What: Matchup of two of the best teams in the NFL
When: Sunday, October 17th, 10 am (PST)
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Massachusetts
Patriots Key Players:
QB Tom Brady: Brady isn't the most spectacular signal-caller in the league but he may be the best leader of any team. All he has done since he came into the league in 2000 is win two Super Bowls and become the MVP of each of those games. Brady entered 2004 as the Patriots' all-time leader in career completion percentage (61.9 percent) and passer rating (85.9) and so far he is on pace for the best rating of his career at 96.0. Brady is accurate but most of all he makes few mistakes. So far he has thrown for 928 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions.
RB Corey Dillon: Dillon was acquired during the offseason in a trade with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Patriot faithful has not been disappointed. Dillon has added a new dimension to the Patriot offense that has been lacking the last two seasons. So far in 2004 he has rushed for 417 yards on 84 carries (4.9 per carry) and one touchdown. Even on poorly-performing teams in Cincinnati, Dillon still managed to rush for over 1,000 yards in his first six seasons. He is a weapon that has yet to be totally unleashed…watch out.
DE/LB Willie McGinest: McGinest might not record a lot of tackles but he steps up when the team needs him most. Reference last year's epic goal line stand against the Colts in Indianapolis when McGinest penetrated twice to stop RB Edgerrin James short of the touchdown to preserve the win. He is tied for the team lead in sacks with three and even when he doesn't get to the QB, he causes problems in protection. The two-time Pro Bowler hasn't recorded a sack in the Patriots' past two games.
LB Teddy Bruschi: Bruschi is the emotional leader of the defense and he is all over the place when the defensive unit is on the field. He is second on the team in tackles with 25, while also recording 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble, one interception and three passes defensed. He makes the calls for the front-seven and brings a nasty attitude to the game.
CB Ty Law: Law is still widely considered one of the best corners in the league but he has lost a step and now relies on his experience and strength to matchup against the opposition's best wideout. Law plays big in big games and he plays big against the run as well.
Seahawks offensive tackles Chris Terry and Walter Jones vs. McGinest: Jones and Terry had solid games last week against the Rams and there is not reason to expect these two to continue to perform at a high level. Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel likes to move McGinest around and rush him from each end spot and on delayed blitzes through the middle. McGinest plays big when the team needs him to and with the Seahawks attack seemingly beginning to heat up they will need to get consistent pressure on QB Matt Hasselbeck.
Hasselbeck vs. Patriots secondary: Law and SS Rodney Harrison get most of the publicity but FS Eugene Wilson has quickly become one of the better centerfielders in the league. He lacks ideal height and size but he has good range and he is a solid tackler. Hasselbeck, who will be playing in front of a lot of friends and family, has been solid so far this season but really hasn't broken out with a big game. This would certainly be the week to do it.
Dillon vs. Seahawks front seven: Dillon was nicked up last week versus the Dolphins with a slight ankle sprain but he is expected to be at or near 100% by kickoff. With all the injuries facing the Patriots wide receivers Dillon must have a big game and keep the Seahawks defense honest. Seattle only gives up 84.5 yards per game on the ground and it is specifically because of the play of their front seven. DTs Cedric Woodard, Rocky Bernard, Rashad Moore, and Marcus Tubbs, along with DE's Antonio Cochran, Chike Okeafor and Grant Wistrom have been stopping the run by stunting and attacking their gaps when the diagnose a running play. OLB Anthony Simmons is one of the speediest linebackers in the league and he will be counted on the spy Dillon most of the day.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick vs. Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren: Even though the Patriots have Crennel as a defensive coordinator, Belichick pulls the strings on the stop unit. Holmgren is widely considered one of the best offensive minds in the game today. This matchup should be an epic battle of wits between two of the best in the business.
News and Notes: Patriots have won an NFL record 19 straight games; Seahawks lead the series with the Patriots 7-6 and have won the last five games including the last time the two teams faced off in 1993; The Seahawks have recorded at least one interception in nine consecutive games dating back to the game against Cleveland 11/30/2003; Brady is a perfect 7-0 in overtime games in his career.
PROBABLE: QB Tom Brady (right shoulder); QB Jim Miller (right shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Troy Brown (shoulder); RB Corey Dillon (foot)
DOUBTFUL: WR Deion Branch (knee)
PROBABLE: S Ken Hamlin (toe); LB Anthony Simmons (shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: P Tom Rouen (right hamstring); DT Cedric Woodard (toe)
OUT: LB Chad Brown (fibula)
Prediction: New England 27 – Seattle 21
.NET Reporter Scott
Eklund writes for Seahawks.NET every week. Feel free to contact him at email@example.com.
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