Seahawks vs Colts: Week 1 NFL preview

The Indianapolis Colts host the Seattle Seahawks to kick off their respective 2021 NFL seasons in a matchup feating Russell Wilson and Carson Wentz.

Our Seahawks vs Colts preview examines Sunday’s game info, key matchups that will decide this game and delivers odds and predictions.

Click here to see where the Seahawks and Colts land in our Week 1 NFL power rankings

Seahawks vs Colts: What you need to know

Let’s examine the top matchups for Sunday’s Seahawks vs Colts game.

Russell Wilson vs Carson Wentz

Seahawks vs Colts, Carson Wentz
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) at the start of practice at Grand Park in Westfield on Thursday, July 29, 2021, on the second full day of workouts of this summer’s Colts training camp. Colts Camp Revs Up

Both of these teams experienced some quarterback drama this offseason. In Seattle, the Seahawks didn’t quite know if Wilson would commit to the franchise or not. He called out the front office, demanded changes and seemingly came close to landing in Chicago. Ultimately, he remains the Seahawks’ quarterback and that makes them a Super Bowl contender.

Click here for Sportsnaut’s Seattle Seahawks preview

Once Philip Rivers walked away, the Colts knew they needed to find their next signal-caller. Wentz always seemed like their desired fit and it didn’t take long for something to come together. But there were bumps, most notably foot surgery and a COVID-19 scare, along the way. In the end, he’s starting in Week 1.

  • Chef Wilson: We know what Wilson can do when he’s given time to throw. According to Pro Football Focus, he posted the third-highest passer rating (108), threw the third-most touchdowns (26) and had a 90.2 PFF rating when not blitzed last season. He is facing a Colts defense that blitzed just 17.1% of the time in 2020.
  • Rusty Wentz: Familiarity with Frank Reich’s scheme is great, but it takes a full preseason and training camp for a new quarterback to get comfortable with an offense. Wentz rarely saw the practice field this summer, losing valuable reps behind this offensive line and an opportunity to build chemistry with the receivers. Keep that in mind for Week 1.

Advantage: Russell Wilson

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Seahawks’ pass rush vs Colts’ offensive line

Seahawks vs Colts, Seattle Seahawks
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Under normal circumstances, the Indianapolis Colts arguably boasts one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. We could even see this squad reclaim its recognition later in the year, but we’re not at that point. Quenton Nelson is weeks removed from foot surgery and Ryan Kelly (elbow) missed time in camp. Far more concerning, the Colts are starting their third-string left tackle.

Check out our Indianapolis Colts season forecast

On the other side, Seattle’s pass rush is a big question. Carlos Dunlap didn’t look good in 2020, but he’s just a year removed from playing at an elite level. Darrell Taylor, the Seahawks’ 2020 second-round pick, has the potential to create some problems but this will also be his first NFL game. Ultimately, it might take an X-factor to swing this matchup.

  • Cracks Under Pressure: One thing became evident in 2020, pressure causes real problems for Wentz. According to PFF, he finished with an awful 48.6 passer rating and threw five interceptions when under duress last season. If Julie’n Davenport struggles, things could get ugly.
  • Unique Weapon: Jamal Adams isn’t a true safety, he can’t be trusted in coverage. But Seattle uses its 6-foot-1 missile to make life very challenging for opposing quarterbacks. Coming off a 9.5-sack season, expect Adams to take Wentz down at least once.

Advantage: Indianapolis Colts

Colts’ secondary vs Seahawks’ wide receivers

Seahawks vs Colts, DK Metcalf
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

One great thing about this Seahawks vs Colts matchup, wide receivers galore. We’re keeping a close eye on Michael Pittman Jr, who could be poised for a breakout season. But the popcorn is being saved for Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf against the Colts’ secondary.

Find out where the Colts and Seahawks start in our Week 1 NFL defense rankings

  • Go Deep: Outside of Tyreek Hill, there isn’t a better vertical threat than DK Metcalf. He finished with the third-most deep targets (31) in 2020, per Player Profiler and Wilson had a 110.7 passer rating when throwing to this 6-foot-3 force. The Colts’ safeties must be on alert.
  • No Shadow: Matt Eberflus is one of the NFL’s best defensive coordinators and his scheme delivers undeniable results. Under Eberflus, the Colts ran one of the most zone-heavy defenses in the NFL last year
  • Rhodes Open: Indianapolis will play Week 1 without top cornerback Xavier Rhodes. His absence makes the Colts’ secondary far weaker, creating a nightmare mismatch that Seattle’s receivers will exploit.

Advantage: Seattle Seahawks

The bottom line: It’s fair to say the Seahawks vs Colts game is flying under the radar. It’s not the marquee matchup on Sunday, but there is a lot at stake for both teams. Seattle needs a hot start with the NFC West set to be ridiculously competitive and Indianapolis must silence some critics entering the season.