Seahawks have established identity, will top Raiders

Since I strayed from the consensus and picked the Seahawks over the Raiders in our “Playbook” picks for Week 8, I wanted to offer a few more thoughts on the game.

I’ve seen the Seahawks transform during the last two weeks into a team with a solid identity, established through a solid running game and an aggressive defense. I’ve also witnessed the emergence on the scene of Mike Williams as a legitimate No. 1 receiving threat. The running game has developed a physical identity since adding Marshawn Lynch, and with a solid outside threat in Williams, it makes Matt Hasselbeck the best quarterback in the division. Those factors make Settle the best team in the NFC West.

The Raiders have done some impressive things in the last couple of weeks, and certainly putting up 59 points against the Broncos leads the list. If they can continue to run the ball, the Raiders already have one of the more athletic secondaries in the league, which makes it difficult for opponents to play from behind.

The Raiders are intriguing, but until they can get past the double-digit loss seasons like they have the last seven years, it’s going to be tough for me to jump on their bandwagon, particularly when the quarterback position seems so unsettled. I do believe, though, that if Jason Campbell is given the opportunity to settle into the offense, he does give the Raiders the best chance to win. He’s proven that he can play in this league, and he has the athleticism to make plays on his own. All he needs is a consistent supporting cast to be productive.

I think Darren McFadden and the Raiders run game will challenge the Seattle defense, but I believe the multiple nickel blitz packages of the Seahawks will create real problems for the Raiders in this game. The Raiders have a tough challenge this week. I like the Seahawks in this game, as they have a physical mentality right now. And the fact that it’s a road game for the Seahawks, but they can remain on the West Coast, is also a positive.

Plus, anytime Joe Theismann and Sterling Sharpe agree on anything, I like my chances.

— Brian Billick

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