By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots are coming off of a convincing 31-21 home victory against the Denver Broncos. They are looking to continue some momentum this season as they are away this Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks at Century Link Field. Here’s a preview with my five keys to the game that I hope will lead to a Patriots victory.
WHERE TO WATCH: The game will be shown live Sunday on WBZ-TV at 4:05 PM EST. You can also listen to the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks are coming off of a 16-12 road victory against the Carolina Panthers. The home team is 3-2, and has been improving as the season has progressed.
On defense, this season statistically Seattle has one of the best defenses in the NFL, as they are second in the league holding opponents to 14 points per per game. They are also limiting teams to 258.6 yards per game, which is first in the NFL right now. This defense should be a huge challenge to the Patriots high powered offense.
The defensive line is excellent and has two players that can really get after the quarterback. Defensive end Chris Clemons already this season has 5.5 sacks, and also another intimidating defensive end is rookie Bruce Irvin has 4.5 sacks this season.
The secondary is led by two excellent cornerbacks, and they are Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman. These players are tall and physical which could pose a few problems to the Patriots wide receivers.
On offense, this unit is a work in progress, and is led by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. He does have a very good receiver to throw to on the outside, and that is Sidney Rice.
The biggest threat offensively for the Seahawks has to be running back Marshawn Lynch. The Seattle running back already has 508 yards this season, and does have the ability to take it to the house. The Patriots defense needs to contain Lynch on Sunday.
Any road game has its challenges and going to Seattle has a few. The crowd noise is immense, and they do have a very tough defense. However, the Seahawks offense I feel will have a tough time scoring points, and that is why I think the Patriots will return home to New England with a victory.
Here are my “five keys” which I believe could play a role in a potential victory for the Pats.
1. The Patriots need to run the ball on offense to set up the play action in the passing game. The Seahawks defense is third in the NFL in rush defense as they are only giving up 66.6 yards per game.
However, for me it is not really about the yardage for the Patriots against this defense. Running the ball with a decent amount of carries should open up the play action passing game, and that is where the Patriots could be really dangerous. It might be tough to run on Seattle, but for me it is necessary to try often, as it could help to open up the rest of the offense.
2. The Patriots offense needs to take advantage of the middle of the field in the passing game. The Seahawks have tall cornerbacks that should take away the “outside of the numbers” passing game.
That is fine because the Patriots should be able to work the middle of the field with Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski. I question the ability of Seattle’s linebackers and secondary to cover “in between” the numbers.
3. The defensive line need to push the pocket back and get their hands up. Wilson is a shorter quarterback who is under six feet tall. If players like Vince Wilfork can get a push on the offensive line, it could make it difficult for Wilson to actually see his receivers, and properly get the ball out.
4. The Patriots need to take away Seahawks tight end Zach Miller in the passing game. As in several games this season, the tight end is the security blanket for the quarterback. If the Patriots secondary can take away Miller, Wilson might really be in trouble converting third downs, and moving the chains.
5. The Patriots need to limit running back Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks running back is one of the best in the game right now. He is a power back that if he get through a hole, could have some long runs. The defense needs to force him to go sideways towards the outside and make the tackle.
Now, I do respect the defense of the Seahawks as they do provide some challenges for the Patriots offense. However, over the course of the game, I can see the Patriots wearing down this unit.
I also think the Patriots defense will have a big game against an inferior offense. If the Patriots can contain Lynch in the running game, and Miller in the passing game, the Seahawks should really struggle to score points.
With that said, I see the Patriots pulling away in the second half with a comfortable win. I am predicting a 28-17 victory for the Patriots against the Seahawks.
What are your predictions? Feel free to post them in the comments section below.
Also, please feel free to listen to a preview of the upcoming game from the radio show Patriots Fourth And Two.