The Sunday Night Football matchup on NBC features two playoff teams coming off victories in the opening week of the season.
New England unveiled their new offense under the direction of Cam Newton last Sunday. Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel threw out the Tom Brady offensive playbook while going back to their old Jacoby Brissett blueprints they had to use a few years ago when Brady was suspended for four games to conclude the Deflate-gate saga.
Between a mix of quarterback options and designed running plays, Newton ran the ball 15 times for 75 yards while reaching the end zone two times. Newton also completed 15 of his 19 passes for 155 yards with no interceptions while showing no physical limitations to the multiple injuries he had suffered in his last few seasons in Carolina for the Panthers.
The Patriots defeated AFC East rival Miami by a 21-11 score with their defense also flexing their muscles by holding the Dolphins to just 169 yards of offense.
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll already has a book on Newton with the Seahawks having to contend with him and the Panthers a few times in the NFC playoffs over the years. The Seattle defensive coaching staff will have ideas as to how to slow down Newton’s running threat.
Seattle traveled to Atlanta last week to defeat the Falcons by a 38-25 score as a small road favorite. Russell Wilson was spectacular as he completed 31 of 35 passes for 322 yards with four touchdown passes while gaining another 29 yards with his legs.
The Seahawks surprised the Falcons’ defense by throwing the ball nine straight times at one point in the first quarter to catch Atlanta defensive coordinator Raheem Morris off-balance after he had coached the defense to prioritize stopping Chris Carson and the Seattle ground game.
Did this opening game demonstrate that Carroll had decided to listen to his critics and “let Russ cook” by opening up the passing game early in that contest? Perhaps this was a gambit designed to stymie his former defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn, who may have assured Morris about what Carroll’s directives would be for his offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer? Was Carroll thinking ahead to this Patriots game on deck with those opening game tactics working as misdirection for his game plan this week? Is a return to the Seahawks’ commitment to run the football with Carson and their new running back Carlos Hyde against the New England defense imminent?
These two teams last played in November of 2016 when Seattle traveled to Foxboro to upset the Patriots by a 31-24 score as a 7.5-point underdog. That game was a rematch of their Super Bowl showdown the previous February which New England won by a 28-24 score when the Seahawks bypassed giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch for a quick inside slant pass by Russell Wilson that Malcolm Butler intercepted in the end zone.BetOnline
listed Seattle as the favorite late in the week at home at CenturyLink Field laying 4.5 points with the over/under set at 44.5. The kickoff on NBC is scheduled for 8:20 PM ET Sunday night.