The Cincinnati Bengals are off to their best start in a decade, holding onto an undefeated record and first place in the AFC North through the season's first four games.
The club owns the NFL's second-best offense, averaging 422.0 yards per game, and despite throwing just 116 passes - 28th-fewest in the League - quarterback Andy Dalton has found plenty of success throwing the football downfield. Cincinnati is averaging 10.2 yards per pass attempt (1st NFL), putting up 294.0 passing yards (5th NFL), and 30.3 points (4th NFL) per game, with Dalton's 123.0 passer rating second only to the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers.
Watching the club on film in recent weeks, Seattle's Earl Thomas has seen Dalton and Co. make life difficult for the opposing team's safety.
"They made it hard on the middle field safety, which is my position on the seam routes," Thomas said. "They have a lot of explosive weapons, so we have to be prepared where people are lining up."
Between Cincinnati's leading wide receiver A.J. Green, No. 2 wideout Mohammed Sanu, and tight end Tyler Eifert, Thomas said he expects the Bengals offense to continue looking for the deep ball this week, even against a Seattle secondary that has played particularly stout against the pass despite being just one of three teams without an interception to open the year.
"They're going to take shots," Thomas said. "We play cover three, I've got to eliminate what I've got to eliminate. It's going to be the same, but I understand what they're trying to do, and it's exciting for me. I get a chance to try to make a play. I thought I got a try to make a play last week, but you never know. They can change up the game plan."
Thomas said he'll need to use "cross-eyed" vision defending the deep middle of the field against the Bengals, shifting his sight between receivers, tight ends, and the quarterback at Paul Brown Stadium, where the 2-2 Seahawks are seen as underdogs this week.
"We're the underdog?" Thomas said. "I didn't know. Who said we were the underdog? I been in my house, I don't really listen to them."
Underdog or not, Thomas said he's looking forward to Cincinnati's style of play.
"I think that the thing that I get out of competition is being so confident in what I'm doing, that if I mess up, it's a great, great teacher for me to see if I can adjust my alignment or anything," Thomas said. "All you can do is go in and play confident and see what happens."
The Seahawks' games against the Bengals stretch from 1977 to 2011 and this gallery sends you back to each one. Check it out to prepare for their match this Sunday.