The New England Patriots will travel to Seattle, Washington to take on the Seattle Seahawks at 4:05 p.m. ET in CenturyLink Field. A crowd of 67,000 will be on tap to watch two 3-2 teams going at it, and this is a game that the New England Patriots cannot afford to sleep on. It’s going to be a close game that could get ugly with a 90% chance of rain. The ‘Hawks will want to impose their tough defense and take it to the ground with Marshawn Lynch.
You can watch the game on CBS in the northeast, in the Dallas/Austin area, in the northwest, in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Alaska, and Hawaii. Those living in Boston can also tune in to Channel 4 and watch Ian Eagle and legendary QB Dan Fouts calling the game. Fans in the area can listen in to 98.5, and Larry Kahn and John Robinson will be calling the game on a national audience via radio on Sports USA.
The New England Patriots will be without Tracy White, Steve Gregory, Julian Edelman, and Dont’a Hightower today. However, Aaron Hernandez will most likely be able to play but will be in a limited role.
Patriots Pass Offense vs. Seahawks Pass Defense
The New England Patriots passing attack is going to have a tough time against Seattle, because the ‘Hawks have a great cornerback trio in second-year stars Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman on the outside and veteran Marcus Trufant in the slot. Browner and Sherman are two big corners who fit Pete Carroll’s scheme, and Sherman was an underrated breakout player as a rookie in 2011. Meanwhile, Browner shed his inconsistent play and has blossomed into a top corner in his own right this season.
Sherman, who shut down Steve Smith last week, will likely be charged with containing deep threat Brandon Lloyd. The offseason acquisition has been quite the past two games thanks to great coverage from veteran lockdown CB Champ Bailey and emerging rookie Stephen Gilmore. He will need to be at his best today against the 6’3″ Sherman, especially since the Seahawks will try to force Tom Brady to throw it outside to Lloyd instead of beating them inside with Wes Welker.
The conditions in this game will likely be poor for passing, especially throwing it deep. Trufant has been excellent this season in the slot, but Welker is a different kind of animal and has been one of the best receivers in the league this year. In fact, he has probably been one of the best five wideouts in the league (at least top ten). this year. The ‘Hawks will likely respond by having Kam Chancellor roaming the area and playing physical with Welker in order to help out Trufant.
The Patriots offensive line has been great this season, but Chris Clemson and Bruce Irvin will cause problems for the OLs. Irvin has been a revelation as a rookie pass rusher and has even been a better pass rusher than Chandler Jones this season. Clemons has been one of the best pass rushers in the league for the past two years now. Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer has played great this season and suffered his only let down of the year against an insanely good Von Miller last week. Meanwhile, left tackle Nate Solder has been locking it down and played great against Elvis Dumervil last week. The battle between the DEs and tackles is going to be terrific to watch.
Patriots Run Offense vs. Seahawks Run Defense
The Seattle Seahawks might have the best run defense in the NFL, with a defensive line that includes the likes of Red Bryant, Alan Branch, and Brandon Mebane. Those are three of the best run-stopping DLs in the NFL, and the trio of linebackers are also formidable. Rookie Bobby Wagner is one of the most underrated players in the game, and Leroy Hill and K.J. Wright will also make life difficult for the Pats offensive line.
Ryan Wendell has been excellent as a run blocker so far this season, but he also had a poor game against the Broncos last week. Stevan Ridley has been one of the best five running backs in the league this season, but he’s going to have an extremely difficult time replicating his success these past two weeks.
Watch to see how many carries Brandon Bolden gets, because Bill Belichick is frustrated with Ridley’s fumbling issues after putting the ball on the ground once in each of the past two games. I hope he doesn’t cut Ridley’s role for this reason, but Bolden should receive more carries in order to try and pound Seattle’s defense. Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead could also have some carries sprinkled in, but the Pats won’t make the same mistake twice after giving Woodhead far too many carries against a stout Baltimore Ravens run D in Week 3.
Continue Reading to see my final prediction and thoughts on the Patriots defense and Seahawks offense.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.