Last weekend was awesome.
But as Lou Brown might say, “Don’t ever &%$#@*& do it again.”
Watching new Patriots quarterback Cam Newton amass 75 yards on the ground over 15 carries turned out to be an electric way for New England to begin its first season in the post-Brady era. But based on Newton’s injury history in recent years, another such approach against the Seattle Seahawks, and you might as well plan on watching Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer the rest of the way this season.
That and, well, you would assume that another opponent would react, at least in part, to the Patriots’ gameplan at some point during the game. Unlike the Miami Dolphins.
It was nice of the NFL schedule makers to give the Patriots an exhibition game in a slate without a preseason. For any excitement that was born from New England’s 21-11 victory had to be somewhat tempered by the level of opponent. That’s not the case this weekend when the Patriots head to Seattle to take on the Seahawks, albeit sans Man No. 12.
Maybe there’s a similar game plan in place for the Seahawks, where the Patriots will pound the ball on the ground and eat up the clock, better to keep the ball out of Russell Wilson’s hands. Against Seattle’s stalwart defense, that would be quite the accomplishment.
Maybe Bill Belichick will unleash Newton’s arm, perhaps the most underrated aspect of last week’s win (his four incompletions included a Julian Edelman drop, two batted at the line of scrimmage, and a throwaway). Hell, maybe Newton will finally make something of N’Keal Harry beginning Sunday night.
Just don’t expect it to look anything like it did against Miami. Nor should you want it to.
This week’s predictions
Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Seahawks 27, Patriots 20. “Patriots in Sunday prime time tells you the perfume is still on New England, even post-Brady. Pats coasted past Miami last week but Cam Newton won’t find the run-pass option as easy vs. SEA. Nor will Pats’ D find it nearly as easy to contain Russell Wilson, et. al. Hawks lose much of home edge sans fans, but they’re still the better team. Yonder comes a reality check for Bill Belichick in his new era.”
Benjamin Hoffman, New York Times: Patriots (+3.5). “The Patriots (1-0) and Seahawks (1-0) had plenty of reasons to be happy in Week 1, but if you’re looking to nitpick: while New England’s multipronged running game looked great, the team showed very little ability to air the ball out against Miami’s solid secondary. And Seattle seemed to take the doughnut off the bat in terms of letting quarterback Russell Wilson create his own momentum on offense, but Coach Pete Carroll likely would have preferred for running backs Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde to combine for more than 44 yards rushing (and for either to average more than 3.5 yards per carry). Both teams may look to correct those deficiencies this week. Seattle is rightfully the favorite at home, but Cam Newton bought his team some credibility last week and New England’s secondary is a tough nut for anyone to crack. A close game, or even an upset, wouldn’t be entirely shocking.”
MMQB staff: Five out of six like the Seahawks.
ESPN staff: All Seahawks.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Seahawks 28, Patriots 17. “The Patriots impressed in beating the Dolphins at home, but this is a big step up in competition. Russell Wilson was sensational in the opener against the Falcons. That will carry over against a Patriots defense that is just OK. Look for Wilson to carve up the Patriots here.”
CBS Sports staff: Seven out of eight pick Seattle (-4). Seven out of eight also pick the Seahawks straight-up.
Jimmy Kempski, Philly Voice: Seahawks (-4): “If Seattle has figured out (like, three years after the rest of us) that they should be a pass-heavy team, seeing as they have a top 3 quarterback, then the rest of the NFC is in trouble. I’m very mad at myself for picking Drew Brees as my MVP in our predictions post over Russell Wilson. On a side note, while we’re subjected to Bengals-Browns on Thursday night, this is an interesting matchup on Sunday Night Football.”
Joe Giglio, NJ.com: Seattle (-4). “Cam Newton’s Patriots debut (15-of-19 through the air; 75 yards rushing) was very promising, but wasn’t in the same stratosphere as what Russell Wilson did (31-of-35, 322 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT) to the Falcons. New England is going to be a chore to beat, even without Tom Brady. But this long trip vs. the best quarterback in the NFC is a tall task.”
Michael Hurley, CBS Boston: Seahawks (-4). “Man, the Cam Newton era is FUN. But the Seattle Seahawks may make it less so. Jamal Adams looked like he kicked off a Defensive Player of the Year type of season last week, and the Seahawks should be coached a little bit better than a Dolphins team that managed to lay out the red carpet for Cam every time he ran last week.”
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Seahawks 23, Patriots 20. “Cam Newton had a solid debut running for the Patriots. Russell Wilson had another spectacular start passing for the Seahawks. Both teams have solid secondaries to keep the downfield shots in check, but Wilson is equipped with a more reliable running game and better, deep wide receivers. You can also bet old AFC East foe Jamal Adams will want to keep making an impact for Seattle with New England in his new town. The Seahawks won’t have the normal crowd noise behind them, but it’s still a long trip for a Patriots team still figuring out things offensively. Pete Carroll gets the better of Bill Belichick in another close one for these teams, only with no Super Bowl on the line.”
Tadd Haislop, Sporting News: Seahawks 28, Patriots 24. “The is the first real test for the Patriots’ new offense with Cam Newton, and the NFL scheduling gods give it to us in a primetime spot on national TV. The Seahawks will present the Patriots new challenges on that side of the ball, but we all know Bill Belichick’s bunch will do the same to Russell Wilson. Seattle is fortunate that its quarterback is known for adjusting on the fly and leveraging his many talents to squeak out wins.”
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Seahawks 27, Patriots 20. “While Russ cooked, Cam baked. Although the Seahawks may not be the same without the 12th Man present, the scheduling of this game in Week Two gives the team with continuity the edge, as the Patriots get their first taste of trying to get Cam to overcome adversity.”
Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Seahawks 30, Patriots 17. “Russell Wilson looked outstanding in Week One, and if Seattle keeps letting him cook, I think he’s going to be tough for anyone, including the strong Patriots Defense, to stop.”
FiveThirtyEight: 58 percent Seattle (-2.5)
Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Seahawks 27, Patriots 19. “Even in a best-case Patriots season (11-5?), this looks like one of those losses. Their offense will take time to build up its passing concepts. They had incredible turnover in defensive personnel up front and have completely transformed their offense. The Seahawks, meanwhile, are locked and loaded from the jump like a team with a top-three quarterback and excellent supporting cast should be. Pats fans know well what those teams look like.”
NFL Pickwatch: Eighty-seven percent are going with the Seahawks.
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