NFL Preview - Seattle (6-3) at Kansas City (6-3)
By Michael Rushton, Contributing NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - There isn't much disputing that the Seattle Seahawks are one of the toughest teams to play on their home field.
That script has been flipped, though, when the Seahawks visit their former division rival in the Kansas City Chiefs.
Seattle hopes to pick up a rare victory in Kansas City this Sunday as the two 6-3 clubs aim to keep pace in their respective division in a clash at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Seahawks picked up their 21st victory in their past 23 home games last weekend, using a 21-point fourth quarter to rally past the New York Giants by a 38-17 margin.
Seattle ran for a franchise-record 350 yards, with Marshawn Lynch picked up 140 on 21 carries with a career-high four touchdown runs. Quarterback Russell Wilson joined him with 107 yards and a score on 14 carries as he threw for only 172 yards while getting picked off twice.
"I really liked the way we finished this football game in general," said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. "We came in at halftime down 17-14 and we just picked up and took off with it."
Seattle won its third straight game to remain in second place in the NFC West, two games back of the 8-1 Arizona Cardinals.
The reigning Super Bowl champions don't have an easy road in their quest to return to the postseason. The Seahawks' next six games are all against playoff contenders, including two meetings each with Arizona and San Francisco as well as this road test versus Kansas City and a trip to Philadelphia in early December.
That makes picking up a victory this Sunday key, but Seattle is just 5-20 at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs are 32-18 all-time versus the Seahawks, who used to be in the AFC West with Kansas City prior to re-alignment in 2002, and have not lost to Seattle since at home since 1999.
Following an 0-2 start to the season, head coach Andy Reid's Chiefs have won six of seven, including each of their last four games. They also rallied last weekend to pick up a win, overcoming a 10-point deficit to best the Buffalo Bills 17-13.
Running back Jamaal Charles and quarterback Alex Smith followed a similar mold to Seattle as both ran for touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Charles rushed for 98 yards on 15 carries, while Smith threw for 177 yards.
"There are games you're gonna have like this where everything is not pretty and you've got to play through it," said Kansas City head coach Andy Reid. "There's a certain toughness that it takes, not only to play in the National Football League, but to be able to come back from a deficit like that. Our guys showed that today."
Kansas City has outscored its opponents 79-22 in the fourth quarter this season and is game back of 7-2 Denver for first place in the division.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The ground game should factor heavily into this meeting, with both teams ranking in the top five to compliment a pair of passing attacks that are the bottom three in the league.
Seattle, in fact, is leading the NFL with 170.9 yards per game on the ground, while Kansas City is fifth at 135.8 YPG.
The Seahawks' 350 rushing yards last weekend for the most by a team since Cleveland had 351 versus Kansas City in 2009, and Lynch became the first Seahawks player to rush for four touchdowns in one game since Shaun Alexander against Houston on Oct. 16, 2005.
Lynch has six touchdowns in his past two games after having only three through his first seven and also hit the 100-yard mark for the first time since having 110 in Week 1 versus Green Bay.
"He's playing his best football," said Wilson of Lynch. "When we get our passing game going, it'll be really hard to stop us."
The Seahawks became the first team in NFL history to have a running back rush for at least four touchdowns and a quarterback to run for more than 100 yards in the same game.
Seattle's 350 yards were also the most allowed in a game since Kansas City ran for 352 yards against Indianapolis on Dec. 23, 2012. Charles had 226 of those yards on the ground.
Charles has eight touchdowns, two of those receiving, in his last six games and ran for 173 yards and a score the only other time he faced Seattle.
Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe led the Chiefs with eight catches for 93 yards, both season highs, last week and had 13 receptions for 170 yards and three scores when the Chiefs beat the Seahawks 42-24 in Seattle on Nov. 28, 2010.
"Dwayne is a tough matchup for people because of his size and strength so we thought we could utilize that (against the Bills)," said Reid. "They were playing man coverage, so we tried to take advantage of that. Alex had another good game, had a lot of tight throws and he was under some pressure. That's a good front. So he hung in there."
Bowe may be needed for more production in this game given that Seattle ranks fourth in the NFL against the run, yielding only 79.8 yards per game.
However, Seattle lost defensive tackle Brandon Mebane for the rest of the season due to a hamstring injury suffered versus the Giants. The 311-pounder had 20 tackles in nine games and helped clog lanes up the middle.
Carroll noted that Kevin Williams, a former Pro Bowler with Minnesota, will see a bigger role with Mebane out along with Tony McDaniel and Jordan Hill.
"All those guys are good football players," said Carroll. "They're all doing good stuff. Their makeup is a little different and their style. I mean there is nobody like Mebane. He's a very unique player. He's had, I think, the best season he's had since he's we've been here to this point -- most consistent, best factor so that's a big hit to take. But our guys that go in play good football too so we will expect them to play up and maintain the level."
Carroll's defense may also get safety Kam Chancellor and linebacker Malcolm Smith back this weekend after both were inactive versus the Giants due to groin injuries, while linebacker Bobby Wagner is close to returning from his toe issue.
Kansas City's strength on defense is its pass defending as the club leads the NFL with just 205.3 yards allowed through the air. The Chiefs are second in the league with 16.8 points allowed per game, and though they are giving up 115.6 YPG on the ground, they have yet to allow a rushing touchdown or a 300- yard passer.
Linebacker Justin Houston leads the NFL with 12 sacks, posting 10 of those and a forced fumble in the last seven games, while the Chiefs as a whole are third with 28 sacks.
"Yeah, he does a pretty good job. Glad he's on our team," Reid said of Houston.
The Chiefs have allowed just 12.4 points per game in their last four.
These clubs are hitting their stride after some earlier struggles, but neither are without flaws. Both have struggled to consistently move the ball through the air and have masked some scoring issues with great defensive efforts.
While Lynch against Charles is a great individual battle, the mobility of Wilson over Smith could be the tipping point.
Seattle has not historically traveled well to Kansas City, but it has yet to play at Arrowhead Stadium in the Russell Wilson era. As long as Wilson is safe with the ball, the Seahawks should be able to steal a big game on the road.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Seahawks 20, Chiefs 17
11/13 13:12:59 ET