Good morning. We finally have some football weather this weekend, with 100 percent chance of rain and some wind gusts. So dress appropriately if you’re headed out to the game today.
Here’s my five keys for the game with Seattle taking on the New England Patriots at CenturyLink Field this afternoon.
Score TDs in the red zone – The Seahawks are the worst team in the league in red zone production, scoring a touchdown only 28.6 percent of the time inside the 20-yard line. Scoring in the red zone was a point of emphasis during practice this week. And with the Seahawks playing the top-rated offense in the league in New England, they need to get into the end zone instead of settling for three points to keep up with the Patriots.
Win the turnover battle – New England is tied for the league-lead with a +10 turnover differential, including 14 takeaways on defense this season. The Seahawks have lost the turnover battle the last two games, and are -1 in turnover differential. In order for Seattle to win today, they will have to steal a couple possessions away from New England.
Control the line of scrimmage – Most games are won in the trenches, and today should not be any different. Seattle’s offensive line needs to get a push in the running game against stout defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and the rest of New England’s defensive lien so Marshawn Lynch can get the ground game going. And defensively, Brandon Mebane and the rest of Seattle’s defensive line must get after Tom Brady, and stuff a Patriots’ running game averaging 165 yards a contest.
Get after Brady – In NFC West division rival Arizona’s win at New England earlier this season, the Cardinals sacked Brady four times and hit him another six times. Seattle needs to get after Brady in a similar manner to have success today, much like the defense accomplished three weeks ago against Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.
Bring the noise – The 12th Man needs to be loud and proud in order to affect New England’s no-huddle offense and make it hard on Brady to communicate with the rest of the offense. Show the rest of the nation that the crowd noise at CenturyLink Field is not some overblown side story.
Here’s my advance for today’s game. I talked with Seattle defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, who’s is playing well right now, and has been influenced by another Seattle legend having his jersey retired at halftime today – Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy. Here’s what Mebane had to say about the national prognosticators picking New England to win today. Mebane: “They’re going to come out and do what they do, so all we can do is get ready for it. If you really look at it, they’re supposed to pick New England because he (Brady) has three Super Bowl rings. If a person really doesn’t understand football, and they just look at their organization, and they see the rings and the Super Bowls, they’re going to pick that team.
“Just being on the West Coast for so long, you’re never going to get no love on the West Coast. It is what it is. You just have to go out there and play, and prove them wrong.”
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times writes that the Patriots will provide a measuring stick for Seattle’s talented defense today.
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com writes that this is a win that both teams needs, with Seattle and New England at 3-2 and trying to stay in the playoff hunt.
Chareen Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes that usually stoic Seattle safety Earl Thomas has reason to smile these days – the recent birth of his 3-week-old daughter, Kaleigh Rose Thomas. “It’s exciting to see how much she grows every day, and the faces she makes and stuff like that,” Thomas said in a phone interview. “I love her to death.”
Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston talks to Seattle players about how they prepared for New England’s no-huddle offense this week: “Any time you have a tempo like that, you have to prepare for it and you have to game plan for it,” second-year cornerback Richard Sherman said. “The only thing you can do is get your offense to simulate it to the best of their abilities and hope you’re prepared enough on Sunday to play. Coaches did everything they could. They tried to fatigue us.”
Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald writes that shifty New England receiver Wes Welker should have an advantage against Seattle’s tall, lanky defenders.
Ron Borges of the Boston Herald writes that the effect of the 12th Man is overrated. Borges: “The hand-wringing in some circles seemed to postulate that if the Patriots aren’t sprinting to the line of scrimmage like Usain Bolt they are somehow limited in what they can accomplish. Truth be told, they’ve been more productive huddling up than not this season, which really means they’ve been offensively overwhelming most of the time, no matter where they call their plays.”