In a rematch of Super Bowl 49, the Seattle Seahawks travel to Foxboro to face the Patriots in a Sunday Night Football match-up. The 7-1 Patriots will play host to the 5-2-1 Seahawks in a match-up that will certainly be one to watch. Coming off a victory on Monday night against the Bills, the Seahawks will look to add another victory to their record against the AFC East. The Patriots are coming off their bye week and come in extremely healthy, with only four players questionable and the return of Dion Lewis as well. This game clearly has some interesting storylines coming into it, including Pete Carroll's return to Foxboro along with the incredible Super Bowl these two teams had only two seasons ago.
For the Seahawks, they have played some incredible defense this season (as usual). They own the third best scoring defense (16.5 points per game) in the league while allowing the 10th fewest passing yards per game (233.9). Defensive playmakers such as Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner have provided terrific defense despite the team missing Kam Chancellor for several weeks and now Michael Bennett to a knee injury. The Seahawks are tied for second fewest passing touchdowns (six) while also collecting six interceptions as well so far. They are third in the league with 27 sacks and have allowed for the sixth fewest passer rating (81.6) too.
Their strong secondary along with their excellent pass-rushers have been big keys as usual for the team and their dominance in pass defense. Sherman has been a lock-down cornerback again this season while Frank Clark and Cliff Avril have combined for 15.5 sacks through the team's first eight games. Along with Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are again proving they are one of the NFL's best safety duos in their coverage and blitzing abilities. They have caused many opponents' passing offenses to be obsolete against them.
For their rushing defense, they have been very impressive as well. They are giving up 98.6 rushing yards per game, good for 12th in the league. They are only allowing 3.5 yards per rushing attempt, good for fifth in the NFL. In only eight games this season, they have allowed six rushing touchdowns while collecting two fumbles as well. The team's strong front seven has been a big reason as to why they are so solid in against the run, including the likes of Wagner, K.J Wright, Ahytba Rubin and Tony McDaniel.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Seahawks have struggled a bit this season. They are 26th in total yardage per game (332.1) and 23rd in points per game (20.3). On the passing side, they are 13th with 256.8 yards per game, tied for last in the league with eight passing touchdowns and have allowed 16 sacks, tied for ninth in the NFL. Russell Wilson has struggled for the most part this season with only 54 yards rushing on the season and dealing with massive offensive line issues. He is on pace for his highest passing yardage total (4,188) of his career but only 14 passing touchdowns, which would be six lower than his career low (20) in 2014. He is also on pace for his lowest rushing total (108) since his rookie season with 489 yards. He has dealt with a multitude of his injuries this season including a knee and pectoral injury.
After finishing with the most rushing yards per game (172.6) in 2014 and the third most in 2015 (141.8), the Seahawks are currently 30th in the NFL with only 75.8 in 2016. Christine Michael got off to a hot start to start the season with 290 yards rushing through the first four games but only 157 in the last four. They are also tied for 13th in the league with eight rushing touchdowns. The team has been without Thomas Rawls all season due an ankle/fibula injury and is now finally getting rookie C.J. Prosise back after he missed time with a hand injury. This Seattle team appears to be a shell of what we have seen in the past in their run game and it could hurt them against a solid Patriots defense.
The Patriots are allowing the 15th fewest yards per game (354.1), including the 15th most passing yards per game (252.2). In terms of points per game, the Patriots are actually second in the NFL with only allowing 16.5 points per game. On their passing defense, the team has allowed nine passing touchdowns, tied for eighth fewest in the league. Despite their impressive pass defense numbers, the Patriots have only 13 sacks this season, tied for 28th in the NFL. Most of this can be tied to the more conservative play-calling by the Patriots, rushing only three or four rushers most of the time while allowing most of their players to sit back in coverage. It could easily change in the second half of the season, but the team has been successful with what they are doing, so who knows?
For their run defense, the Patriots are giving up the 15th fewest rushing yards per game (101.6) and tied for 10th fewest in the NFL with six rushing touchdowns. The team is tied for 16th in the NFL with 4.1 yards allowed per rushing attempt but have forced the second most fumbles with eight on the season. Despite that, they have only recovered one of those fumbles. Overall, their rush defense like their pass defense has been in the middle of the pack in terms of yards per game allowed. The key for this team is the fact that they have only allowed 15 offensive touchdowns in eight games, averaging less than two per game. They have the "bend but not break" mentality and it's clearly showing this season. Against a weaker offensive team in Seattle, we could see them have another solid defensive showing.
The bread and butter of the Patriots is their offense. They currently average the seventh most yards per game with 380.3 while averaging the ninth most passing yards per game with 263.9. For whatever it's worth, since Tom Brady has returned, he is averaging 319 yards per game passing, which would be second in the NFL before New Orleans. Even with Brady only playing four games so far, the team is still 11th in the NFL with 16 passing touchdowns. Over a eight game span, Brady would've thrown for 24 passing touchdowns, which would be one more than the NFL lead over Atlanta. They are also the only team in the NFL to have thrown an interception this season, which shows the efficient passing the team has put up this season. As usual, the team has been elite in their passing offense and will arguably have their biggest team on Sunday night with the Seahawks.
Surprisingly, the Patriots run defense is equally as elite this season. They average the eighth most rushing yards per game (116.4) and are tied for fourth in the league with 10 rushing touchdowns. They do however are tied for fourth in the NFL with six fumbles and are 26th in yards per carry (3.9). A lot of New England's success in the run game has been because of LeGarrette Blount. He is 10th in the NFL with 608 rushing yards and is tied for the league lead with Melvin Gordon with nine rushing touchdowns. He has scored at least one touchdown in seven of his games this season and has three games with at least 100 yards rushing. Him along with James White have combined to allow New England to have one of the better rushing attacks in the NFL.
Overall, this game stacks up with Seattle having an elite defense and weak offense and the Patriots having an above-average defense and elite offense. The key will be whether New England can find a crack in this Seahawks defense to allow them to run up a good score and keep Seattle from the scoring the ball as well. While they haven't made much of an attempt at rushing the passer this season, the Patriots may be forced to against this very weak Seahawks offensive line. Both teams are coming off a win in their last game and are both division leaders. Regardless of the stats coming into this game, it has the potential to be one of the best games this season to watch.