THE STORY: The New England Patriots have found a pounding rushing attack to go along with Tom Brady and the rest of the offense. That has led to 83 points in the last two games. The Seattle Seahawks own the No. 3 rushing defense in the league and have shown a tendency to pull games out late. The Seahawks might not be as explosive offensively as New England but they have yet to lose at home and are allowing an average of only 14.0 points. The Patriots’ weakness defensively has been against the pass, which matches up nicely against Seattle’s inability to throw the ball. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson and the offense are averaging 147 yards through the air, better only than the Jacksonville Jaguars. That has put more pressure on running back Marshawn Lynch, who is averaging over 100 yards per game.
TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Patriots -3.5, O/U 44.5
ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (3-2): New England leads the league in scoring and is averaging 165.4 yards on the ground behind Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden. The Patriots have gone over 200 yards rushing in back-to-back games for the first time since 1978 and used the ground game along with Brady’s passing to set a franchise record with 35 first downs in a 31-21 win over the Denver Broncos last week. While the offense looks to be on par with the record-setting 2007 unit, the biggest change to the team this season has been in the front seven on defense, where New England is now getting to the quarterback and stopping the run. The Patriots are tied for the league lead with nine forced fumbles and are getting younger on that side of the ball with three rookies in crucial roles.
ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (3-2): Seattle has the personnel to disrupt Brady and the passing game, with big cornerbacks on the outside. Rookie Bruce Irvin leads NFL rookies with 4.5 sacks and the Seahawks are tied for fifth in the NFL with 16 sacks. The defense has kept the team in games long enough for Wilson to find some magic in the final seconds. He led a pair of scoring drives in the second half at Carolina last week before the defense closed out the 16-12 victory. Seattle is 2-0 at home and has allowed a total of 19 points at CenturyLink Field. Keeping Brady and company off the field for as long as possible will be up to Wilson and Lynch. Wilson has been picked off six times in five games, with five of those interceptions coming in the last two contests.
1. The Patriots are 38-11 against NFC teams under coach Bill Belichick, including a 24-21 victory at Seattle on Dec. 7, 2008. Matt Cassel was at quarterback for New England in that one.
2. NFC West teams are 10-0 at home this season. NFC West teams have gone 4-0 against the AFC East, including the Arizona Cardinals beating the Patriots in Week 2.
3. New England TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle) has missed the last three weeks but has been practicing. He is listed as questionable.
PREDICTION: Patriots 24, Seahawks 14
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