NFL Week Six Preview: Patriots @ Seahawks
Last week the Patriots took care of business against familiar foe Peyton Manning and his new team by beating the Broncos 31-21. In that game the Patriots jumped in front with an early lead and led 31-7 with 4 minutes reaming in the 3rd quarter.
The Game was nowhere near as close the final score may have shown, and a lot of the win can be attributed to the defense which forced and recovered three fumbles. This week the Patriots (3-2) travel to Seattle to take on former Patriots head coach, Pete Carroll’s Seahawks (3-2).
Although the two teams have an identical record, the Patriots are in 1st place in the AFC East, as the Seahawks are tied for last in the NFC West, as San Francisco and Arizona are tied for 1st place with 4-1 records. Tom Brady has never played in Seattle, and he’s hoping to have success there in his first visit. Here are three keys to a Patriots Victory this week:
1.) The Patriots Offensive Line: The Patriots Offensive line thus far has been worrisome. In 5 games, teams have sacked Tom Brady 12 times. On the other end of the field, the Seahawks defense already has 16 sacks in 5 games. 5.5 of the Seattle’s sacks are from defensive end Chris Clemons. He’s given opposing quarterbacks a lot to fear this season. Clemons has 2.5 more sacks than the Patriots sack leader, Chandler Jones. The offensive line this week might also be in trouble if Sebastian Vollmer doesn’t play. Vollmer left the game against the Broncos early with a back injury and he was limited in practice this week. Without Vollmer it will be up to Dan Connolly and Marcus Cannon to make stops and allow Brady to make plays.
2.) New England Running Game: To say the Patriots running game has been surprising this year would be a HUGE understatement. Not one person predicted the running backs would be half as good as they have been so far. The key for the team though hasn’t just been one running back, it’s been all of them. Everyone now knows Stevan Ridley and the kind of damage he can do. But when you have other running backs like Brandon Bolden, and Danny Woodhead who, like Ridley are capable of making big plays, it’s very hard to stop the Patriots offense. Both Bolden and Ridley rushed for over 100 yards against Buffalo two weeks ago, and Ridley ran for another 151 yards with Bolden running for 54 against Denver. Along with Bolden and Ridley, Woodhead also made important plays in the game including converting a 3rd and 14 by rushing 25 yards from the Patriots own 11 yard line. Seattle could bring trouble for the running game as the Seahawks are 1st in the league in Yards Allowed Per Game with 258.6. If the Seattle defense can shut down the Patriots Rushing, all the pressure will be put on Tom Brady and his receivers.
3.) The 12th Man: Playing in Seattle is a little different than playing almost anywhere else. CenturyLink Field has been deemed the loudest stadium in the league and Deion Branch, a former Seahawk, admitted that Seattle has the loudest fans. The Seahawks have won both games they’ve played there, destroying the Dallas Cowboys 27-7 in week 2, and then they beat the Packers 14-12 in week 3. Although the week 3 victory comes with an asterisk thanks to the blow call by the replacement referees, playing in Seattle still cannot be taken lightly. The 12th man is something Seattle fans have adopted since the 1980’s. Tom Brady is no stranger to playing in hostile places. He played in the RCA Dome which was known as one of the loudest stadiums from 2003-2007 and he came out victorious multiple times.
The last time the Patriots played in Seattle was in 2008 when Tom Brady missed the season after getting injured in week 1. It’s the only place he’s never played, but with his experience he should be able to block out the noise of the fans. The Patriots record could easily be 4-1, or even 5-0 if it wasn’t for Gostkowski’s missed field goal in week 2, and for spotty officiating against the Ravens in week 3. On the other side, the Seahawks should be 2-3, and this week shouldn’t be too much of a problem for the Patriots if they can produce on offensive against the best defense in the league. My prediction: Patriots win 28-10