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The Patriots Are Excellent Defending the Big Play

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In a battle of strengths, the Patriots look to take down the Seahawks deep passing attack.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

It's a little known fact about the Seattle Seahawks, but they're one of the most dangerous passing teams in the league. You wouldn't know it, because quarterback Russell Wilson doesn't post gaudy numbers as a passer, but they're dangerous.

When you think of Seahawks Offense, it's easy to be drawn to Marshawn Lynch, after all he leads the team in yards from scrimmage and makes up over 25% of their yardage.

When it comes to stopping the Seahawks, Lynch will understandably be the first target to defend.

But Wilson remains dangerous when throwing the ball.

When looking at plays for 20+ yards, the Seahawks rank 3rd in the league at 7.3%

Those are some of the best deep passing attacks in the entire league and the Seahawks find themselves towards the top. The main beneficiaries of these big plays are Doug Baldwin (18 plays of 20+), Lynch (15), Jermaine Kerse (11), Luke Willson (9), and Russell Wilson himself (8 runs).

Looking at the Patriots defense, they find themselves ranking 10th worst in allowing 20+ yard plays in the league, with 67. Seattle ranks 1st with 43.

Yet the Patriots are still a great match against the explosive Seahawks offense. How does this work out?

The Patriots have had some tremendous leads this season where they have allowed the opposition to pick up chuck yardage plays. When the Patriots are ahead by two or more scores, Patriots have allowed league worst 19 20+ yard plays (tied with Colts).

When looking at times where the Patriots lead is less than 2 scores, the defense rockets up to 6th best, allowing just 48 plays of 20+ yards. Seattle is tied first with 39. This means that when the game is close, New England has done an outstanding job of preventing the other team from picking up quick yards to move down the field- and yes, this is including the playoffs.

Even more important for this game, the Patriots have allowed just two rushing plays of 20+ yards, good for best in the league. The Jets and Vikings tie for second with six each. Seattle has allowed 8 rushing plays for 20+ yards.

The Patriots match-up well against the Seahawks offense. Let's see if it's enough.

Below is the rate at which defenses allow plays of 20+ yards, with the game within 2 scores.

Tm Ttl Play Bust Bust %
1 SEA 966 39 4.0%
2 DEN 888 39 4.4%
3 BUF 942 42 4.5%
4 KAN 946 43 4.5%
5 MIN 959 46 4.8%
6 TEN 1039 52 5.0%
7 DET 986 51 5.2%
8 NYJ 922 49 5.3%
9 NWE 889 48 5.4%
10 CIN 978 53 5.4%
11 HOU 915 50 5.5%
12 TAM 1050 58 5.5%
13 BAL 1020 58 5.7%
14 SFO 911 52 5.7%
15 IND 968 56 5.8%
16 GNB 842 49 5.8%
17 DAL 873 52 6.0%
18 PIT 890 54 6.1%
19 STL 868 54 6.2%
20 MIA 936 59 6.3%
21 SDG 920 58 6.3%
22 CAR 965 61 6.3%
23 ATL 941 60 6.4%
24 OAK 1041 67 6.4%
25 CLE 1029 67 6.5%
26 WAS 943 63 6.7%
27 JAX 1045 74 7.1%
28 PHI 913 65 7.1%
29 NOR 941 69 7.3%
30 CHI 1009 75 7.4%
31 ARI 1062 79 7.4%
32 NYG 881 68 7.7%