Predicting that the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks would have the same record heading into their Week 6 matchup would have drawn plenty of confused looks prior to the NFL season, but these teams will battle each other this Sunday to maintain their winning records.
The Patriots suffered close losses against the Arizona Cardinals and the Baltimore Ravens, but have responded with two impressive victories and sit at 3-2.
The Seahawks have taken a controversial road to their 3-2 record, after the replacement referees made their last—and largest—mistake by awarding the team a game-winning touchdown against the Green Bay Packers. But the Seattle defense has not allowed an opponent to score more than 20 points this season, and is the driving force behind the team's success.
Here is everything you need to know about this inter-conference battle.
Where: Century Link Stadium, Seattle, Wash.
When: Sunday, October 14, 4:05 p.m. ET
Listen: 98.5 The Sports Hub, Sirius 91 (New England), 710 AM ESPN, 97.3 FM KIRO (Seattle)
Spread: New England -4 (according to Sports Book)
Patriots Injuries (via ESPN, as of Oct. 10)
S Steve Gregory, Questionable, Hip
WR Julian Edelman, Questionable, Hand
TE Aaron Hernandez, Questionable, Ankle
Seahawks Injuries (via ESPN, as of Oct. 10)
Seattle has no significant injuries to report.
What’s At Stake
If the Patriots fail to win this game, they will equal their loss total from a season ago. New England has looked shaky at times this year, and the offense must prove it can succeed against a young and aggressive defense.
For Seattle, keeping pace in the NFC West will be difficult. Every team in the division currently has a winning record, and all four franchises have excellent defenses. The Seahawks will need to record a few upsets this season if they hope to make the playoffs.
Any success the Seahawks have on offense will come through running back Marshawn Lynch. He has received 20 or more carries and gained at least 80 rushing yards in every game this season. Fantasy owners can expect another similar performance from him.
The Patriots' offensive stars have not been as consistent. Rob Gronkowski in particular has been unreliable, with three productive performances and two disappointing ones. Gronk’s fantasy owners can only hope that he is a large part of the team’s game plan this week.
Patriots Players to Watch: Stevan Ridley, Running Back
While New England has built a reputation as a throwing team, the Patriots rank 10th in passing attempts and first in rushing attempts. Ridley has received 102 of the team’s 191 rushes and has gained the fifth-most yardage of any RB in the NFL.
He will continue to be a key part of the Pats offense, and his success will slow down the Seahawks pass-rushers. Look for New England to get Ridley involved from the start in this game.
Seahawks Player to Watch: Chris Clemons, Defensive End
Seattle's pass rush has terrorized opposing quarterbacks this season. On passing downs, Clemons and Bruce Irvin show off their explosiveness on the edge and often make tackles look foolish.
But Clemons is a more complete player than Irvin, who is primarily used as a pass-rush specialist. Even though both players will likely become familiar with Tom Brady, Clemons will have a larger impact on this game because he will spend significantly more time on the field.
What They’re Saying
Jeff Howe of The Boston Herald notes that the loud noise from this matchup won’t be coming just from the raucous Seattle crowd, as this physical matchup is sure to produce a few audible thuds.
Linebacker Brandon Spikes loves a good challenge, especially when it comes to hitting someone. This week might be his most violent test yet, as the Patriots prepare for Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who carries the ball with the brute force of a runaway train.
The Seattle Times’ Danny O’Neil reports that quarterback Russell Wilson has achieved success with the throws he hasn’t made, more than the ones he has made.
Of all the rookies who began the season as their team's starting quarterback over the past 20 years, only one attempted fewer passes than Russell Wilson through five games.
But none had more victories.
Key Matchup: Patriots Passing Game vs. Seahawks Pass Rush
Despite the Patriots’ propensity to run the ball this year, Tom Brady is still the heart of the offense. This game will hinge on his ability to get the ball out his hands before Clemons and Irvin get to him.
If the pass rush is able to disrupt Brady’s rhythm, Seattle will have an excellent chance to come out on top in another defensive battle. But the New England running backs are capable of neutralizing the pressure on Brady, and if this happens, the loudest crowd in the league will have little to cheer for.
Prediction: New England 24, Seattle 13
The Seahawks defense will get to Brady early, but half time adjustments will allow that Pats to get the points they need to leave Seattle with a victory.