When: Sunday, 1:05 p.m., Qwest Field
Records: Seahawks 5-5 and first in the NFC West; Chiefs 6-4 and first in the AFC West
TV: KIRO/7, with Bill Macatee and Rich Gannon
Radio: 97.3 FM and 710 ESPN, with Steve Raible, Warren Moon and Jen Mueller
Seahawks defense vs. Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones: Remember when the Seahawks’ run defense was ranked No. 2 in the NFL? That was after five games, when they were allowing an average of 70.4 yards. In the past five games, that has ballooned to an average of 140.4 yards. And here come the Chiefs, who are averaging 164.7 rushing yards to lead the league. Charles is averaging 6.1 yard per carry – tops among all NFL backs with at least 100 rushes – while compiling 848 rushing yards, including a 56-yard TD run. Jones has 644 rushing yards and is averaging 4.1 yard per carry, with a long run of 70 yards. They’ve also combined for seven rushing touchdowns and 35 receptions.
One to watch
The Seahawks in the red zone: Or should that be Red zone, since they’re playing the Chiefs? Regardless, the Seahawks definitely need to capitalize when they get near the goal line. In their past two games, they have had the ball inside the opposition’s 5-yard line eight times, but have five field goals and three touchdowns to show for it. For the season, they have 11 TDs and 16 field goals on 34 possessions inside the 20, a TD percentage of .324 that ranks next to last in the NFL. That’s a trend that can’t continue. The Chiefs, meanwhile, have allowed 18 TDs on 27 red-zone possessions, for a percentage of .667 that ranks 29th in the league.
Fun to watch
Seahawks DE Chris Clemons vs. Chiefs LT Branden Albert: Clemons leads the team with 7½ sacks, but he has just two in the past four games. The Seahawks need to get the Chiefs in passing situations by stopping the run and then pressuring QB Matt Cassel, who has thrown 18 TD passes and a league-low four interceptions. But three of his interceptions and 10 of his 15 sacks have come in the Chiefs’ five road games. That’s a trend that needs to continue, and Clemons taking his relentless game to Albert is a good place to start. Albert was limited in practice during the week because of a sore groin.
One tough task
The Chiefs on the road, and especially at Qwest. As successful as KC has been at home (5-0), they’ve been almost as unsuccessful on the road (1-4, with four consecutive losses). The Chiefs have not played in Seattle since 2002, when the Seahawks were having problems selling out their brand new stadium. But Cassel played at Qwest in 2008, while with the New England Patriots. That was after the resurgence of the 12th Man, which has helped generate a league-leading 101 false-start penalties at Qwest since 2005. “When you play there for the first time, it is unbelievable how loud it becomes,” Cassel said this week.
The Seahawks have forced 14 turnovers in their five wins and four in their five losses. … Leon Washington continues to lead the NFL in kickoff-return average (30.3 yards). … Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe has 11 TD catches, including one in each of the past six games – the longest streak in the NFL this season and longest in Chiefs history. He needs one more to tie a 48-year-old team record set by Chris Burford. … Jones is no stranger to Qwest. In the first regular-season game ever played at the stadium – then called Seahawks Stadium – he ran for 173 yards while playing with the Arizona Cardinals. That remains the second-highest yardage total of his 11-season career. … LB Derrick Johnson leads the Chiefs with 69 tackles, while four players have 52 to pace the Seahawks – LB David Hawthorne, SS Lawyer Milloy, MLB Lofa Tatupu and FS Earl Thomas. … Thomas also has five interceptions, which ties for third in the NFL and also matches the franchise record for a rookie. … LB Tamba Hali leads the Chiefs with eight sacks.
When: Sunday, 1:05 p.m., Qwest Field
Record: 6-4 and first in the AFC West after a 31-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday snapped a two-game losing streak
Where they rank: No. 10 on offense (1st rushing, 26th passing); No. 21 on defense (12th rushing, 25th passing)
Series: Chiefs lead 31-18, including a 35-28 victory at Arrowhead Stadium in the last meeting on Oct. 29, 2006
Star power: Dwayne Bowe. But he’s a wide receiver, and the Chiefs are a running team – as evidenced by their league-leading average of 164.7 rushing yards. True, and true. When the Chiefs do pass, however, Bowe is their most obvious option. He leads the league with 11 touchdown catches and is averaging 15.9 yards on his team-high 45 receptions. There’s also a historical slant to his impressive stats. Sunday, Bowe caught a TD pass in his sixth consecutive game, breaking the club record of five that he shared with Chris Burford (1962) and Otis Taylor (1966). Both receivers are in the Chiefs’ Hall of Fame. With one more TD reception, Bowe will tie Burford’s 48-year-old single-season club record.
Unsung hero: Matt Cassel. The Chiefs’ QB – and former backup to Tom Brady in New England, as well as Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart under Seahawks coach Pete Carroll at USC – isn’t this and he’s not that. At least that’s what Cassel has been hearing since arriving in KC last season. But what he has been this season is efficient. He has thrown only four interceptions in the Chiefs’ scheme that uses the run to setup more runs to then setup the pass. The Chiefs average 34 rushes compared to 29 passes. Only the Steelers (269), Titans (272) and Browns (290) have thrown the ball fewer times than the Chiefs (291). But Cassel also has 18 TD passes. The only QBs in the league with more? Philip Rivers (23), Drew Brees (22), Eli Manning (21), Peyton Manning (20), Tom Brady (19) and Aaron Rodgers (19). Not bad company at all.
On the spot: The Chiefs. Yes, they lead their division – the Seahawks’ old division – but their margin has been trimmed to a single game because they lost back-to-back games to the Raiders and Broncos before defeating the Cardinals. And, the Chargers (5-5) are leaning heavily on that suddenly slim lead. Also, the Chiefs have lost their past four road games and have just one win this season away from Arrowhead Stadium.
Burning question: What will the Chiefs’ 1-2 punch of Jamal Charles and Thomas Jones that comprises the league’s No. 1 rushing offense do against the Seahawks’ suddenly struggling run defense? Through their first five games, the Seahawks allowed an average of 70.4 rushing yards, but that has doubled in the past five games to 140.4. Charles has averaged 6.1 yards to compile his 848 yards, while Jones has 644 yards and a 4.1-yard average.
Familiar faces: Strength and conditioning coach Mike Clark held the same position with the Seahawks from 2004-09.
You don’t say: “Definitely we’re going to win it all. I can’t guarantee it, but I can tell you we’re going to win it all.” – Bowe, after Sunday’s win over the Cardinals