Brandon Staley became the head coach last season and switched to a 3-4, Nwosu saw his playing time increase as an outside linebacker in Staley's scheme, starting 15 of 17 games played while recording career highs in sacks (5.0) tackles (40), tackles for loss (8) and quarterback hits (17). With the Seahawks shifting to more 3-4 concepts under new Defensive Coordinator Clint Hurtt, Nwosu saw an opportunity in Seattle. Through nine games in 2022, Nwosu leads the NFL in total pressures, is seventh in quarterback hits, is tied for sixth in sacks, is tied for 11th in tackles for loss and has two forced fumbles and a recovery. Nwosu possesses start-stop quickness to put himself in position to make a play. He has good burst and plays with a relentless motor. Nwosu fits the prototypical 3-4 outside linebacker mold and has fortified Seattle's defense.
Here are some ways in which the Seahawks have excelled in 2022:
- The Seahawks lead the NFL with forced fumbles. The team has acquired 16 through just nine games, with four courtesy of rookie Coby Bryant. Seattle is on pace to have the most forced fumbles under Pete Carroll in a single season (19).
- Seattle ranks fourth in scoring in the NFL with 26.8 points per game. With a balanced approach, the Seahawks have imposed their will with a laundry list of talent at every position.
Negative factors hindering the outcome of games for the Seahawks in 2022, most notable:
- Opponents have found success against Seattle on the ground. The Seahawks rank 27th in the league in rush defense, allowing on average of 138.7 yards on the ground. Focusing on stripping the ball can often distract from the core fundamentals that lead to success.
- Seattle has shot themselves in the foot with penalties in 2022. The Seahawks rank 31st in the league in penalties called against with 74, and 66 accepted for a loss of 562 yards – only Denver fares worse.
New Faces in 2022
The blockbuster deal that sent Russell Wilson to Denver gave the Seahawks a new starting tight end in Noah Fant and an interior defensive lineman in Shelby Harris. Before the trade, the Seahawks did not have a draft pick until number 41 overall in the second round, but they picked up the ninth and 40th selections in the exchange, thus adding vital pieces in the first two days of the 2022 NFL Draft. That includes what amounted to a new pair of starting offensive tackles in Mississippi State's Charles Cross (9th overall) and Washington State's Abraham Lucas (72nd). In between those moves, Seattle landed edge rusher Boye Mafe of Minnesota and running back Kenneth Walker III of Michigan State with consecutive picks in the fourth round – both of whom have made an immediate impact in starting roles.
The Seahawks were not overly busy on the free agent market, but they did give a mid-level two-year deal to linebacker Uchenna Nwosu, who has been the tone setter of Clint Hurtt's defense. The proficient pass rusher has boosted the unit, contributing to the team's recent win-streak.