Before a ball was even kicked in anger in the 2016-17 NFL season, sports pundits were already predicting a New England-Seattle rematch in next year’s SuperBowl LI. Here’s a quick look at how the two teams are faring after the first three games.
In the aftermath of Game Week 3, the New England Patriots stand undefeated (3-0-0) in the AFC East, one of three teams in the AFC to boast that record, alongside the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos. As far as results go, it’s exactly what you’d expect from the four-time SuperBowl champions, and their early season odds for a repeat of XLIX reflect that – the Patriots are 4/1 favourites for SuperBowl LI.
The Patriots have turned taking the initiative into an art form. So far, they have outscored every opponent they’ve played in the first quarter (10-0 against Arizona, 14-0 in Miami, and 10-0 in Houston), and have only gone behind in one quarter all season (the fourth, at Arizona – by one point). Bill Belichick’s early season ethos is all about control – and it’s no surprise; the AFC East has belonged to the Patriots for all but one of the past thirteen seasons.
However, the fact that New England have started so strongly without the suspended Tom Brady is perhaps the greatest indicator of their post-season prospects. The Patriots are one of the most well-rounded teams in the NFL, as evidenced by their recent 27-0 rout of the Texans, in which a young Jacoby Brissett filled Brady’s shoes for all 27 yards of his debut touchdown.
New England host the 1-2-0 Buffalo Bills on Sunday, who, despite a recent 33-18 win over Arizona, will go into the clash as underdogs. Expect Brady to join a 4-0-0 Patriots team for the road trip to Cleveland on October 9.
Fresh from a 37-18 defeat of the 49ers at the weekend, Seattle are currently 11/1 outsiders for the SuperBowl in the bet365 NFL odds and 7/4 joint favourites with the Cardinals to win the NFC West. The Seahawks can’t quite match the Patriots’ undefeated win streak, at 2-1-0, but Sunday’s win over San Francisco put to bed concerns about the franchise’s offence.
Seahawks RB, Christine Michael, rushed for a total of 106 yards, including a 41-yard opener, while Russell Wilson took 243 yards to sink the 49ers. Injury has become a slight concern for the latter player; he left with a knee injury in San Francisco and played in a disappointing 9-3 defeat to the Los Angeles Rams with a sore ankle. He may now sit out Seattle’s visit to New York on Sunday.
With the trio of Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, and Cliff Avril, the Seahawks have one of the strongest defences in the NFL, a trait that shone in the low-scoring Week 2 loss in LA (their third in a row against the Rams). However, the Seahawks’ SuperBowl hopes may hinge on divisional rivals, the 14/1 Cardinals, and Tom Brady; Arizona have already played the Patriots (and avoided the suspended Brady) while Seattle will have to face a full-strength New England later in the season.