Tag Archives: Jermaine Kearse

Patriots Week 12 Report Card, Pats Down Jets 27-13

Steve Balestrieri
November 26, 2018 at 5:51 pm ET

The Patriots came off the bye and despite a very uneven first half where they should have been up by two scores but were tied at 10, dominated the second half for the win. And while they let the Jets, losers of four in a row hang around for the first half, they leaned on the running game and outscored Gang Green 17-3 after halftime to secure a 27-13 victory and move into the #2 seed for the time being in the AFC a game behind Kansas City.

The defense also played much better and more aggressively in the second half holding the Jets to just a field goal. Ryan Allen on Special Teams was outstanding, never allowing dangerous return man Andre Roberts a clear path to return the ball.

So, check out our grades and see how the team fared in this week’s close win.

Quarterback: B

Tom Brady, it should be noted was not spectacular but he was very good, attacking downfield, spreading the ball around and was extremely efficient, averaging 9.1 yards per pass play. Brady finished 20-31 for 283 yards with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions for a QB rating of 115.4. Which were all of the things he didn’t do well in Tennessee two weeks ago.

Eight different Patriots receivers caught passes as the offense rolled up nearly 500 yards with a great amount of balance between the passing and running games.

He had a few bad throws in the first half, but he also had some really nice heaves downfield. His 34-yard touchdown pass to Gronkowski was a beautiful arc and put it right in the bucket. But his best was arguably on the Pats final scoring drive. Facing a 3rd and 10 at the Jets 47, Brady lasered a deep out pattern to where only Josh Gordon could catch it for a gain of 17 yards.

Brady targeted his top five receivers on the day 21 times and completed 16  passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns. That is very economical and again…efficient.

Running Backs: A

Sunday was the Sony Michel show, Michel had 133 yards on 21 carries and lost about 45-50 more because of penalties behind the play. He averaged 6.3 yards per carry and scored on a one-yard touchdown. He also caught two passes for 12 yards. He displayed excellent vision and ran behind his blockers but knowing when to cut back against the grain and a very nice burst once he got into the open field.

James White added in 72 yards on 9 carries on the ground on a day where he caught just one pass. Normally he and Brady are in lockstep but Sunday, in the passing game they were out of sorts a bit. Brady targeted White 5 times but they connected only once for just five yards. Cordarrelle Patterson stepped in when Michel was shaken up for a bit and added a couple of key first downs.

Wide Receivers: B

The wide receivers were all involved efficient, and productive on Sunday. Julian Edelman was the most productive catching four passes for 84 yards. He jumped started the offense on the Pats opening drive beating Morris Claiborne at the line and catching a 36-yard pass. He was outstanding. His 3rd down reception in the second half was a terrific play worked perfectly in sync with Brady.

Josh Gordon had five catches for 70 yards and while it may not have been a huge numbers day for him, his game, like everyone else’s was very efficient. The communication with he and Brady is improving every week and Sunday was more proof of that.

Chris Hogan was targeted twice and had two catches for 47 yards. Phillip Dorsett chipped in with a pair of catches.

Tight Ends: B

Rob Gronkowski was back in the fold and was looking like his normal self in the passing game as well as in the running game where the big man is like a road grader. He caught just three passes for 56 yards but one of them was a 34-yard score in the first quarter for the team’s first touchdown.

He and Brady didn’t connect later on several red-zone attempts but as we’ve said here many times, there are rules for covering receivers downfield in the NFL and then a set for Gronkowski. He’s been tugged, held and been the victim of helmet-to-helmet contact and not given a flag more than any other player we know.

Offensive Line: A-

The offensive line was outstanding on Sunday, as they had the entire group back in the fold and it was obvious, especially in the running game. While Brady was never sacked, the Jets had some pressure in the first half but they solved those issues with some halftime adjustments. The biggest, however, was the commitment to the running game. The team made a concerted effort to run the ball in the second half and they did just that.

When your team rushes for over 200 yards and your backs average over six yards per pop, your offensive linemen are a happy group because it means that they’re being physical and aggressive up front.  

The only issue it seemed, and it was team-wide was penalties. Shawn Hochuli’s crew is known as a flag-happy bunch and the Pats OL had four that we saw, Trent Brown twice, Joe Thuney and David Andrews.

Defensive Line: C+

The defensive line had a kind of Jekyll and Hyde day. In the first half, they stuffed the Jets running backs, allowing just 16 yards. But the pass rush was non-existent and Josh McCown had all day to throw the ball.

In the second half, the defense picked up with the pass rush but the Jets ran the ball much more effectively and ended up rushing for 74 yards on 15 carries. The yardage is nothing to worry about but the 4.9-yard average is a bit concerning. While a chunk of that was McCown scrambling, it also leads to containment issues.

Trey Flowers stood out once again with a sack and four QB hits. Deatrich Wise also had a sack and 3 QB hits. But consistent pressure is and has been an issue for this team all season.

Linebackers: B-

The Patriots linebackers had a solid game with Kyle Van Noy being the standout player from the group. He did a terrific job setting the edge and stuffing a runner for a loss and when he blitzed he knocked down one pass and on another crunched McCown with a thunderous hit.

Dont’a Hightower was solid in the running game but got caught in pass coverage and was in chase mode and appeared to be plodding.

Elandon Roberts had his usual mixed bag. He made a couple of nice run stuffs and like every week, a play where he totally whiffed. He overran Isiah Crowell on a screen dump off and it turned into a 19-yard pass play. Overall, the play of the linebackers was solid and they helped hold the Jets offense to just three points after the break.

Secondary: B-

The secondary had a rough start but in the end, McCown averaged just 6.1 yards per pass attempt and scored just 13 points. He finished with a QB rating of just 73.9 which they’ll take every time. Stephon Gilmore and Devin McCourty each had big bounce-back games. Gilmore was back to his being his shutdown self on Sunday. He had two passes defensed and a nice interception where he got body position and hauled in a deep pass from McCown at the Patriots two-yard line.

Jonathan Jones was getting picked on underneath in the slot and was burned once too often and was benched for J.C. Jackson. Jason McCourty got torched by Jermaine Kearse for 41-yards but Gilmore intercepted the next play. McCourty got a bit of revenge, however, knocking away a 4th down pass in the end zone on the Jets’ garbage time drive with a minute to go.

McCourty, Pat Chung, Duron Harmon, and Obi Melifonwu (in a limited role) were part of the reason the Jets scored just 13 points. But covering tight ends remains an issue for this team. Although most of the passes were in front of them, it is something that needs tightening up.

Special Teams: A-

The Special Teams had a nice game and was led by Ryan Allen who was simply outstanding in this one. Allen averaged 46.0 yards per punt but he angled them to the sideline where they either bounced harmlessly out of bounds or gave the dangerous Andre Roberts nowhere to run. He had one punt return for one yard. That was an area that we wrote we were concerned about and Allen was terrific.

Stephen Gostkowski was perfect on his three extra points and two field goals. The coverage units allowed one big return to Roberts for 35 yards but held the other one to just 17 on kickoffs. The return game netted zero on the day as the Jets boomed the ball out of the end zone to Patterson and had solid coverage on Edelman.

Coaches: B+

The Patriots coaching staff had a very good game plan coming into this one, and although the performance was sloppy in the first half, they made very good adjustments at halftime and dominated the final 30 minutes, outscoring the Jets 17-3.

The playcalling of Josh McDaniels remains confusing at times, especially in the red zone. They are intent on targeting James White and Gronk inside the 20, so maybe it is time to mix things up some by calling other players’ numbers to give opposing defenses something else to think about. But on a day where the offense rolls up nearly 500 yards? You can’t fault them too much.

Defensively, Brian Flores saw that things weren’t working in the first half and got more aggressive in the final two quarters. They really brought some pressure finally on McCown and the results spoke for themselves. While we’re not going to get too excited because they’re the Jets offense, like Bill Belichick said, the Jets always play them tough, especially in the Meadowlands.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news.

Patriots – Jets Part II Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge

Steve Balestrieri
December 29, 2017 at 10:28 am ET

The New England Patriots finish off the 2017 regular season by taking on the New York Jets in Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium.

The teams have moved in different directions since the last time the teams met in Week 6. Both entered that game at 3-2 and since, the Patriots are 9-1 and are in line for the AFC’s top seed. The Jets are 2-8 since that matchup and are left looking for answers.

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS on Sunday, December 31 at 1:00 p.m. ET and can be seen on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Jim Nantz will handle play-by-play duties with Tony Romo as the color analyst. Tracy Wolfson will work from the sidelines... The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (12-3) took care of business last week by defeating the Buffalo Bills 37-16. Dion Lewis rushed for a career-high 129 yards as the Patriots ground out nearly 200 yards on the ground. The defense held the Bills to just three field goals.

The Jets (5-10) lost to the Los Angeles Chargers 14-7 as they limp to the season’s finish line but still are playing hard for coach Todd Bowles. They’ve been in all of their games this season and looking to the future.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2016 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:

The Patriots and Jets are meeting for the 118th time. The Patriots hold a 62-54-1 edge overall. The Patriots are 33-25-1 all-time at home against the Jets. The Patriots have won the last three matchups and the past two wins by Gang Green have been in overtime. One of which was in 2015 with the famous “pushing rule” game which cost the Patriots home field advantage in the playoffs but wait, the Pats get all the calls right?

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Jets Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots running game has been steadily getting better as the season goes along and Dion Lewis has emerged as the Pats go-to back. Last week against the Bills, they were missing Rex Burkhead and James White, but Lewis and Mike Gillislee gashed the Buffalo defense for nearly 200 yards.

The Jets, like the Patriots, have had issues stopping the run and have allowed 116 yards per game. In the first matchup this season, New England ran for 125 yards. The key matchups will be how effective the Pats offensive line is at getting to the second level against a good linebacking core.

Lewis will be the main back again, however, with Burkhead on the shelf, Gillislee has missed practice time with a knee injury. If he’s unable to go, we may see more of Brandon Bolden this week.

Patriots WRs vs Jets Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game is still missing a ton of key players with Chris Hogan, White, and Burkhead out. But the good news is Malcolm Mitchell is back and is slated to play some this weekend. He’ll no doubt have some rust issues but his return is very good news for the passing offense. Matching up with Rob Gronkowski has to be the Jets priority on Sunday. I’d expect to see him doubled this week.

The Jets have done a good job of defending the pass this year allowing just 237 yards per game. They’ve only had two teams pass for 300 yards or more against them this year. Their improved secondary begins with the two rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye who have come in and played much better than anyone could have hoped this early in their careers.Their biggest weakness remains, rushing the QB and if they give Brady time, he should have a big day.

Gronkowski had a big game with two touchdowns in the last matchup and the Jets will have to find a way to slow down the big man. It will be up to the other players on the offense to make them pay if they decide to double Gronk. Brandin Cooks will have to step up this week and make the Jets force coverage toward him.

Next up the Jets offense:

Jets RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New York

The Jets have a very good running back in Bilal Powell and he is coming off a big game last week (145 yards) against the Chargers. Look for the Jets to test the edge of the Patriots defense which has been leaky for much of the season. Powell missed the first game and has usually played well against the Patriots.

The Patriots run defense has had major issues this season defending the run especially on the edge and they’ll be short inside with Alan Branch still out injured. But there are a couple of silver linings this week. Malcom Brown played arguably his best game of the season last week against the Bills and the Patriots just picked up James Harrison. The Steelers all-time sack leader is closer to the end of the road than the beginning but I think he’ll be looked to primarily help with setting the edge here. If he can do that, then his time here regardless of his pass rush ability, will be a success.
We don’t know how much he’ll play this week, but they’ll be a lot of eyes on him and we’ll be focusing on the running game first.  

Jets WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England

Josh McCown is out for the season and the Jets now have Bryce Petty under center. He has some good weapons in the passing game, Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse outside, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Powell out of the backfield. The problem has been protection this season. Jets QBs have been sacked 43 times in 2017.

The Patriots pass defense has been light years better since the first Jets matchup where McCown threw for 350+ yards. The secondary didn’t have a good week against Buffalo last week and will be looking to enter the postseason on a high note.

Look for Matt Patricia to be a bit more aggressive this week with Petty under center than McCown. We’ll see some safety or corner blitzes and some A-Gap pressure as well.

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots’ Special Teams are among the best in the NFL, they excel in punt and kick coverage and continuously turn in big plays.

The Jets STs units are a step below the Patriots and don’t have the edge anywhere here. But they showed last week that they’ll be aggressive, starting off the Chargers game with a successful onside kick. Expect them to empty the tank this week.

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

This key here from a Patriots perspective is getting off to a fast start. Game time temps are slated to be 10-15 degrees with a wind chill below zero. The Jets, although they’ve played hard all year are playing for nothing but pride. If New England gets off to a quick start, they may just want to fold up tents and get home to watch the ball drop in Times Square.

Turnovers are key here as well. The Jets don’t have a prolific scoring offense so ball control and not turning it over is key here.They can’t give the Jets any short fields and any momentum to pull off the upset.

Look for the Brady and the offense to keep it varied, mixing in the pass and run equally and the defense to get a couple of sacks as well as a turnover of their own…or two.  Pats finish the regular season 13-3. Patriots 34-13

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots – Jets Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
October 13, 2017 at 8:00 am ET

The Patriots head back out on the road to meet their old familiar rival, the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon in the Meadowlands.

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS on Sunday, October 15 at 1:00 p.m. ET and can be seen on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Fouts as the color analyst. Evan Washburn will work from the sidelines... The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (3-2) got back on the winning track by downing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Thursday night 19-14.Stephen Gostkowski booted four field goals and Tom Brady threw the only touchdown of the game for the Pats to Chris Hogan.

The Jets (3-2) beat the Cleveland Browns 17-14 for their third win in a row. Many people were thinking this Jets team wouldn’t  win one game and now in Week 6, they are playing at home with a chance to take over the division lead.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2016 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:

The Patriots and Jets are meeting for the 117th time. The Patriots hold a 61-54-1 edge overall. The Patriots are 28-29 all-time on the road against the Jets, including 4-3 at MetLife Stadium. The Patriots swept the season series a year ago and in the last meeting at the end of the season, the Patriots blasted the Jets 41-3 at Gillette Stadium.The Patriots have also won their last ten road games dating back to last season.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Jets Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots running game has been disappointing so far this season. Whether it is the offensive line or the running backs that are underperforming, perhaps a combination of both, they aren’t helping the passing offense. The Patriots average just 99 yards per game. Mike Gillislee leads the team with 246 yards and four touchdowns but his yards per carry (3.6) like that of the team (3.87) is not where the team needs it to be.

The Jets run defense has struggled mightily so far this season. Gang Green has allowed an average of 143 yards per game. The Jets are the 29th ranked team against the run in terms of yards per game and 27th in rushing yards per attempt.

This may be a time for the Patriots to establish something of a consistent running game. They gave Dion Lewis some more reps last week and he responded with a solid game. Gillislee also had a decent game as well last week. The Jets may go to a lighter defense to stop the Patriots passing game and this would be the time to assert the push up front and get the running game going, not to mention not allow an opponent to pin their ears back and coming after the quarterback.

Patriots WRs vs Jets Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game has been clicking despite the amount of pressure that Tom Brady has been under and the number of times he’s been hit and sacked. It is capable of being even more explosive if Brady gets decent time to throw the ball. Having the running game improve would be a big boost. Brady has plenty of productive targets in the passing game, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski should return this week as well as Phillip Dorsett, with James White and Dion Lewis out of the backfield.

The Jets revamped their secondary this season and started it with two rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye who have come in as rookies and played much better than anyone could have hoped this early in their careers. They have two good corners in Buster Skrine and Morris Claiborne but they’ll face a much more potent passing game than they’ve seen thus far. One issue has been the lack of sacks, the team has just seven so far in 2017. Neither Leonard Williams or Muhammad Wilkerson have a sack yet this season.

Gronkowski will present the rookies in the middle with a big matchup to watch on Sunday. But the Patriots have enough other weapons to force the issue with the Jets defense. With time Brady has proven he can pick apart anyone, even without a ton of time this season he’s lighting it up. Look for him to have another big day.

Next up the Jets offense:

Jets RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New York

The Jets have good running backs in Bilal Powell and Matt Forte but both of them are banged up and it isn’t known if they’ll play or how much on Sunday. But if they can’t go, the onus will fall to youngster Elijah McGuire who is a capable backup. The Jets running game looked excellent a few weeks ago against Jacksonville running for over 250 yards but then fizzled last week against the Browns, gaining only 39 yards on the ground.

The Patriots run defense has been porous at times this season. With Alan Branch underperforming and riding the pine, they’ve been susceptible to runs up the middle. Ditto for having Dont’a Hightower missing time and then playing on the edge. They seemed to make some adjustments last week against Tampa Bay. They moved Hightower back in the middle on early downs and it helped. Now if they can get Branch back on the field and performing, it would be a bonus. Paging David Harris?

The Patriots game plan will probably be to slow or stop the run and force the ball into McCown’s hands since he doesn’t have a deep group of playmakers. How well they do that slowing of the run will be an intriguing part of the game.

Jets WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England

Josh McCown is playing better than anyone expected this season. He’s completing about 71 percent of his passes although for just 1020 yards with five scores and four interceptions. Jermaine Kearse, Jeremy Kerley, and Robbie Anderson are the wideouts with Austin Seferian Jenkins is the tight end and he’s having a good season thus far. Like the Patriots, the Jets have given up a lot of pressure, McCown has been sacked 15 times on the season.

The Patriots pass defense may have turned the corner a bit last week. Through three quarters playing strictly man coverage, they allowed just 110 yards. Look for more man coverage with Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore this week. Jenkins will be McCown’s safety valve and a tough matchup. He’s already got the production that the Jets tight ends got all of last year. Kearse has seamlessly integrated into the offense and came up big with a 24-yard touchdown to seal the win against the Browns. We’ll see if the Patriots pass rush can get home more this week. The consistency hasn’t been there and this may be a good time to get it going.

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski made all four field goal attempts last week and is 12-12 on the season. I never worry about him on field goal attempts only with extra points…is that strange? Ryan Allen hasn’t been the same this season. He’s been inconsistent and needs to re-find his comfort level out there. Danny Amendola gave the return unit with a shot in the arm with a big 40-yard return. But the STs units committed four penalties in the game. Not good.

The Jets counter with Chandler Catanzaro at kicker, who booted a 57-yarder last week and Lac Edwards at punter. But overall the Jets have been inconsistent on special teams this season.

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

This one will pit old rivals who get renew unpleasantries with one another. There is never any love lost between the two teams or the franchises. Here is where we normally throw in the caveat that you can throw out their records since it is a divisional matchup but both teams come in with identical 3-2 records.

I think it is imperative for the Patriots to get off to a good start this week. The crowd at MetLife Stadium will be loud at the start of this one. No one expected the Jets to be where they are right now. So, they’ll be loose and fired up. They’re basically playing with house money. The best way for the Pats to quiet the crowd is to get some distance quickly and get the crowd to sit on their hands. Turnovers will be key also. The Jets offense hasn’t been especially prolific so to make them match the New England offense score for score will be a difficult proposition. Not giving them any momentum or short fields with turnovers is important. On the flip side getting a turnover or two would be a big boost to a Patriots offense that has been moving the ball and scoring very well but hasn’t reached its optimum peak yet.

This one will be close for awhile but the New England offense will put pressure on the Jets to keep up. A second-half turnover will open the door for Brady and the offense to break it open late. Brady and Gronkowski lead the way to a road win.  Patriots 34-13

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

ICYMI: Tom Brady Responds To Instagram Post With A Funny Comment

Robert Alvarez
February 9, 2017 at 12:54 pm ET

After the New England Patriots finished off their 25 point comeback against the Atlanta Falcons for the Super Bowl championship, an Instagram user (name withheld due to expletive) posted a screenshot picture to his account of Brady catching the eye of FOX TV cameras when he appeared to be putting his head down in despair following throwing an interception for a touchdown just before halftime.

“I need to know what prayer Brady said so I can use it later on in life” was the caption chosen by and to his surprise a day later, Brady responded with a funny but real comment that brought back memories of a darker time in his career.

“Hey so remember that whole David Tyree thing from a few years ago..”, Brady jokes was the prayer.

The last four Super Bowl’s Brady has played in he has had to endure a plethora of ridiculous circus catches.

Both David Tyree (Super Bowl XLII) and Mario Manningham (Super Bowl XLVI) wild receptions led to championships for the Giants, but Jermaine Kearse’s (Super Bowl XLIX) and Julio Jones’ (Super Bowl LI) the Patriots were able to overcome.

Of course, Julian Edelman may have beaten them all.

Patriots – Seahawks Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
November 11, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

The New England Patriots return home to take on the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Night Football. This will be a rematch of sorts of the 2014 Super Bowl. The game has big implications for both teams in their individual conferences and although it is only Week 10, those are already coming into play.

The game will be televised by NBC and can be seen locally on WHDH Channel 7 in Boston. Al Michaels will handle play-by-play duties with Cris Collinsworth as the color analyst. Michele Tafoya will work the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Cappello.

The Patriots (7-1) came off their bye week in good shape leading the AFC with the best record and allowing the second least average amount of points in the NFL. Tom Brady is as sharp as a razor right now and Julian Edelman and Martellus Bennett used the bye week to get healthy. Dion Lewis can be activated at any time now and will be another big boost to the offense.

The Seahawks (5-2-1) beat the Buffalo Bills 31-25 on Monday Night Football. Russell Wilson had a fantastic first half leading four touchdown drives and the defense made a key stop at crunch time in the final moments of the game to seal it away.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2016 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:
The Patriots and Seahawks meet for the 18th time on Sunday. The Patriots have a slim 9-8 advantage all-time against Seattle although the Seahawks hold the edge (5-4) in games played in New England.

The last time these two teams met was arguably one of the best Super Bowls ever played. Tom Brady led the Patriots back from a 10-point, 4th quarter deficit to take a 28-24 lead with just a couple of minutes to go. Russell Wilson then took the Hawks to the Patriots one-yard line with under a minute to go. But Malcolm Butler intercepted Wilson’s pass in the end zone to seal away the victory.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots Defense Is Changing, But Not Against Wilson

Steve Balestrieri
November 10, 2016 at 6:26 am ET

Now that the election hysteria has subsided for the moment, it is time to get back to football. Just about a week ago, the Patriots traded linebacker Jamie Collins to the Cleveland Browns and now the unit will be forced to undergo some changes. But if you’re like many fans and expecting them to be more aggressive on defense, those changes aren’t coming, at least not this week.

The most immediate focus on Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is how they play on replacing Collins in the defense and number two is, how to breathe some life in what has been a moribund pass rush.

First, what’s the plan on replacing Collins? As we’ve now been already aware, the Patriots had planned on making Collins a part-time player and already against Buffalo, they replaced him on early downs by rookie linebacker Elandon Roberts. Roberts is a smaller player at 6’0, and 235 pounds but doesn’t play that way. He’s a downhill, physical player with a great burst.

“He’s a missile, man,” Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower said earlier in an interview. “He’s a torpedo. He’s a hammer.”

While he’s definitely a force against the run as his play against All-Pro tackle Joe Thomas in the Cleveland game will attest, he’s not as comfortable in his coverage role. The Patriots know that they’ll have to live with his learning that aspect of his craft on the job. But for third downs or obvious passing downs, there will be some tinkering to do.

The obvious choice would be to use Barkevious Mingo, who, not possessing the strength or the size of Collins, is at least as close as one can get in the athletic department. Recent addition Kyle Van Noy and Shea McClellin, as well as Rob Ninkovich, may get some looks there.

Hightower remains the key member of the unit, he can do it all. The Pats signal caller on defense is a big, physical run-stuffer inside and can bring great pressure on the A-gap blitzes up the middle. They can also shift him to the outside and force plays out on the edge where he had some experience as an outside edge rusher while at Alabama. Expect them to tinker with different combinations to find the right mix.

Which brings us to the pass rush, if you are expecting them to get more aggressive this week, think again. Although Russell Wilson has been banged up and still doesn’t have the normal burst and quickness that we’ve seen out of him in the past, he’s quickly getting there. Watching the Buffalo game showed that he’s almost got his mobility back.

And if there’s one thing that Bill Belichick will preach this week, it will be containment. This has been the Patriots M.O. when facing mobile quarterbacks, they’re willing to sacrifice pass rush pressure to keep the quarterback in the pocket. That is especially important to a team that likes to play man-to-man coverage like the Patriots do.

With defensive backs trying to stay plastered to a wide receiver down the field, if a quarterback escapes the pocket and begins to run, their job then becomes much more difficult. Invariably once a QB breaks containment or a would-be sack, someone becomes wide open down the field.

The problem becomes one of time. How long can you expect the secondary to hold their coverage before someone breaks open? And with a QB like Wilson, he’s much better suited for hitting plays from the pocket than a player like the Pats faced two weeks ago in Tyrod Taylor.

With the Seattle running game mired in neutral this season and averaging just about 81 yards per game, those problems running center around the health of Wilson who has averaged much more yardage rushing in the past. The Patriots may opt to keep a spy on Wilson and get after him a bit more, but history has shown that they’ll try to contain him on the edge and slowly force the pocket closed.

With Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and tight end Jimmy Graham, Wilson has plenty of options to stretch the field and if he begins to make plays with his feet, they can easily break off a big play down the field. He hit Baldwin on a 50-yarder on Monday night against the Bills.

The Patriots don’t want to see that; their focus is on denying the big plays down the field and they have been very good at preventing those. They’ve only allowed one 40+ yard pass play this season.

So on Sunday night, expect to see much of what we’ve seen before when facing QBs like Wilson. They’ll be in the containment mode and try to squeeze the pocket. If there is some pressure, look for it up the middle in trying to force Wilson into getting rid of the ball quickly. As always, that can be a dangerous proposition against the mobile Seattle QB.

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Patriots Lay Back Wisely on Day 1 of Free Agency

Steve Balestrieri
March 10, 2016 at 7:30 am ET

There was a flurry of activity on the first day of the NFL’s Free Agency period as teams rushed to sign the first batch of free agents to some huge contracts. The Patriots kicked the tires reportedly on several players available, but decided and wisely so, to sit back and let the overspending flurry play itself out. It is a familiar tactic they’ve used for several years.

The Patriots made very little noise in the opening hours, just re-signing a backup swing tackle, LaAdrian Waddle and a backup linebacker/special teams’ player Ramon Humber from the New Orleans Saints.

The team was supposedly in on negotiations with WR Marvin Jones, RB Matt Forte, WR Rishard Matthews who all ended up signing with other teams. Jones signed with the Lions in an attempt to be a #1A or #1B type receiver for Detroit now that Calvin Johnson has retired.

Forte was widely linked to New England since the end of 2015 but signed with the Jets who lost Chris Ivory and appears to be set to lose Bilal Powell as well. Matthews, the former Dolphin WR who was deemed a good fit for the Patriots agreed to a deal with the Titans last night.

The other WR linked to New England, Mohamed Sanu, another player who would fit the skill set, size and speed need for the Pats offense is visiting Atlanta today and reportedly will then come to Foxboro next. With the Falcons rumored to be ponying up in the neighborhood of $7 million dollars per year, that would knock the Pats right out of contention.

What’s in store for Day 2: The Patriots traditionally have made their moves on the second day of free agency after the initial frenzy of over-priced contracts dies down. Last year, they signed DE Jabaal Sheard on Day 2 and at the time, that generated little buzz on the NFL timeline but paid big dividends for the team.

Two years ago on Day 2 is when the entire Darrelle Revis deal fell to the team after they lost Aqib Talib on the opening day of free agency. So while fans were clamoring for something…anything to be done by the team, look for them to be more active today.

Who’s still out there? There is plenty of talent left in the pool and for the Patriots needs at running back, Powell is still in the mix as well as Alfred Morris, Arian Foster and RFAs Benny Cunningham, Khiry Robinson and C.J. Anderson of the Broncos. Of course, there’s still LaGarrette Blount who made it clear earlier this week he’s open to and very willing to return for a final season in Foxboro.

Wide receivers still on the market include Sanu, although it is doubtful he leaves Atlanta without a contract. Jermaine Kearse, Anquan Boldin, Rueben Randle, James Jones, Percy Harvin as well as recently released Jeremy Kerley and Mike Wallace may interest New England.

For tight ends, the pickings are a bit slimmer with Jacksonville’s Clay Harbor and former Bengal and Cardinal Jermaine Gresham still out there as players who may interest the Pats.

One player who is still on the market that will bear watching is the Patriots Akiem Hicks. The Patriots are still interested in bringing the interior defensive lineman back and he was sitting back and watching things unfold yesterday. But Hicks has to be pleased seeing the huge contracts given to both Malik Jackson and Olivier Vernon. If those contracts are any indication, Hicks too will be moving on as those contracts are way over what the Patriots will be willing to spend.

There is still time to get long-term deals done with their own players Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, and Malcolm Butler. The team would be smart to lock up Sheard with a long-term deal as well this offseason.

The Patriots took the smart approach and stayed away from the massive over-spending that the bottom-feeders traditionally do on Day 1. Now is when the work really begins.

Stay tuned…

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.