Ignore the noise
It's Bill Belichick's motto for the New England Patriots, insisting his team drown out any semblance of controversy, criticism, or just plain made up story lines for the sake of discussion points, from the outside. Media. Fans. The women at the bake shop where Vince Wilfork gets his morning croissants. All of it.
It will be interesting to see this week how both Belichick and his team ignore the noise. One, will the coach punish Wes Welker for his joking comment about "sticking it" in his coach's face? Does he want to send a message to the rest of the team about "that's not how we handle things here?" If he does, it's downright petty.
More importantly is how the Patriots handle the noise at CenturyLink Field on Sunday. As easy as it is to roll our eyes about the crowd being a legitimate factor (maybe too many afternoons at laissez-faire Gillette), everyone who has been there will tell you how massive an advantage it is.
If Bill wants his players to ignore the noise, let's hope he does too.
This week's picks:
Peter King, Sports Illustrated: Seahawks 27, Patriots 24. "Tom Brady's first, and probably last, trip to Seattle to play football ends in disappointment. Bruce Irvin's the reason. This is going to be a speed game, with the Patriots continuing to race to lead the league in offensive plays, and Irvin, the fastest speed-rusher in football, will have the advantage of playing in the cacophonous CenturyLink Field. The last time the Seahawks played at home, the Green Bay line couldn't handle the speed of the Seattle defense and the noise, and eight first-half sacks resulted. Not saying it'll be the same here, but the Patriots will struggle blocking the speed demons, led by Irvin, rushing for Seattle."
Globe staff: Four out of five pick the Patriots.
ESPN.com staff: Nine out of 11 pick the Patriots.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 23, Seahawks 13. "The Seahawks are the top defense in the NFL right now, but the Patriots have the top-ranked offense. Something has to give here. Seattle's corners are tough on the outside, but the Patriots aren't an outside passing team. I like what they can do in the middle of the field. The New England line is playing great football. It continues. The Patriots will throw a lot at Russell Wilson."
CBS Sports staff: Five out of eight pick New England (Seattle + 3 ½).
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 23, Seahawks 13. "The Seahawks have an excellent defense - powerful up front, big, fast and rangy in the back. Their crowd also will play a big factor here. But let's stay simple: The combination of Belichick and Tom Brady trumps Carroll and rookie Russell Wilson."
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 27, Seahawks 17. "After the Seahawks beat the Cowboys by 20, I said I'd never pick against the Seahawks at home again. But I hadn't looked at the schedule. The Pats won there in 2008, without Tom Brady. With him, the Pats will run their all-time record at CenturyLink Field to 2-0."
Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 28, Seahawks 18. "I'm having a hard time getting a read on either of these teams. Are the Patriots the team that turned in a disappointing effort at home against the Cardinals, or the team whose offense has been all but unstoppable against the Bills and Broncos? Are the Seahawks the team that dominated Dallas or the team whose offense could hardly move the ball at all in their other four games? I don't know, but I think the Patriots' offense is good enough to put a lot of points on the board against a good Seattle defense."
Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Patriots 27, Seahawks 23. "Another legit Game of the Week nominee, with Patriots putting that big, great offense up against a Seahawks defense that is terrific. Seattle also is a different (better) team at home. Upset watch here, but I can't not like an English attack that has Tom Brady AND averages 165 yards on the ground. By the way, anybody remember that Pete Carroll was Pats head coach in 1997-99? (Anybody care?)"
USA Today staff: Six out of seven pick the Pats.
Yahoo! sports staff: Three out of four go with New England.
Peter Schrager, Foxsports.com: Patriots 27, Seahawks 16. "Once upon a time, Pete Carroll was the coach of the New England Patriots. And once upon a time, there was concern around the Patriots running game. Both feel like forever ago. New England's ground attack has been the best untold story of the season. The Patriots have run for 200 yards in each of the last two weeks, the first time they've done that since 1978. They'll get the ground game going early and Brady will notch a victory over another mid-round quarterback in Russell Wilson on Sunday."
It says here: Patriots 27, Seahawks 17: Noise. Pfft.