Seattle Seahawks at New England Patriots (-7.5, 49 o/u)
Finally, the NFL schedule-makers are coming through and giving us some quality prime time matchups. Last week, we enjoyed a Monday night thriller, and this week we are treated to a Sunday night (November 13) battle between two of the top Super Bowl contenders when the Seattle Seahawks (5-2-1 SU, 3-4-1 ATS) head to New England to take on the Patriots (7-1 SU, 7-1 ATS) at Gillette Stadium (8:30 PM ET).
Not only is this a showcase of two of the league’s top teams, but it is also the first time these two have met since their epic Super Bowl XLIX matchup (2015). I can only imagine how many times we will see Malcolm Butler’s game-sealing interception in the build-up to this one. I know I have already provided you with a pick for this game, but I wanted to dive in a little further.
The Seahawks enter this game with a lot more question marks than their foe. Seattle’s defense, which is normally one of the stingiest against the run, has now allowed more than 120 yards on the ground in three straight games (including 162 last week), and in four of their eight games this season. In spite of that, they still rank 12th against the run and are only giving up 3.5 yards per carry (fifth).
Although defensive end Michael Bennett will not be on the field in Week 10, Seattle will get a huge boost from the return of Kam Chancellor, who has missed the last four games with a groin injury. In Chancellor’s absence, the defense allowed its four highest yardage totals of the season, giving up at least 250 yards through the air in each. The big-hitting safety will not only give a boost to the tenth-ranked pass defense, but his presence in the box will be felt against the run.
After reading that, you may believe Seattle’s defense has been struggling. This is true if you’re looking at it by the standards they have set for themselves over the last few years, but they do still rank third in scoring defense and ninth in total defense.
When trying to find an issue with this team, the running game, or lack thereof, should jump out at you. Seattle ranks 30th in rushing yards and 30th in yards per attempt (3.2). Despite being marred by injuries all season, Russell Wilson has been asked to put the offense on his back. It’s hard to argue that Wilson hasn’t played well under increased pressure, but he has not been anywhere near as dangerous with his legs, only totaling 54 rushing yards on the season.
If Seattle wants to get some revenge for their Super Bowl defeat, they’ll have to prove they can run the ball much more effectively, as trying to beat a Bill Belichick-coached team with a one-dimensional offense is not ideal.
Belichick’s Patriots have separated themselves from the rest of the league since Tom Brady’s triumphant return to the field in Week 5. With Brady under center this season, things have looked way too easy for the Patriots; they’ve outscored their opponents 136-71 in four games with Brady.
Despite having only played in four games thus far, Brady looks like a serious contender to win the MVP award: 73.1 completion-percentage, 1,319 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a 133.9 passer rating. It is clear that Brady is playing with a chip on his shoulder. However, this will be Brady’s first real-test of the season, and he’ll want to make a major statement to the league – and Roger Goodell.
The Patriots’ defense has not been great this season, but they have kept points off the scoreboard. In spite of ranking 15th in yards allowed, they have the second-ranked scoring defense. While the news of the team trading Jamie Collins came as a surprise to many, it should be noted that he had already become a part-time player for the squad. Rookie linebacker Elandon Roberts had been taking the majority of the snaps and continued to impress, making Collins expendable.
Roberts will have to continue his stellar play this week, and ensure that Seattle doesn’t get going on the ground. Bill Belichick will scheme to have Jimmy Graham receiving a lot of attention, and will force another Seahawk receiver to step-up and beat them in the passing game, which I don’t see happening.
We have not seen much of Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola this season, but with Seattle focusing on the Pats’ big tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett, there will be lots of room for these two to work. As I said, Brady has a lot to prove this week, and I’m not one to bet against him – especially when he’s at home.
Pick: Patriots (-7.5)
Photo Credit: Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].