Seattle Seahawks (5-2-1 SU, 4-4 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (7-1 SU, 7-1 ATS)
NFL Week 10
Date/Time: Sunday November 13th at 8:30 PM EST
Where: Gillette Stadium
by Mike M, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread:SEA+7 / NE-7
The Seattle Seahawks travel across the country to take on the New England Patriots in a Sunday night showdown between two teams with a good shot of playing each other again in the Super Bowl at years end. This weeks game will be the first time they have met since the legendary Super Bowl XLIX that New England won 28-24 after Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson in the endzone with seconds remaining to cement the championship for the Patriots.
Wilson has never missed time due to injury and has started every game for the Seahawks since being drafted back in 2012, but has had an uncharacteristic year thus far as he has been slowed by multiple maladies suffered this season, first to his knee against San Francisco in week three followed by a right pectoral issue due to a hit taken versus Arizona in week seven. The injury to the knee has been problematic throughout the year and has limited Wilsons ability to scramble and make plays on the run, which is one of his best attributes as a quarterback, and through 2016 so far is averaging less than 7 rushing yards per game, far below his usual average of 38 per. No matter how much he has suffered though the gutsy quarterback shows no signs of letting the pain prevent him from leading his team, though it would go a long way toward helping him and the offense if the Seahawks backfield could finally find some stability.
Originally slated starting running back Thomas Rawls is due back soon after a fractured fibula put him on the shelf back in mid-October, though its not like he was lighting the league on fire beforehand after rushing for 25 yards on 19 carries with no touchdowns before the shin shot sidelined him. Christine Michael appeared to be a strong replacement for Rawls but has struggled the last couple of weeks, culminating against Buffalo this past Monday when he had only 1 yard on 5 carries and ended up getting less snaps than rookie C.J. Prosise. Head coach Pete Carroll stated this week that Prosise will play a lot against New England this weekend, meaning those with Michael on their fantasy roster would be wise to look elsewhere for help as the playoff race begins to heat up in most leagues.
Another Seahawks player coming back from injury is star safety Kam Chancellor, who has missed the last four games due to a groin injury. The Seahawks have been outgained in yards in each of the games that Chancellor was out, including by 186 in their 6-6 tie against Arizona and by 147 in last weeks 31-25 nail-biter against the Bills. While a player of Chancellors caliber is always difficult to replace, Seattle fans will be particularly glad to have him back this week after watching backup Kelcie McCray struggle mightily in even attempting to fill the Kam void, especially with Tom Brady and the vaunted Patriots offense waiting for them on Sunday night.
Through four games played this year, including three on the road, Brady has completed 73% of his passes for 1,319 yards (340 per) and a TD-INT ratio of 12/0. His quarterback rating of 133.9 is easily the highest in the league, with Matt Ryan (119) and Drew Brees (106.7) the closest at a far distance behind. His options remain in abundance, especially with the return of Rob Gronkowski to the team coinciding with own, as their star tight end already has 10 plays of 20 yards or more, which ranks 7th in the NFL is even more so impressive considering that he missed half the season due to injury. If those two, the trio of Edelman/Amendola/Hogan and an already talented backfield werent enough, the final injured piece of the teams offensive puzzle could be returning this week, with 2015 breakout Dion Lewis possibly back for the Seattle game.
LeGarrette Blount will still remain the leader of the Patriots backfield (and also still remains the only Patriots player to score a rushing touchdown this year other then the one Jacoby Brissett had back in week three) and is currently second in the NFL in touchdowns with 9 and is eight in yards per game with 76.1. Lewis will form a backfield receiving tandem with James White, who ranks third on team with 29 receptions on the season so far, with undrafted rookie free agent D.J. Foster rounding out the backs and Brandon Bolden the likely odd man out after decreased performance and playing time has continued to plague his season.
The biggest headline for New England during their bye week was the sudden and shocking trade of star linebacker Jamie Collins to the Cleveland Browns for a conditional 3rd round pick. He was one of three key defensive free agents the team had on tap for after the season was over along with Malcolm Butler and Donta Hightower, and while the initial reaction of most fans was a stunned confusion, details have come out since that paint a reasonable picture of why they felt that getting rid of Collins when they did was truly in the teams best interest. His snap counts in recent weeks had been dropping and they were concerned the idea of reducing him to a part time player would cause issues in the locker room, especially with it being a contract year for Collins. Game film showed that he would at times go rouge and not follow the assigned game plan, which left the team open for big plays and was something that happened early against Buffalo and led to a big play for the Bills, in what was his last game as a Patriot. And while a 3rd round pick may not seem like much, they were not at all guaranteed the same caliber of pick in return in compensatory form if they had lost Collins to free agency, especially considering how much cap space they have for 2017, as the more they spent and players they signed the less of a pick they would receive in return.
While it is never wise to base any wager on trends, there are two that are usually telling toward the outcome in such a game that are clearly in the Patriots favor. The first is how they both do in games against teams with a winning record, as New England is 4-1 against the spread in their last five, while Seattle has only covered 3 times in their last 12 in the same situation. Second is how the teams play after a win, with the Patriots coming in at 5-1 against the number and the Seahawks just 2-6 in their last eight. New England is also coming off of a bye week, and home teams in the NFL are 10-2 this year in games played after their week off. If Wilson can get back to full health and the defense keeps playing at their usual high level it would be more of a surprise than not if the Seahawks werent at least playing for a Super Bowl berth during the NFL Championship Weekend at the end of January. For this weekend though, I dont see them getting past a Tom Brady led Patriots team coming off of a bye week that gives coach Bill Belichick an extra week to prepare for the talented but still not 100% healthy Russell Wilson. And if your line goes to 7.5, buy the half point, which should hopefully go without saying anytime facing a point spread of 7.5 or 14.5
Readers may have seen the below in my Notre Dame vs. Army preview, but it is a message worth repeating not only this weekend but everyday of the year. With Veterans Day on Friday, a sincere thank you goes out to any and all current and former members of the United States Armed Forces, thank you for all you have done and continue to do. God Bless America.
Mike Ms Pick to Cover the Point Spread: New England -7
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