(CBS)- The Patriots find themselves in an unusual position this Sunday, entering their prime-time matchup with the Seattle Seahawks as underdogs. It’s the first time since Week 1 of 2016, when Tom Brady was serving a four-game suspension, that the Patriots have not been listed as the favorites in a game.
“Seattle in prime-time, Russell Wilson, he usually gets the cash. 72% of the time they have covered in prime-time and 80% when they are laying three or more points,” said Hartstein. “So a very good bet under the lights.”
Wilson has found success against the Patriots in the regular season during his career, winning both matchups and throwing for 641 yards and six touchdowns in the process. But, there is that small matter of the Super Bowl, in which the Patriots were able to pick Wilson off at the goal line.
History has to be thrown aside a bit in this game, however, as the Patriots are a vastly different team this time around. Gone is Brady, in is Cam Newton and with him, an offense focused on controlling the clock and punishing opponents on the ground.
“This is how they want to play with Cam Newton. They want to run the ball they want to control the clock. And you know what? They used 33 seconds on average of the play clock,” said Hartstein. “They want to slow the game down, save that defense, run the ball. And they’re going to keep doing that.”
That strategy worked like clockwork in a Week 1 win over the Dolphins, with Newton tallying a pair of rushing touchdowns in a 21-11 win. It’s a style of play that the Seahawks are used to, having been known as a run-first team in previous year. But, that style was out the window in their opener as the ‘Hawks threw 35 times and running just 20 in a 38-25 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
However, Hartstein sees that ratio coming back to Earth a bit in this matchup, as the Patriots provide a much stiffer test in the secondary.
“Russell Wilson 31 of 35, the Falcons secondary had no answers and in fact were not even near a lot of the receivers that caught those 31 passes, but I think they’ll be a little more balanced, because the Patriots secondary is well above average, and Seattle does have an identity of running the ball,” said Hartstein.
If that balance comes to fruition, this could be a fast-moving, low-scoring affair which has Hartstein looking at the under play.
“Given that the Patriots are going to stick to that identity, and I think the Seahawks get back to being balanced, I would look at the under 45 here on Sunday Night Football,” said Hartstein.
The Patriots are listed as four-point underdogs entering Sunday night’s affair. Kickoff is slated for 8:20 p.m. Eastern Time.
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