Malcolm, Go! The greatest two words said in sequence ever. You don’t need me to tell you this week is a big one. Poodle Pete Carroll. Richard Sherman. Russell Wilson. The Legion of Boom. Different seasons and situations, but many of the same characters remain.
Let’s get right into it and see what the BBS Staff thinks of this HUGE Sunday night showdown and potential Super Bowl preview, not to mention rematch…
Tom Brady: Over/Under 310 yards passing?
Niko: OVER. This is the best Quarterback of all time playing the best football of his career. It doesn’t matter whose on the other side of the ball. Put the thing in 12’s hands and don’t look back.
Pete: I have a feeling the Patriots are going to try and spread the Seahawks out, instead of mix in the running game. This doesn't mean LeGarrette Blount is going to have a bad game, as he usually steps up when the lights get their brightest. Back to Brady. All of his weapons are healthy and ready to roll. Easy OVER, I don't care about the opponent.
Jordan: Flashback to SB49, Tom Brady threw for 328 yards against, pretty much, the same secondary he's facing Sunday night. To go on top of that, Brady has even more weapons than he had back in that Super Bowl, and they're all healthy. OVER for the GOAT.
LeGarrette Blount: Over/Under 67 yards rushing?
Niko: Yes, Seattle is a bit more vulnerable in the run game than we’re used to them being. However, with the way Brady is playing I can't see why you’d want to run the ball for 3 yards other than simply to keep the defense honest. UNDER.
Pete: UNDER, but barely. Blount is going to be efficient and may pick up a big first down, but I don't think he is going to be able to run all over the Seahawks' defense.
Jordan: UNDER. I expect this to be your mechanical Patriots victory. Run the ball just to let them know you actually have a back, but it'll only be used to set up the play action. This is TB12's game.
James White: Over/Under 44.5 yards from scrimmage?
Niko: OVER. Anyone remember what old friend Shane Vereen did to these guys in the Super Bowl? 11 catches for 64 yards. Kill this defense with a thousand paper cuts. Expect White and Dion Lewis to get a ton of looks out of the backfield.
Pete: UNDER. I don't think, or hope, the Patriots have to check down to James White a lot come Sunday. This will mean the big guns, like Gronk, Edelman, etc., aren't open. Furthermore, as Niko alluded to, all reports point to Dion Lewis making his 2016 debut on Sunday night. I don't expect to see a ton of him in this game as they try to ease him back into playing shape, but he could take some snaps away from James White.
Jordan: UNDER. I see Brady sharing the wealth on check downs between White and Dion Lewis. They both will have a couple big plays, but I don't see either of them having a big game individually.
Julian Edelman: Over/Under 7.5 receptions, 72 receiving yards?
Niko: OVER on both. They don’t have an answer for Jules. He’ll bring it.
Pete: OVER. Edelman is Brady's binky. Need a key first down? Throw to Edelman. Need a check down option? Screw the running backs, throw to Edelman. Big day for Jules.
Jordan: It seems as though the Patriots are almost containing Edelman for big games like this. I expect us to see more of the Julian Edelman we saw last year when he was healthy, and that's be Brady's number one target. OVER on both.
Rob Gronkowski: Over/Under 4.5 receptions, 79 yards receiving?
Niko: If the Seahawks try to cover #87 one on one at any point in the entire game, they are completely and utterly doomed. I would think Pete and his defensive staff are brighter than that, however, and do everything they can to keep the big guy at bay using as many resources as possible. OVER on catches, UNDER on yards in a comparatively quiet game for Gronk. Still think he finds pay dirt though.
Pete: OVER on both. Gronk is fully healthy and is the most dominant player in all of football. No one can touch him, and he will continue to spank you around unless he is injured.
Jordan: Tough for me to argue with Pete on that one. Gronk, like he said, is healthy and can't be stopped when that's the case. We'll see if the Hawks smartened up or if they still insist on putting an LB on the big fella. Regardless, I see OVER on both.
Martellus Bennett: Over/Under 3.5 receptions, 55 yards receiving?
Niko: OVER on both for Marty. This will be a spread ‘em out game. Marty should be the beneficiary of some mismatches.
Pete: OVER on receptions, UNDER on yards. Bennett is nursing an ankle injury, which may limit him if he hits the open field.
Jordan: I'll say UNDER on both because of the ankle injury. I see Marty making a couple key catches on a third and short. Try to maximize him in a way that won't jeopardize the rest of his season. We'll see.
Russell Wilson: Over/Under 269 yards passing?
Niko: Due to some health issues and suspect O-line play, Wilson has had a difficult year, one not up to his standards thus far. That being said, last week v. Buffalo was his best game of the season and I suspect he’ll keep some momentum. OVER on this line, as the Seahawks are going to have to chuck it to keep pace with Brady and co.
Pete: UNDER. Wilson is a great field general, but he isnt going to throw all over the Patriots, regardless of how sketchy their defense has been this year. Not one receiver on the Seahawks scare me.
Jordan: I'll say barely UNDER. Wilson has a shoot for an arm and has the ability to thread the needle at time. I don't think he's going to have a crisp game at Gillette, but I don't think that'll hurt his yard total too much.
Christine Michael: Over/Under 59 yards rushing?
Niko: After hitting this mark in 4 of the first 5 weeks, Michael and the Seahawks running game has hit a lull. Combined with their O-line’s struggles, and the expectation that CJ Prosise (more on him later) takes away a chunk of carries, Michael won’t hit this mark. UNDER. This is an extreme area of focus for the post-Collins Patriots defense.
Pete: OVER. Not because Michael is going to have a good game, but because Russell Wilson is not going to be able to throw all over this team.
Jordan: Not very much knowledge about Michael. I'm pretty sure he was on the Cowboys briefly last year, but didn't sustain much success for "America's Team." Any who, I'll go with OVER as well, run defense hasn't been great.
Doug Baldwin: Over/Under 5.5 receptions, 69 receiving yards?
Niko: Doug Baldwin is averaging 5.5 catches and 71.3 receiving yards a game. Malcolm Butler, who I presume will get the call for the matchup, is no average cornerback. UNDER on both, expect this to be a fiery one on one.
Pete: UNDER. I think Seattle receivers are going to have an extremely tough day against this Patriots defense. Simply put, they just aren't that talented.
Jordan: Malcolm Butler has simply been a bright spot on an otherwise weak Pats secondary at times. He's been the most consistent of the bunch. I like this matchup for the Pats. UNDER on both.
Tyler Lockett: Over/Under 39.5 yards from scrimmage?
Niko: Last year’s 3rd rounder has taken a major step back in his sophomore season, failing to find the end zone after scoring 8 times last season (6 receiving, 2 in the return game). Someone needs to step up for Wilson on Sunday night, and I think Lockett will be the recipient of some extra targets. OVER.
Pete: UNDER for the reasons stated above.
Jordan: OVER. This dude is faaaaaaast, and with Logan Ryan likely the matchup, he could be Wilson's dark horse this week.
Jimmy Graham: Over/Under 4.5 receptions, 79 yards receiving?
Niko: Never been the biggest Jimmy Graham fan, but when he’s on, it’s tough to argue that more than a select few tight ends are bigger difference makers. I expect Russ to feed Jimmy early and often, and while it won’t be as efficient as they’re used to (this season at least), Jimmy will be right around these marks. OVER on catches, UNDER on yards.
Pete: OVER on catches, UNDER on yards. Unlike Seattle's receivers, Jimmy Graham is a defensive mismatch. If Jamie Collins was still on this team, it would be clear who would be covering Jimmy Graham. However, who is going to covering him come Sunday? Devin McCourty, maybe?
Jordan: To go off of what Pete said, I'm curious as to who covers Graham. The only logical people, in my opinion, are McCourty and MAYBE Barkevious Mingo, I don't even know if he's going to have a greater role. I'll go OVER on receptions, UNDER on yards. I'll say he likely finds the end zone as well.
Niko: After watching the ‘Hawks on Monday night, this got a lot more clear. Whoever is covering Jimmy Graham, who looks as healthy and motivated as he did in 2013, is the key matchup. My best guess would be Devin McCourty getting the most time on the 6’7 265 pounder, but I could see Pat Chung getting in the mix, and (gulp) potentially even Eric Rowe for a bigger defender.
Pete: I hate to pick the same matchup as Niko, so I will switch it up a bit. I will say the Patriots' D-line vs. Russell Wilson. Wilson has tried to stay in the pocket and become more of a pocket passer this season, and has flourished. However, Wilson has a tendency to hold on to the ball a little too long and make mistakes. The Patriots line needs to start generating some pressure on the quarterback.
Jordan: I agree with Niko. Whoever the hell is covering Jimmy Graham is the key matchup for the week. Graham finally seems like he's a part of this offense, and the Patriots have to find some way to tame him. If not, this game may not be as comfortable as some seem to think will be the case.
Niko: I think this may be the first time I’m doing this, but here’s a non-Patriot bold prediction: running back CJ Prosise gets 50+ yard from scrimmage and extends a couple drives for the Seahawks on 3rd down. The 6’1 220 pound rookie 3rd round rookie from Notre Dame has been more involved as the season has gone on and his role will continue to expand into the winter.
Pete: I expect a big day out of Julian Edelman. He has been quiet so far this season, which can be partly attributed to his lingering foot injury. However, after a week off, Edelman should be healthier and could be a huge check down option for Brady in this game, as they are playing one of the elite defenses in the NFL.
Jordan: Chris Hogan is Brady's number one target. Hogan has seemed to revitalize his career in his first 8 weeks as a Patriot, and I see that maybe coming to fruition this week.
Game Total: Over/Under 48.5?
Niko: OVER, but this will be close. No matter how good Seattle’s defense is, Brady and co. should have no problem getting close to 30, and the Pats’ D has questions of their own, especially in the first game sans Jamie Collins.
Pete: UNDER, but barely. The Patriots will score their points, but I have a difficult time seeing the Seahawks scoring 24+ points against this defense. Furthermore, like I've mentioned earlier, the Seahawks' offense simply isn't that good.
Jordan: UNDER. For the reasons Pete said. I don't think the Patriots defense will be the same at the end of the game as it will at the start (elaboration, it'll be stout by the second half).
Final Prediction (Patriots -7.5):
Niko: Pats 31-20. Can’t wait to see this face:
Pete: 27-17 Pats. Both teams are going to move the ball at times, but the Patriots are able to finish. Haven't we learned by now the Seahawks don't know how to put the ball in the end zone?
Jordan: 31-17 Pats. The Patriots, especially at home, just have too much fire power for this inconsistent Seahawks team.