The Patriots impressed a lot of people last week as their no huddle offense dominated Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 31-21. New England brought a great balance of run and pass to the game and their defense came up with a big fumble late in the 4th quarter as the Broncos were coming back. The Pats find themselves back in sole possession of first place in the AFC East and seem to have everything in order offensively. This week, however, is going to be a tough test.
On Sunday, the Patriots will head to Seattle to take on the 3-2 Seattle Seahawks. Seattle has one of the best home field advantages in football with the 12th man crowd. The Patriots went up there four years ago, but it was without Tom Brady at quarterback. Seattle is starting a rookie quarterback in Russell Wilson, but the strength of their team comes from Marshawn Lynch at running back and a young defense that knows how to attack the quarterback under former Patriots’ head coach Pete Carroll.
Here are my keys to the game on Sunday at CenturyLink Field:
Take Out the Lynch Pin: The central support for this Seattle Seahawks’ team is Marshawn Lynch. The running back who loves to eat Skittles on the sideline has run for 508 yards and 2 touchdowns so far this season. To win this game, the Seahawks have to win the battle of time of possession. If they can keep Tom Brady on the sidelines and disrupt his rhythm, they can win this thing. In five games, Lynch only has 2 100+ yard rushing games this year. However, it is his ability to make third downs manageable for the rookie quarterback and keep the defense from rushing the passer.
A Golden Catch?: The Seattle wide receiving corps is not the greatest. In fact, they are more known for who they got rid of (Braylon Edwards and Terrell Owens) then who is actually on the roster now. The one receiver who has the most notoriety this year is the former Notre Dame wide receiver Golden Tate. Tate has three touchdowns in his last three games, which includes the touchception to end the game against the Green Bay Packers. Tate could be who Russell Wilson looks to in a big spot on a 3rd down or a pass down the field. Let’s just hope if Devin McCourty gets an interception, it is actually called an interception.
The Seattle Sack Machine: Pete Carroll’s defense has made a habit this season of pressuring opposing quarterbacks. They had a game this year against the Green Bay Packers where they sacked Aaron Rodgers 9 times!! With the Patriots having a banged up offensive line, the Seahawks will definitely have their chances for some sacks. Two guys to keep an eye on are defensive end Chris Clemons (5.5 sacks) and rookie 1st round pick Bruce Irvin. Irvin has succeeded in his role as a pass rusher with 4.5 sacks so far on the year.
Communication is going to be key in this game for the Patriots’ offensive line. That is where the no huddle offense with the one word play calls is going to come in handy. If the Patriots did not have Stevan Ridley or Brandon Bolden running the ball the way they have, I would take Seattle in this game. However, the balance and the ability for Belichick to confuse Russell Wilson on defense will be the reason why I take New England to survive a tough road test.
PATRIOTS 24 SEAHAWKS 16