Patriots, Seahawks renew acquaintances in prime time
"Sunday Night Football" will continue its early-season West Coast tour by heading up the coast to Seattle for Week 2 as the Seattle Seahawks will host the New England Patriots at CenturyLink Field. There will not be any in-person attendance so it will be interesting to see how Seattle responds to that after a 4-4 home record in 2019 with sold-out crowds.
Russell Wilson hit the ground running along with the rest of the Seahawks (1-0) as they defeated the Atlanta Falcons 38-25 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium last Sunday. Wilson completed 31 of 35 passes for 322 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. The defense won the turnover battle, finishing plus-two in that department. Jamal Adams made a big-time statement in his first outing as a Seahawk by making plays all over the place. Adams led the Seattle defense with 12 tackles, including two for a loss, along with a sack. He also brought a swagger and energy that has been missing over the past couple of seasons. Special teams stepped up when needed as Marquise Blair recovered a fumble on a fake punt by Atlanta in the third quarter. Michael Dickson did a nice job of flipping the field punting the football and Jason Myers was 100 percent on the day as well.
New England (1-0) kicked off the Cam Newton era with a methodical 21-11 win over the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was able to put Newton in a position to succeed on a consistent basis against the Miami defense. Newton completed 15 of 19 passes for 155 yards and also ran for 75 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. The Patriots held on to the football for more than 34 minutes, which is going to be a big part of the recipe for success this season. The defense limited the Dolphins to just 269 yards and picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick three times. Stopping the run was another reason why New England picked up the victory, holding Miami to just 87 yards on 27 attempts (3.2 yards per carry).
New England at Seattle
Kickoff: Sunday, Sept. 20 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Spread: Seahawks -4.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Cam Newton vs. Russell Wilson
These two guys are very familiar with each other as the Seahawks saw Newton plenty of times from his days in Carolina. Seattle has a 6-2 record against Newton since the 2012 season. Wilson has the deeper group of skill position players with Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf at wide receiver, Greg Olsen, Will Dissly, and Jacob Hollister at tight end, and Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde leading the way in the backfield. Wilson and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer should be able to attack the Patriots' defense from all areas of the field. Newton doesn't have the depth of talent at the skill positions to work with like Wilson does as Julian Edelman and running back James White are his most reliable targets. N'Keal Harry is a guy that needs to take a big step forward in his second season to help Newton out. It will be very fascinating to see how head coach Bill Belichick and the offensive staff approach this game with Newton in what will be a very quiet environment. Consequently, it's going to boil down to execution by both quarterbacks and avoiding the catastrophic mistake.
2. Seahawks' defense
The physicality of the Seattle defense was very noticeable last Sunday as Jamal Adams set the tone by flying all over the field from all angles. That mindset will have to carry over as they can expect a healthy dose of the running game by New England with Sony Michel and Newton on designed quarterback runs to challenge that physicality. Fans will need to keep a close on the battle between the Patriots' offensive line and the Seahawks' defensive line as that will go a long way towards deciding this game. Julian Edelman will need to be kept in check by the Seahawks' secondary as he always causes problems for them. Shaquill Griffin, Quinton Dunbar, and Quandre Diggs should be able to play more aggressively this week and force Newton to beat them with his arm by making him throw at least 30 passes.
3. Coaching battle
Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll are two of the best in the business at getting their teams ready to play on a weekly basis. It should not come as a surprise that both coaches had their teams ready to play in Week 1 without having any preseason games. Carroll has a 2-1 record against the Patriots during his time in Seattle. Meanwhile, Belichick is 3-2 against the Seahawks, including a win in Super Bowl XLIX. Their styles are obviously different with Carroll bringing a lot more outward energy to the table every single day from the practice field all the way up until game day. On the other hand, Belichick doesn't say much when dealing with the media and is all about winning and everyone simply doing their job. Both styles have worked at a high level for Carroll and Belichick and should result in a fun chess match for 60 minutes in front of a national television audience.
This is going to be a fiercely competitive battle between these two proud franchises. The Seahawks have a more dynamic offense which will leave them in a better position to come from behind against the Patriots, if necessary. Wilson will throw for about 275 yards and Seattle will run the ball for about 130 or so with Carson and Hyde leading the charge. It will be important for the defense will have to survive the first couple of series against the Newton-led New England offense. The Seahawks should hang in, even if they take an early punch or two, and eventually wear down the Patriots in the second half thanks to their offense.
Prediction: Seahawks 27, Patriots 20
— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @ScottWhittum.