Seahawks RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England
The Seahawks running game has been stuck in neutral all season. They’re dealing with the loss of Marshawn Lynch who retired and Thomas Rawls who has been injured. Compounding things has been the injuries to Wilson who averaged 7.1 yards per carry in 2015 and is averaging less than two yards per carry. Seattle’s running game has averaged just 75.3 yards per game in 2016, about half of their production a year ago.
The Patriots have done a pretty good job of limiting their opponent’s running game in 2016. Foes are averaging just 101.6 yards per game although the Bills gashed them for a season-high 167 yards allowed two weeks ago. Alan Branch and Malcom Brown have done a good job of stuffing the initial push at the line of scrimmage allowing Dont’a Hightower and rookie Elandon Roberts to fly up and make plays.
With Wilson getting healthier every week, the Seahawks running game will improve each week. However, facing Christine Michael and C.J. Prosise this week, the Patriots should be able to slow down the running game enough to force the onus onto the passing game.
Seahawks WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge Seattle
The Seattle passing game exploded in the first half against the Bills with tight end Jimmy Graham catching two highlight reel touchdowns and Doug Baldwin chipping in with a 50-yard reception. The Hawks have Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Lockett as well, giving Wilson plenty of weapons to bring to bear. Their problem has been one of consistency. But now that Wilson is getting healthier, his ability to move in the pocket, a major plus is something to watch.
The Patriots have taken a patient, bend-but-don’t- break approach in the passing game, trying to keep everything in front of them and forcing teams to slowly pick their way down the field. Malcolm Butler has been very good in 2016 at one corner spot. At the opposite spot as well as the nickel or slot corner, the consistency needs improving.
The Patriots M.O. against mobile QBs is to sacrifice the pass rush to keep them contained in the pocket. Edge rushers Jabaal Sheard, Chris Long, Rob Ninkovich and Trey Flowers must walk a fine line between being too careful to contain Wilson and giving up too much time to throw.
I don’t see any of that changing this week, the keys for the Patriots will be getting 3rd down stops and not allowing Wilson to pick them apart a piece at a time. It will be interesting to see if the Patriots opt for CB Eric Rowe or S Devin McCourty to be placed on Graham. One additional factor is whether they decide to use any A-Gap blitzes with Hightower or Barkevious Mingo or opt to spy Wilson.
Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England
The Patriots special teams had an up-and-down first half of the season, but the good news was that K Stephen Gostkowski had a very solid game in Buffalo before the bye making both field goal attempts as well as all five extra points. Ryan Allen has been solid with a 41.0 net punting average. The kickoff coverage units have been outstanding this year. The return game got a boost with a 73-yard return from Danny Amendola in Buffalo. But when will Cyrus Jones make an impact in 2016?
Seattle has had some struggles on special teams. Steven Hauschka has missed two extra points and two chip shot field goals. Punter Jon Ryan has been solid, but their blocking has had problems. The Bills saw an issue with it and blocked a punt on Monday night. Their return game is only so-so but the coverage units have been excellent.
Next up, who wins and why…
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