The New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks both pride themselves on playing great defense when it matters most. We've already noted that both teams are excellent at defending the big plays. It's also good to note that both defenses do a terrific job in crucial situations.
Patriots pretty good in 3rd/4th and long situations pic.twitter.com/jx2bGP2XTY— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) January 24, 2015
Yes, the Patriots are the #1 team in the league in defending third/fourth and long situations. They are a hair ahead of the Seahawks.
New England's strong defense will be really important on early downs against the Seahawks, who run the ball 59% of the time on first down, 5th most in the league (Patriots run 48% of the time, 23rd most). Seattle gains an average of 5.8 yards on first down, which is the 6th best in the league (Patriots are a league average 16th with an average of 5.4 yards).
On second down, the Seahawks lead the league in rushing rate, carrying the ball 55% of the time. No team runs more frequently on first and second down than Seattle.
If the Patriots can slow down Marshawn Lynch on early downs and force the Seahawks into third and long situations, then New England will be putting itself in a great position to stop the Seattle offense.