Patriots vs. Seahawks: 3 Key Matchups to Watch for Seattle

Tyson Langland@TysonNFLNFC West Lead WriterOctober 12, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 09:  (L-R) Cornerback Brandon Browner #39 and strong safety Kam Chancellor #31 of the Seattle Seahawks walk out onto the field before the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 9, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Pete Carroll's Seahawks are looking to start 4-2 for the second time in three years.

However, winning this week will be no easy task as Tom Brady and the No. 1 offense in the NFL roll into the Link. 

Good thing Seattle has the No. 1 defense in the NFL.

This Sunday's game will be Tom Brady's first appearance in the Pacific Northwest. When New England visited the 'Hawks in 2008, quarterback Matt Cassel was under center. Brady was sidelined with a torn ACL that had occurred 12 weeks prior. 

Neither team resembles its mold from the 2008 season, which is a good thing for Coach Carroll's club. Seneca Wallace was the starting quarterback and Maurice Morris was the starting running back, not to mention that the best player on defense was Lofa Tatupu.

Those three names are friendly reminders of just how far this team has come in four years. 

How will Gus Bradley's defense attack No. 12?

Let's take a look as we break down the three most intriguing matchups heading into Sunday's game. 


Three Key Matchups

The "Legion of Boom" vs. Tom Brady

The "Legion of Boom" is the nickname Brandon Browner, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas have been given as members of the Seahawks' secondary. All four players are big and strong. Not to mention they all bring the wood. 

They will have to throw everything they have at Brady in order to knock him off his game. He has been absolutely unstoppable the last three weeks. From Week 3 to Week 5, he has thrown for 898 yards, five touchdowns, earning a quarterback rating of 108.6. Not to mention he has two rushing touchdowns as well. 

Fortunately for Seattle, Sherman and Browner will try to make Brady's life a living hell.

Pro Football Focus has Sherm as the best cover corner in the league. On 28 targets, he has only allowed 16 completions for 216 yards. Add in the fact he has two interceptions and four passes defended, and you may have a hard time finding a more complete corner. 

Flip it over to the right cornerback position and Browner is right up towards the top as well.

His coverage grade isn't as high as No. 25's, but his overall grade on PFF still puts him in the top five. If there is one thing he does better than Sherman it's defending the run. And right now the Patriots are more run-heavy than they've been in a long time.

The last time the "Legion of Boom" faced an elite quarterback at home, they completely shut him down. Aaron Rodgers was under pressure 44 percent of the time, which led to eight sacks. A majority of those sacks came in the first-half.


Brandon Mebane vs. Patriots' Rushing Attack

New England is currently the third best rushing team in the league.

They are averaging 165.4 yards per game and 4.3 yards per carry. No team has attempted more runs this seasons than the Patriots. The interior run-blocking of Ryan Wendell, Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly has helped Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden became a formidable one-two punch.

Despite Ridley's four touchdowns and 257 yards after contact, he has had fumbling problems the past two games. Those ball security issues have earned Ridley one-foot in Bill Belichick's doghouse—the same thing that happened to him last season.

With the Seahawks being one of the best teams at taking the ball away, I wouldn't be surprised if he found his way to the bench again in Week 6. Seattle has forced 11 fumbles through five games, easily tops in the league. Unfortunately, they've only been able to recover four of those 11 fumbles.

Heading into this week their defense has forced a total of seven turnovers.

Aside from the turnovers, there is one major reason the Seahawks are the most stout team against the run. His name is Brandon Mebane. Right now, Mebane is the highest-graded interior lineman against the run, and he leads the NFC with 13 defensive stops. (Stops indicate the number of solo tackles that constitute an offensive failure.) He also has three tackles for loss in the run game. 

According to Advanced NFL Stats, No. 92 is the third most impactful player on Bradley's defense on a per game basis. It's incredible that he makes that much of an impact while only playing 60 percent of the team's snaps. 

Seahawk fans hope they see plenty of the upright worm Sunday afternoon—it's Mebane's way of saying, "I own the backfield."


Pete Carroll vs. Bill Belichick

Considering Coach Carroll used to be the coach of the New England Patriots, you know this game means more to him than the average game. Owner Robert Kraft hired Coach Belichick in 2000. Carroll had amassed a 27-21 record during his three year stint in New England. He never would have thought he would be cast aside with a winning record, but his dismissal might have been the best thing for him.

It made him realize that he needed to have more control and say going forward. (Via Tim Booth of the Associated Press): 

What I learned from the situation is to be a really successful head coach you have to have control. Otherwise it’s somebody else’s job that you’re dealing with. That’s why everything that came out of that experience changed me and I haven’t been the same ever since, Carroll said Wednesday.

That eventual control helped him compile a 97-19 record at USC and two AP titles.

If given time, his philosophies show they can be beneficial. More than ever, you're finally starting to see what his teams do best, and that's play defense and run the football. It's his third year as Seahawks head coach and things have never looked so bright for this organization. 

Belichick and Carroll have only squared off against each other once in their respected careers. At the time, Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns and Carroll was the head coach of the New York Jets. BB ended up getting the better of PC on that day, but I have a feeling this week's outcome may be a tad bit different. 

Currently, the Pats hold the all-time series 8-7 over the 'Hawks. 



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