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Film Room: Previewing the Bengals vs. Seahawks

Although the faces have changed, the Seahawks still provide a great challenge for the Bengals.

Cleveland Browns v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

It can be tough to game plan for the first game of the season.

Preseason games may show some indication of what the team is going to be, but it is largely guesswork. Fortunately, the Seahawks return their head coach and coordinators, so the Bengals have a distinct advantage. Here is everything you should know about the Seahawks.

The Seahawks want to run the ball.

Chris Carson is the primary running back. He is quick and has excellent vision. The Bengals will need to be sound in their gap assignments to prevent Carson from racking up big yards.

The clip below shows what happens when Carson finds a seam. The run started out wide, but as he saw that the guard was getting overtaken, Carson cut back for a 13-yard gain.

The Seahawks took another running back, Rashaad Penny, in the first round of last year’s draft. He has good size and excellent speed, but does not seem to see the running lane as well as Carson. Despite his athletic ability, his carries do not tend to produce as many yards and Carson’s carries do.

Here Penny cuts back on the zone play and is able to take it up field for a nice gain.

Although the Seahawks are a run-first team, they go as Russell Wilson goes. One of the big changes this year is the loss of wide receiver Doug Baldwin. Tyler Lockett will take the lead at the position and be joined by DK Metcalf when he gets healthy.

Lockett is one of the most underrated receivers in the NFL and will need to be accounted for, Wilson is best when he is on the move, particularly avoiding the pass rush and finding his receiver downfield.

Wilson and Lockett hookup for a nice gain on this boot play. On the move and with a linebacker closing in, Wilson throws a bullet between 4 defenders for the first down.

For years, Seattle has been known for great defense and that has not changed. Frank Clark and longtime star Earl Thomas may be gone, but new stars are emerging.

On the defensive line they brought in Ziggy Ansah and Jadeveon Clowney. Both create substantial problems for opposing offenses, although I wouldn’t expect to see much of Clowney this week.

At linebacker they have Bobby Wagner, who is incredible, especially against the pass. The secondary includes Shaquill Griffin and an emerging star in Tre Flowers.

This clip shows how good this defense is against the run. Notice how the defensive line penetrates and the 2 off-the-ball linebackers fill. The running back has no where to go. He tries to cut back, but Mychal Kendricks is right there to take him down.

In the big picture of things, the Seahawks haven’t changed much since their Super Bowl win. They still want to run the ball, but it is no longer Marshawn Lynch doing it. They still play very good defense, but Thomas, Richard Sherman, and Kam Chancellor have been replaced with new models.

Wilson and Pete Carroll remain as does the team’s general philosophy of how they want to win football games. This team will challenge the Bengals, but could be a favorable matchup for the Bengals defense.

The Bengals’ linebackers are better at stopping the run than the pass and running the ball is what Seattle wants to do. The Bengals defensive line should matchup well against the Seahawks offensive line and the Bengals defensive backs should have the advantage in the pass game. Carson catching balls out of the backfield should, however be a concern as this would require a linebacker to make a play in the open field.

The Seahawks defense is going to be tough for the Bengals to compete with. They have a very good secondary and perhaps the league’s best linebacker in Wagner.

The most concerning matchup is the Seahawks defensive line against the Bengals offensive line. This game will provide an early answer to the question of whether or not that unit is good enough to make this team competitive.