clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Seahawks vs Bengals Week 4 Player matchups to watch for

The Cincinnati Bengals and Seattle Seahawks clash Sunday afternoon at Paul Brown Stadium. In this big early-season battle, there are a number of important individual head-to-head player matchups and we run down the list of some of the top ones we'll be watching.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Bengals have shot off to one of their best starts in franchise history and the play of their roster has the eye of the nation. Some still are disbelievers in Cincinnati's 4-0 record because of past demons, but this appears to be one of the most balanced teams they have put on the field in some time.

While there are a few specific Bengals players we pegged as ones to watch, the Seahawks and Bengals game might come down to some individual player matchups. These head-to-heads could go a long way in determining the outcome of one of the biggest games in the league this Sunday.

Kam Chancellor versus Tyler Eifert:

The Seahawks were without Chancellor's services for the first two games, but he's made a difference since. In the two games he's been back, Seattle is 2-0 and has given up an average of just five points per game. If there's a guy who can actually size up to Efiert physically, it's the 6'3", 235-pound Chancellor.

In just four games this season, Eifert has amassed a career-high in touchdown receptions (three), and is the second-leading receiver in yards with 222. Proper usage and his health has been key to his success this year, and even though Earl Thomas will also be eyeing Eifert, Chancellor the enforcer will as well.

Giovani Bernard versus Bobby Wagner:

Most look at the game on Sunday and point to Jeremy Hill being the key for the Bengals' offense. There is definitely logic with the sentiment and when going up against the Seahawks defense, Wagner must always be accounted for. If he isn't, Wagner can make a mess of things for an opposing offense.

Bernard is out-rushing Hill by almost as many yards as Hill has on the entire season (297 to 163). As has been the case this young season, the Seahawks will undoubtedly key on Hill and try to make Andy Dalton beat them. While Dalton's proven to be able to do so in 2015, he's also been able to rely on Bernard and his 5.5 yards per carry for big plays. Bernard might also be a factor in the passing game, where Wagner might also be tasked in shadowing him,

Michael Johnson versus Russell Okung:

Though Johnson was the prized free agent get for the Bengals this offseason, he's been a supplemental player, statistically-speaking, on the Bengals' revamped defensive line. He had his first quarterback sack last week, even though his line mates have been nailing signal-callers through the first month of the season. Even though he hasn't lit up the stat column, Johnson has been an effective edge player in the form of quarterback hits/pressures and as a run-stopper.

Okung is one of the best tackles in football. However, two words keep him from being a household name: "when healthy". Kung has played in all four games this season and has really been the only effective offensive linemen for the Seahawks this season. Both guys are healthy, and with double teams likely to go to Carlos Dunlap and/or Geno Atkins, Johnson might need to win one-on-ones against Okung to make Russell Wilson uncomfortable.

Carlos Dunlap versus Russell Wilson:

If the Johnson-Okung matchup is one to watch from a pass-rushing standpoint, then Dunlap against Wilson is one from a different point of view. Most of what makes Wilson so deadly is his ability to scramble out of the pocket, find a passing lane and make a huge play. Other times, he uses his legs to move the sticks.

Dunlap leads the team with 3.5 sacks on the year, but the team might want to use his versatility to contain Wilson on Sunday, rather than outright pressure him. It's entirely possible that Johnson and/or Dunlap will flush out wide to keep Wilson in the pocket and force him to make throws from there, rather than the lanes he creates for himself outside of it.

Kevin Huber and Mike Nugent versus Tyler Lockett:

The Seahawks' rookie wide receiver out of Kansas State was a player a lot of Bengals fans wanted the team to draft this spring. While the Bengals' plan to stand pat with what they have on offense has paid off thus far, they have missed a bit of a spark on special teams.

Lockett has provided that sizzle for the Seahawks on special teams, to the tune of a punt and kickoff return for touchdown in the first four games. Kelly noted that teams have begun kicking away from Lockett in recent weeks after his big plays. Huber has had an outstanding season thus far for the Bengals, so he'll need to use his exceptional left leg to pin the Seahawks deep in their own territory. Nugent isn't known for having a huge leg and the weather should be cool after a possible Saturday rain, so he'll need some extra power in the kickoffs to neutralize Lockett there as well.