The Seahawks’ No. 1-ranked defense vs. the Patriots’ No. 1-ranked offense: Does it get any better than this? The Seahawks’ defense is allowing averages of 10.8 points and 258.6 yards – and has yielded 19 points in two home games. The Patriots’ offense is averaging 31.6 points and 439.4 yards – and has scored 52 and 30 points in two road games. In addition to handling everything QB Tom Brady can throw at them – and the Patriots’ No. 8-ranked ground game can run at them – the Seahawks will have to deal with the tempo of the New England offense. In addition to all the heat rush-ends Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin can apply – and the disruptive presences of Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane, and the long-limbed coverage supplied by Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman – the Patriots will have to deal with the din generated by the 12th Man crowd.
One to watch
The scoreboard: The Patriots have scored a league-high 165 points. The Seahawks’ defense has allowed 54 points. The Patriots have scored at least 30 points in four of their games. The Seahawks’ defense has allowed 12 or fewer points in four of their games. The Patriots are outscoring opponents 37-9 in the first quarter. The Seahawks have limited their opponents to six first-quarter points. Obviously something has to give.
Fun to watch
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch vs. Patriots linebackers Jarod Mayo and Brandon Spikes: The forecast calls for rain and wind on Sunday afternoon. So those conditions call for a steady supply of the Seahawks’ Beast Mode-back. Stopping Lynch, who is the NFL’s leading rusher since Week 9 of last season, is more than a two-man task. But Mayo is the Patriots’ leading tackler and Spikes has been talking this week about how much he is anticipating his run-ins with Lynch. The Patriots are limiting opponents to 82.2 rushing yards per game and 3.4 yards per carry. Lynch is averaging 101.6 yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry.
One tough task
Patriots’ tackles Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer vs. Seahawks defensive ends Bryant, Clemons and Irvin: Clemons’ relentlessness is a constant, but the switch from the 330-pound Bryant to the 248-pound Irvin when the Seahawks go from their base to the nickel can be confounding – especially for young tackles playing in the noise factory that is CenturyLink Field. Solder, a first-round draft choice last year, has moved to left tackle this season. Vollmer, a second-round pick in 2009, played in only six games last season because of injuries and is listed as question for Sunday after being limited in practice this week because of back and knee injuries. Brady already has been sacked 12 times, and the last time the Seahawks played at home they had eight first-half sacks – including four from Clemons and two from Irvin.
Brady has thrown a touchdown pass in 37 consecutive games, the third-longest streak in NFL history behind the Saints’ Drew Brees (48) and Colts Hall of Fame QB Johnny Unitas (47). Former Seahawks QB Dave Krieg is No. 6 on the list at 28, a streak that ran from 1983-85. … Brady needs one more 300-yard passing game to tie Moon (49) for No. 7 on the league’s all-time list. … Brady has a 17-3 career record on the road against NFC teams, but this will be his first game in Seattle because he was injured when the Patriots played here in 2008. … Patriots’ wide receiver Wes Welker has had at least eight receptions and 100 yards in the past three games, and he caught 12 passes for 134 yards in the Patriots’ 24-21 victory in Seattle in ’08. … Lynch leads the NFC in rushing with 508 yards, and has at least 85 yards in 13 of his past 14 games. In his past seven homes games, Lynch has rushed for 810 yards and six touchdowns. … Mayo leads the Patriots with 52 tackles and Spikes is second with 41. … Linebacker K.J. Wright leads the Seahawks with 34 tackles, two more than strong safety Kam Chancellor.