Russell Wilson will start his 11th NFL season in Seattle, but this time he enters the building as a member of the Denver Broncos after one of the biggest trades this year.
The Broncos are also a 6.5-point road favorite in the first game for rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett.
Wilson and head coach Pete Carroll live for the dramatic finishes, but will this game be that close in the final minutes?
Monday, September 12, 2022 – 08:15 PM EDT at Lumen Field
Wilson Brings Legitimacy to Broncos Offense
The Broncos have been a painful watch since 2016 with a quarterback carousel that has included the likes of:
- Trevor Siemian
- Paxton Lynch
- Brock Osweiler
- Case Keenum
- Joe Flacco
- Drew Lock
- Teddy Bridgewater
With Wilson, the team is adding a future Hall of Famer who had one of the best first 10 seasons to a career at his position in NFL history as a member of the Seahawks. Wilson is only going on 34, so he is younger than when the likes of Brett Favre went to Minnesota, or Peyton Manning to Denver, or Tom Brady to Tampa Bay.
This is not a get-rich-quick scheme on a super team as Wilson should be there for the long haul and possibly the rest of his career.
When Wilson looks at the Seattle defense, he isn’t going to see any of the stars that he played with. Most have been long gone, but the team also lost linebacker Bobby Wagner to the Rams this off-season. That means none of the 53 players on the 2014 Seattle Super Bowl roster are left.
Seattle’s Defense Needs Work
Seattle’s defense does not have the kind of pass rusher who can get after Wilson and make this a rough night. The Seahawks also are not a big blitzing defense, though we will see if anything changes after defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. was let go.
But Wilson still has a nice receiving corps with Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy expected to enjoy the best quarterback play they have seen in the NFL.
Jeudy has not lived up to his first-round pick status yet in two years, but look at the way Wilson thrived in Seattle. He threw accurate balls, especially deep, to guys like Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. Not first-round talents themselves, but they were great connections for Wilson.
I would expect him to develop the same feel with Jeudy, and if not, then Sutton is always there with more of a track record under his belt.
The team also has a very capable second-year running back in Javonte Williams, who just needs to see his share of carries. With Hackett coming over from Green Bay where he had Aaron Jones, it is hard not to imagine Williams not getting a lot of looks on all three downs for this offense.
Seahawks: Geno Smith Wins Brutal QB Competition
The Seahawks could have tried to nestle Jimmy Garoppolo from the 49ers to replace Wilson, but division trades are usually the hardest. They could have opted for Baker Mayfield, who would have a huge chip on his shoulder after the Deshaun Watson situation in Cleveland, and that seems like a good fit for Carroll too.
But no, we were left with a preseason quarterback competition of Geno Smith, a 2013 draft pick that never was, and Drew Lock, a throwaway pick in the Wilson trade from Denver. Lock might be able to beat Wilson in a battle rap competition, but he couldn’t beat out Geno for the starting job.
Smith only threw one interception in nearly 100 passes last year, but it is hard to see that holding up with his career problems of turning the ball over. He is a sack machine as well, and the Seahawks are not strong along the line.
Denver’s Defense: The Best in the Division
Denver’s defense was the best in the AFC West last year and it looks to stay that way this season. The secondary has some very promising players in second-year corner Patrick Surtain II and proven safety Justin Simmons.
If Bradley Chubb can stay healthy and get the pass rush going, Denver might be even better on defense this season.
The Seahawks don’t offer a ton offensively outside of DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, but the former disappointed last year, and the latter is really going to miss the precision of those Wilson rainbows down the field.
Seattle fans know best that this team played a lot of wild, unexpected games on Monday Night Football during the Wilson-Carroll era, starting with the Fail Mary against Green Bay in 2012. Out of 14 Monday night games for Seattle since 2012, 11 of them were decided by no more than seven points, and only four of them had more than 44 points scored.
But things are going to be different now with Wilson gone.
For as much as this game will talk about his impact this season, it does still feel like a lower-scoring game as he gets adjusted to his new team and due to the Seattle offense against Denver’s defense. That should help the under hit and help Seattle cover, but in the end, I still see the Broncos up by at least a touchdown in the end.
Since 2001, teams with a preseason win total of 5-to-5.5 wins (like Seattle) have a Week 1 record of 9-33-1 SU and 23-20 ATS. But they were only 6-9 ATS when facing a team that went on to win 10-plus games, which is what I expect Denver to do this year with Wilson.
NFL Pick: Broncos -6.5 (-110) at BetMGM
NFL Pick: Under 44.5 (-110) at BetMGM