This week there has been a great deal of discussion about the Patriots number one ranked offense coming in to town to face the Seahawks D which also ranks number one. It’s a classic unstoppable force-immovable object scenario. When you add the power of the 12th man to the equation signs point to a game with playoff like intensity. Even though the marquee aspect of this game is how Brady fares against the crowd and the defense but the Patriots are bound to put up some points and Russell Wilson and company will need to respond against a Patriots defense that is excellent against the run and sure to key on Marshawn Lynch. Let’s take a look at the matchups that could decide what could be a statement game for Seattle.
Matchup #1: Golden Tate vs. Kyle Arrington
Despite the poor performance of the Seahawk’s passing game this year Golden Tate is on pace for a career year. To be fair that’s not saying much as Tate has not been very productive to this point in his career. Tate is averaging 2.5 catches for 36 yards this year compared to his career averages of 2.1 and 24.3. This might not sound like a lot but it’s a start. Tate’s production is also likely to trend upwards as Russell Wilson develops. His 3 touchdowns in 4 games already ties a career high, showing a knack for the big play. With Sidney Rice locked up with sticky cover man Devin McCourty, Tate might be the Hawks best chance to get it going through the air. His opponent, Kyle Arrington, is no slouch though. Arrington was an undrafted free agent who bounced around multiple practice squads before eventually settling in as a starter with the Patriots in 2010. Arrington really dialed it up last year with 7 interceptions but I still expect Tate to see a lot of targets as he has been getting open more consistently than any other Seahawks pass catcher this year.
Matchup #2: Richard Sherman vs. Brandon Lloyd
Sherman has done an excellent job shutting down opposing receivers this year carrying over the excellent work he started in his rookie year. Sherman is often under-appreciated as the only member of the Legion of Boom (I’m not sure what to make of that nickname to be honest) that didn’t make the Pro Bowl. I would be very surprised if he didn’t rectify that someday. Lloyd is only two years removed from leading the league in receiving yards and presents a difficult challenge for Sherman. Lloyd and Brady haven’t entirely clicked yet but the duo is too talent not make it happen in the near future. Sherman has to make sure this week isn’t the week. Expect a physical battle all day with Lloyd making an acrobatic catch or two even when he’s well covered because that’s sort of his thing.
Matchup # 3: 12th Man vs. Tom Brady
Quite a bit has been made this week about how Brady has yet to play in Seattle. I’m not naïve enough to believe the three time Super Bowl winner will be rattled by the noise of the Clink but I’ve watched too much Seahawks football to be cynical enough to believe the 12th man won’t be a factor. As the leader of the offense Brady will be fighting the crowd all day. The crowd can really help the Seahawks if they can make it hard for Brady to audible and run a no huddle offense. A false start or two also couldn’t hurt. The Clink can really wear down opposing quarterbacks and I’m really curious about the extent to which it can do a number a quarterback of Brady’s quality.
This game is not only a must-watch for Seahawks fans but a must watch for football fans in general. There are fascinating story lines at play here and personally I’ve always despised Tom Brady and the Patriots and any opportunity to stick them with a loss is fantastic as far as I’m concerned. If Seattle wins this a 4-2 record will put the right in the thick of the surprisingly competitive NFC West race. If the Seahawks expect to hang with the 49ers this is the sort of game they have to win.