By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Last week, during the nationally broadcast Sunday night game, a promo ran for this week’s Sunday night game. It featured Malcolm Butler’s goal line interception, Tom Brady’s reaction of shocked disbelief, and Kam Chancellor defending Rob Gronkowski in a dramatic regular-season conclusion in 2016.
It was a fun promo, but of course, none of those players will be involved when the Patriots and Seahawks meet up on Sunday evening in Seattle.
While the logos on the helmets will look the same and while the head coaches are still Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick, the players on both rosters have turned over several times since 2014 and even since their Super Bowl rematch in 2016. Even the Patriots’ jerseys have changed.
For the Patriots, Sunday night’s game presents a rather large challenge — at least one larger than a home date vs. the Dolphins in Week 1. The Seahawks are coming off an 11-5 season, and they won convincingly on the road in Atlanta last weekend. They’re well-coached and well-prepared, and they’re never short on energy. Coming away with a win in Seattle — even without the crowd noise factor — won’t be easy.
Did you know that Russell Wilson had the Twitter account “@DangeRussWilson” for years before I understood that it was a play on the word “dangerous”? I thought it was just “Danger Russ Wilson” and I truly did not understand. What a huge dummy I am, huh?
Russell Wilson is very dangerous, as the 31-year-old remains elusive, creative, and unrelenting as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
“Honestly I think he’s, you know, in a way, maybe underrated by the media or the fans,” Bill Belichick said of Wilson this week. “I don’t know. But, I mean, I don’t really see anybody better than this player.”
That’s high praise.
Wilson was nearly perfect last week, completing 31 of his 35 passes for 322 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also broke off a 28-yard run to set up his second touchdown pass of the day.
Wilson is a mobile quarterback, yes, but there’s really no other quarterback quite like him. With his deep-ball ability, his willingness to run around forever to make something happen, and his overall command and comfort in the offense, Wilson will put the Patriots’ defense to the test in a way that Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t quite reach a week ago.
Jamal Adams Is Everywhere
If you watched any of Seattle’s Week 1 win in Atlanta, then you no doubt saw their prized acquisition running wild all over the football field.
Jamal Adams — acquired in a trade from the Jets — put all of his formerly disgruntled energy into being an all-around menace in his Seahawks debut. Stats-wise, it showed, as he recorded a team-high 12 tackles (with a team-high eight tackles). Two of those tackles went for a loss (one was a sack), and he also hit the quarterback once more.
It was a simply menacing performance.
Considering Adams has played exactly one game with Seattle, it will be awfully difficult for the Patriots to try to prepare for him. He doesn’t have any tendencies, and if last week was any indication, he’s going to be an unpredictable type of player for every opponent.
That being said, Adams may have made Seattle slightly vulnerable in the passing game, as Matt Ryan put up 450 passing yards. But the big-play potential that Adams provides every snap could lead to some game-changing moments against the Patriots.
Metcalf v. Harry
The NFL Draft is a crapshoot. Even for the most brilliant football minds in the world, forecasting the future of college players at the NFL level is at its very core an elaborate guessing game. Sometimes you’re made to look like a genius, other times you’re made to look like a fool.
And in the case of the Patriots and Seahawks, they’re going to be linked for quite some time when it comes to the wide receivers they drafted in 2019.
The Patriots, as you know, selected N’Keal Harry out of Arizona State with the 32nd overall pick at the end of the first round. The Seahawks drafted the big-bodied D.K. Metcalf out of Ole miss with the final pick of the second round, No. 64 overall. (Five other wide receivers were drafted between Harry and Metcalf, so its’ not as if the Patriots were the only team to pass on Metcalf’s potential.)
Thus far in the production department, Metcalf has by far been the better player than Harry.
Metcalf has 62 receptions for 995 yards and eight touchdowns on his stats page already, having played the 16th game of his career last weekend. He also has 11 receptions for 219 yards and a touchdown in his two playoff games.
Harry has 17 receptions for 144 yards and two touchdowns in just eight games played. He had two catches for 21 yards in his lone postseason game.
They’ll be compared forever. And how each player performs in this one particular game will only be one small chapter in that story.
But during the game, you can expect to see some split-screens, some comparisons, and some analysis during the broadcast. After last weekend’s goal-line fumble, a big game from Harry could go a long way in building some momentum for him to have the season he needs to have in year two.
New Week, New Offense?
Last week, the Patriots simplified things and ran up and down the field against a helpless Dolphins defense. By the end of it, the Patriots racked up 217 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns on 42 carries. That was more rushing yards in a single game than the Patriots had all of last season. Clearly, with a powerful Cam Newton in the backfield, Josh McDaniels’ offense has changed significantly.
But the Patriots are famous for being a gameplanning team, meaning they don’t do the same thing every week. They adapt their plans and play calls based on their opponent. And looking at Seattle, we may end up seeing Newton’s throwing arm featured more than his legs this weekend.
As previously mentioned, Matt Ryan managed to throw for a preposterous 450 yards last Sunday. No team in the NFL allowed more passing yards than the Seahawks did. In fact, no team even came close: the Vikings surrendered the second-most passing yards, getting carved up by Aaron Rodgers for 364 yards.
Considering Newton put forth a very efficient passing performance last weekend (15-for-19, 155 yards, would have had a touchdown if not for Harry’s fumble), this may be an opportunity for McDaniels to roll out an offense that looks hardly comparable to the one that bulldozed the Dolphins last week.
BONUS: Road Whites
Last week marked the debut of the Patriots’ new jerseys, but not really. Those home blue get-ups were pretty close to matching the jerseys the team wore as alternates since 2016.
But this weekend, on national TV, we’ll all get our first look at the new road whites.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 20, 2020
Whenever a team shows off new jersey designs, the internet always reacts negatively. The narrative can change once they’re seen in game action, though. We’ll see Sunday night how this new design looks under the bright lights of Sunday night.