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The final two weeks of the 2023 NFL regular season are set to potentially answer some final questions regarding the NFL Playoffs. There are going to be games that will make or break some team’s chances for the postseason. Going into this Sunday’s matchups, only three teams from the AFC and four teams from the NFC have clinched a spot in the playoffs. This is going to be a great opportunity for NFL fans and bettors to make bets to potentially win some significant earnings through DraftKings.
Both the AFC and the NFC wildcard spots are going to be a race to the finish. There are several teams still in the running for the wild card spots in both conferences. Among the two, there were specific conferences: the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7) from the AFC and the Seattle Seahawks (8-7) from the NFC. On Sunday, these two teams will meet in Seattle and try to boost their chances of getting into the playoffs. The loser takes a huge step back to potentially being unable to control their destiny in the last week of the season next week.
Turmoil was rising high for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second half of the season. After the Steelers accounted for an overall record of 6-3 after week 10, they would win only one of the next five games. This Steelers team experienced horrible offensive play due to the inefficient coaching of offensive coordinator Matt Canada and the injuries that keep positions such as quarterback. The season seemed to be a loss for the Steelers and their playoff chances until they shocked the Cincinnati Bengals at home last Saturday with a 34-11 win. A win over the Seahawks would help make the Steelers the potential third team to go to the playoffs from the AFC North division.
Things were looking well for the Seattle Seahawks after their Week 10 win as well. The Seahawks had accounted for an overall record of 6-3 after the Week 10 comeback over the Washington commanders. Seattle, however, would fall into a four-game losing streak with a brutal schedule. Among the losses were a heartbreaking one-point loss to the Los Angeles Rams, a close loss on the road against the Dallas Cowboys and two brutal losses to their rivals in the San Francisco 49ers. Seattle will get back in the NFC playoff mix with two consecutive game-winning drives at home on Monday football against the Philadelphia Eagles and on the road versus the Tennessee Titans last week. Seattle could be one of three teams from the NFC West to make it into the NFC playoffs this season.
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My biggest difference maker of the game between the Seahawks and Steelers is Seattle quarterback Geno Smith. In his first game back and then starting lineup after missing the previous two games due to injury, Smith refers two touchdowns in the 20-17 win over the Tennessee Titans. In the tough loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Smith was highly efficient and explosive as he threw for three touchdowns.
The Seahawks are facing the Steelers defense, which has deteriorated over the past few weeks of the season. Pittsburgh is ranked 21st in the league in passing yards allowed per game (230.7) as well as given up 21 touchdowns to the passing game out of 29 total offensive touchdowns allowed this season.
The Seahawks defense has been up and down between their productivity to defend the passing game. Among the biggest concerns is defending against the short passing game when it comes to bigger and more established players like Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth.
He is averaging 24.3 receiving yards per game, but he has a chance to get some more against this Seahawks defense. Look for him to account for huge gains and multiple first downs as a result of an aging linebacker core of Seattle.
In his 13 games played this season, Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III has been an efficient and dynamic player. When given the ball multiple times, he has a chance to excel, but the offensive line has failed to give him some great looks as the season has continued.
Walker said he played eight games this season where he attempted at least 16 carries in a game. Due to injuries, Walker has had three of the last seven games where he has been given 16 carries, while rookie running back Zach Charbonnet has been given splitting efficient reps as well.
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What - Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks
Where - Lumen Field, Seattle, Washington
When - Sunday, December 31, 4:05 PM E.T.
How to Watch - FOX, NFL Network, YouTube TV
Michael Hanich is a sports journalist/analyst with a wide variety of experience in the newspaper and digital field. He has a love for all sports. The leagues that he covers are College Football, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, College Basketball (men’s and women’s), the MLB, Lacrosse, Volleyball, and the WNBA.More info on Michael Hanich
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