The New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks are set to square off for the first time since February 1, 2015. If that date does not ring a bell....
The Patriots were able to get an interception by rookie corner back Malcolm Butler at the goal line to seal a 28-24 victory over the Seahawks to win a fourth Lombardi Trophy. After 10 long years, the Super Bowl champions agains resided at 1 Patriot Place.
Fast forward two years, and not much has changed. A few notable players have departed both teams, including running back Marshawn Lynch (retirement) and corner backs Darrelle Revis (free agency) and Brandon Browner (free agency). However, the Seahawks and Patriots remain in a class of their own in their respective conferences, and look to be on a crash-course for Houston come February.
In 17 career matchups, the Patriots hold the slight edge, winning nine games to Seattle's eight. That being said, none of the history between these two teams will matter come Sunday night.
The Patriots feature one of the best offenses in all of football, averaging 27.1 points per game, which is good enough for sixth best in all of football. On the flip side, Russell Wilson and company have struggled to move the football all season. Through eight games this season, Seattle has scored 20.3 points per game, which is 23rd in the NFL. If the Patriots want to be successful on Sunday, they need to make Wilson uncomfortable in the pocket, as he has trouble when he has to hold on to the football.
Defensively, at least based on statistics, the Patriots and Seahawks feature two of the top three defenses in the NFL. The Patriots are middle of the pack in rushing defense (101.6, 15th) and passing defense (252.5, 18th), but rank second in all of football in points allowed with 16.5. The Patriots have heavily utilized the bend-but-don't-break philosophy on defense, and, up until this point, it has paid off.
The Seahawks are clearly an elite defense, allowing 16.8 points per game, which is third best in the NFL. Furthermore, like the Patriots, the Seahawks do not feature a top pass defense (233.9, 10th) or rush defense (98.8, 12th). Neither team has faced an elite opponent, which just adds to the intrigue into this Sunday night matchup.
I will offer more thoughts in the Roundtable this weekend, however, since Robert Kraft took over the franchise in 1994, no team in the NFL except for the Patriots have a winning percentage over .700 in the second half. I know where my money is going.