Here are five things to keep an eye on when the Seahawks take on the Bengals (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET).
1. Russell Wilson is getting rid of the football quicker than he ever has before. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Wilson is taking 2.58 seconds to throw this year. Before this season, that number was 2.91. As you might expect, he's also throwing shorter -- 6.6 yards on average, compared to 8.4 for his career. Watching Wilson, I've wondered how the Seahawks might look if they moved to even more of a quick, rhythm passing game. What if they just had Wilson operate from the shotgun, get rid of the ball quickly and pass even more? The offensive line would have an easier time pass-protecting, and Wilson has been accurate, completing 71.7 percent of his passes. If the run blocking doesn't improve, perhaps Seattle will move in this direction.
2. There was a lot of talk this week about whether the Seahawks would make changes to their personnel on the offensive line. But the truth is they don't have many options. According to Jimmy Halsell, only the Lions have fewer salary cap dollars allocated to the offensive line than the Seahawks. Wilson and Marshawn Lynch have been able to make up for those deficiencies in previous years. Whether they can do so again in 2015 likely will determine how far this team goes. One possible change this week is at center. Pete Carroll left the door open for Patrick Lewis to replace Drew Nowak. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Bengals rank 25th in pressure percentage (22 percent of dropbacks). But Carlos Dunlap (three and a half sacks) and Geno Atkins (three sacks) will present a challenge.
3. After the Bears game, free safety Earl Thomas said it was one of his most boring games, but also one of his best games. That's because Chicago didn't throw downfield, but he was on top of his assignments. Thomas figures to be challenged plenty this week. Andy Dalton's 20 completions of 20-plus yards are tied for most in the NFL. The Bengals have morphed into a downfield passing attack and have had a lot of success. The Seahawks pride themselves on not allowing big plays. They gave up 11 20-plus-yard completions the first two weeks, but only three the last two with Kam Chancellor back. Cary Williams has played well, but he's going to get tested plenty by A.J. Green and company.
4. The Seahawks are blitzing less under Kris Richard than they did last year with Dan Quinn. Per ESPN Stats & Information, Seattle is sending extra pressure 21.4 percent of the time, which ranks 26th in the league. Last year, it was 25.6 percent. But Richard has had a lot of success with his blitz calls the last two weeks. During that span, opponents are averaging just 4.63 yards per dropback, the second-lowest number in the league. Dalton, on the other hand, has been fantastic against the blitz. Opponents have sent extra pressure 39 times and sacked him only twice. He's averaging 10.67 yards per dropback against the blitz. Richard's blitzes against Dalton will be a key subplot to watch.
5. Leftovers: The Seahawks have yet to come up with an interception through four games. Dalton has been picked just once in 116 attempts. ... Tight end Tyler Eifert has been a weapon with 16 catches for 222 yards. He'll get matched up against Chancellor and the Seahawks linebackers. ... Giovani Bernad's 5.5 yards per carry are tops in the league among running backs with at least 40 carries. ... Opposing QBs are completing 69.5 percent of their passes against Cincinnati, the fourth-highest mark in the NFL.