Preview and Pick for Denver at Seattle
Quarterback Russell Wilson leads the Denver Broncos into his old stomping grounds at Seattle’s Lumen Field Monday night for the kickoff of Monday Night Football against the Seahawks. Very few people would normally be excited about the Seahawks playing on MNF, but Wilson's return deserves the spotlight.
Can Seattle Exceed Expectations?
The Seahawks (+210) are the clear underdogs in the NFL season opener Monday night, and for good reason. Seattle was ultimately forced to deal its franchise quarterback to the Broncos in a swap that included five draft picks along with tight end Noah Fant.
That wasn't terrible for the Seahawks, and they're certainly in a good spot over the next few seasons. But, Do Not expect them to contend in the near future. Geno Smith is the quarterback, at least to start the season. That ought to provide an idea as to where expectations are in 2022 for Seattle. Smith threw for 256 yards, completing 59 percent of his passes, in the preseason.
"I think the one thing you will see him do better than Russell Wilson is the run-pass option game, the RPO game," analyst Brock Huard said of Smith. "Russell didn't like it. He would tell you that. Some people around him would tell you that."
While nobody is going to be fooled into thinking Smith can even be close to what Wilson was in Seattle, it’s his job to try and make them competitive. He still has Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf and second-year wideout Dee Eskridge at his disposal, so he could ultimately have a solid season as the starter. He will face some challenges, especially in Week 1 against a top-10 defense in the Broncos.
Bronco 'D' The Key
As highly anticipated as Wilson's debut is with the Broncos, and as much as he's in a good position to have a monster outing against his old team, it will be the Denver defense leading the way Monday night.
Denver's secondary is one of the best out there. Patrick Surtain Jr. should be able to handle Metcalf one-on-one, leaving other corners free to keep Lockett under control. Smith will likely have to use his legs to keep the Seahawks in the game (he had one rushing score in the preseason), but he'll almost certainly face pressure at every snap from the Bronco defensive line.
Denver is eighth-choice (+1600) to win the title, according to Super Bowl odds. Expectations are lofty in the Mile High city. It wouldn't have gone all-in on Wilson if that wasn't the case.
Denver also boasts one of the best, though perhaps underrated, group of receivers in the league in Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler. Tim Patrick, a breakout receiver last season, is unfortunately out this season after suffering an ACL injury. However, the Broncos’ depth should allow them to mitigate the loss here.
Broncos to Win Decisively
With other players worth monitoring and additional storylines in-play, it's Wilson's return to Seattle occupying all the attention. We don't expect Wilson to disappoint, either.
Through 10 seasons in Seattle, Wilson did rewrite the record books, and finished his tenure with 37,059 passing yards, 292 touchdowns and 23 rushing touchdowns. He hasn't experienced a drop in play (25 touchdowns, only six interceptions last season), but he has been overtaken in media chatter surrounding the best in the league at his position by the likes of Josh Allen, Justin Herbert and Lamar Jackson.
Wilson is acutely aware of this, wanting a change to not only play for a contender, but to expand a legacy. Monday will be an emotional affair for the nine-time Pro Bowler, but he'll certainly be ready to torch the opposing defense. Denver has the edge in just about all positional battles, and looked better in preseason.
There's no reason to get too cute with betting picks in the first week of the season. The Broncos (-250) are heavily favored in the moneyline and as 6½-point favorites (-115), as per NFL odds. There's no issue with the Broncos winning (and covering the spread) quite easily.