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BOSTON (CBS) – The Patriots will take on the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday for just the third time since 1993, making them a team Bill Belichick and crew aren’t that familiar with.
“It’s a team that we don’t know very well. It’s a team with a lot of new players (that are) young. They’re young but they’re good,” Belichick said on a conference call on Tuesday. “They’re talented and we’re going to really have to work hard this week to get familiar with their schemes and their players to be able to do a good job against them.”
While their offensive numbers are extremely underwhelming, the Seahawks sit at 3-2 on the season. They rank 31st in the NFL in passing offense behind rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, and their 17.2 points per game also sits at the bottom of the league, coming in at 28th.
But the Seahawks run the ball among the best in the NFL. Marshawn Lynch has 508 yards on the ground, rushing for 85 yards or more in each of Seattle’s five games so far. As a team, the Seahawks average 140.2 rush yards per contest, good for seventh in the NFL.
Lynch picks up most of the yards after being hit, as Belichick noted on Tuesday.
“Lynch is outstanding. He has great feet, good balance, he’s a powerful guy. There are times where he does get tackled but a lot of times it’s with three or four extra yards because of his good pad level and his ability to maintain his leg drive through contact and by the time the defender gets him on the ground, it’s an extra two to three yards that Lynch has created on his own,” said Belichick. “Absolutely, he’s one of the best.”
And while Wilson has struggled in the passing game, with five touchdowns and six interceptions, he isn’t afraid to take off on the ground either.
“Wilson is an active, mobile guy that’s a hard guy to contain. He keeps a lot of plays alive with his scrambling and athletic ability,” said Belichick. “They run plenty of quarterback movement plays with him – bootleg and rollout plays and things like that.”
While the offense struggles though, the Seattle defense is atop the league under head coach Pete Carroll. They allow a league-best 258.6 yards per game, including just 66 yards on the ground. They have allowed just 14 points per game, and have already racked up 16 sacks.
But the D is much more than sacks and holding opponents off the board.
“It’s not just sacks. A bunch of three-and-outs, which they have a lot of those,” said Belichick. They also do a real good job of stripping the ball away from quarterbacks, running backs, receivers — anybody who has it. They’re fast and they’re long.”
And as Belichick’s favorite phrase goes, the Seahawks do it in all phases of the game.
“I’d say the things that really jump out are their overall playmaking ability (in the) kicking game – they return kicks, they block them, they cover them, they’re leading the league in kickoff returns, leading the league in kickoff coverage,” he said. “They really have a lot of players that are very impact-type guys in the kicking game with good specialists.”
One situation the Patriots won’t be able to control is the crowd noise at Qwest Field, which is among the best in the NFL.
“I think it might be the loudest stadium that we’ve been in and we’re in a lot of loud ones. I’ll put that one right up there. Their fans are vocal, it’s really loud,” said Belichick. “When we were out there before, four years ago, their record was 2-10, it wasn’t very good and there was a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm; a great atmosphere for football. The crowd is totally into it. They do a great job of being loud, causing false start penalties and things like that on the offense. Seattle has historically played very well at home. It’s a huge home field advantage for them.”
That could wreak havoc on the Patriots stellar no-huddle offense, so offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is expecting plenty of loud practices this week at Gillette Stadium.
“It never disappoints in terms of how loud and how vocal they’re going to be,” McDaniels said of Seattle Fans. “I think it’s a great environment to play in and certainly for us on offense it will be important for us to do a good job of communicating and paying attention to all of the little details, so that we make sure that we can work together and try to execute our assignments the best we can. Certainly they make it difficult, but I think that the best way for us to do that is to practice with the noise here and do the best we can here; focus on our assignments and our execution and hopefully go out there and play well. If we do that we give ourselves the best chance to be successful.”
This will be Tom Brady’s first trip out to Seattle, as he missed the Patriots 24-21 win in 2008. The Patriots have an overall record of 5-4 under Belichick in games played on the West Coast.
Tune in to the Sunday’s Patriots-Seahawks game at 4pm on 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ-TV. Patriots GameDay kicks of WBZ’s coverage at 11:30am, with 98.5′s Patriots Preview beginning at 1pm. Following the game, tune in to 3-hours of post game coverage on The Sports Hub, and Patriots 5th Quarter over on MyTV38!