The New England Patriots are rested and ready for a Sunday Night Football matchup against one of the best teams in the NFL in the Seattle Seahawks (8:30 p.m., NBC). And the last time the Patriots had a week off before a big game against the Seahawks, the words “Malcom, go!” went down in history.
It’s a Super Bowl XLIX rematch, but just how much of a “rematch” is it? There is great turnover in the NFL and the Patriots and the Seahawks are no exceptions. Just 25 Patriots and 28 Seahawks remain from those Super Bowl XLIX rosters from two seasons ago.
“The NFL is all about change, and it’s funny, I’m sure everyone wants to talk about the Super Bowl and how much of a rematch and revenge for them [it will be], but there’s just not that many guys on the team,” Devin McCourty told reporters. “To me, it’s just a very good football game. It’s going to be two competitive teams that have won a lot and go into games ready and prepared to win.”
Sure, many Seahawks have left, but plenty of the great ones remain like Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas. There’s obviously a lot less on the line this time, but still plenty of reasons to expect an emotionally charged game under the lights in an NFL season that has been short on excitement.
It looks like Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham have finally connected. Wilson hit Graham on two beautiful touchdowns last week, as he reached the 100-yard receiving yard mark for the third time this season. It was the first touchdowns thrown by Wilson since Week 4, believe it or not. Are the Patriots ready? Well, the defense has two pretty good tight ends to practice against in Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett. As it stands, the Patriots have allowed 41 receptions for 384 yards and one touchdown to tight ends this season. They’re one of nine teams to allow one touchdown or less to a tight end this season. Graham is by far the best they’ve seen, though.
Legion of Boom
The players might act like this is the most important game only because it’s the next game, but does anybody really believe that? A day does not go by where these Seahawks don’t think or aren’t reminded of how close they were to beating the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX. And for that reason, an already Top 10 defense that ranks third in the NFL with 27 sacks – more than double the Patriots’ sack total – will be that much more dangerous. Tom Brady has yet to throw an interception this season, and it will take some really good decision-making and protection to keep that streak going and keep him on his feet.
The best of the best
When Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll meet this Sunday, it's a meeting between two of the best coaches in the NFL. Belichick's resume is well known around here. Carroll, an ex-Patriots head coach, turned around USC before turning around the Seahawks' program. His coaching style is different from Belichick's (think: Cali dude vs. East Coaster), but the results are often the same. The Patriots are roughly 7.5-point favorites this week. The Seahawks, according to the Boston Herald, haven't lost a game by more than 10 points since October of 2011, and have only lost two games by more than seven points over the last five years.