It's not too often that the No. 1 offense in the NFL faces off with the No. 1 defense. Sunday's Patriots-Seahawks game provides a clash of styles for two 3-2 teams in Week 6.
Here are some things watch for:
1) The Patriots are light on defense right now -- With Steve Gregory out again with a hip injury and linebackers Dont'a Hightower (hamstring) and Tracy White (foot) hurting, the team will be forced to rely on Tavon Wilson at safety and likely linebacker Bobby Carpenter in base packages. Last week, when White was hurt against the Denver Broncos, the team remained in its sub packages for the rest of the game rather than sub in the newly re-signed Carpenter. We'll see how much that's changed with a week of preparation and how the team handles Seattle's fifth ranked rushing offense led by Marshawn Lynch (508 yards).
2) Any punishment for Brandon Spikes, Wes Welker? -- Spikes' poor attempt at humor on Twitter was much discussed through the week. The Patriots declined to comment on what repercussions, if any, that Spikes would suffer. We'll see if he's in the lineup at the start of today's game and whether or not he'll sit for a couple of series. The same can be said of Welker, who tweaked Belichick after Sunday's game in a TV interview for Comcast SportsNet New England.
3) How much will noise be a factor? -- And will it affect the Patriots' no-huddle offense? Against the Broncos, the Patriots were able to turn up the tempo and run up and down the field on an out-of-position defense. By all accounts, Seattle's CenturyLink Field is the loudest stadium in the NFL. The Patriots are known to work with one word plays in their no-huddle offense, but say they can also call plays with even more limited communication. We'll likely see what that means today.
4) How good is the Seahawks' defense? -- Defensive end Chris Clemons has recorded 27.5 sacks since 2010, tied for sixth best in the NFL. His 5.5 sacks are also good for sixth best in the league this season. Add in rookie linebacker Bobby Wagner in the middle, abnormally tall corners Richard Sherman (6-3) and Brandon Browner (6-4), and you have mix of players that cause matchup problems for the Patriots. It's always interesting to see how the Patriots play teams in which they don't necessarily have the upper hand. This game will be a good measure of the team's No. 1 ranked offense and the unit's overall progression.