The regular season marks the culmination of an extensive investigation into who your team will be that year. By this point, you’ve gone through free agency, the draft, training camp, and the preseason. You feel good in your decisions insofar as you can create clarity without having played meaningful games. But there are still plenty of uncertainties that remain, whether at the start of the regular season or the end, and new ones continually develop over time.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Ben Roethlisberger will attempt fewer than 30 passes today.
Explanation: Since the 2014 season, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has averaged more than 38 pass attempts per game. Aside from the first Browns game last year, it had been years since he attempted as few pass attempts—just 25—as he did last week, when they had an effective running game. If they run successfully tonight, it may result in fewer dropbacks for the old man.
The Seattle Seahawks’ defense is not good. They have among the worst rushing defenses, in particular, in the league. While the Denver Broncos’ run defense was overrated if you dig into the numbers, it should still be true that if they could run on them, they could run on this Seahawks team.
The offensive line and running back Najee Harris are just getting into rhythm and are now picking up steam. They also know that they have the bye week coming just around the corner, and want to wrap up this first stretch of the regular season on a high note, so they’ll certainly be looking to churn out yardage on the ground.
Meanwhile, the passing game will be adjusting to not having JuJu Smith-Schuster out there, which will take some time to figure out, and will encourage them to take the air out of the ball.
Ben Roethlisberger only has about two games per season in which he attempts fewer than 30 passes, and the odds of them coming in back-to-back weeks are pretty low. The odds of the running game suddenly churning out 100-yard performances on a weekly basis is equally unlikely.
Plain and simply, they are going to have to put the ball in the air. They may be playing against a backup quarterback, but Geno Smith knows how to run this Seahawks system, and he has some really good talent to throw to that will make the plays for him, like D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.