Normally, an out-of-conference matchup can be taken with a grain of salt. Division games are vital. Conference games are next on the list. Then comes the four out-of-conference games. But with the Patriots already having lost their first non-conference game this year, New England doesn't want to drop another and sag back to .500 in Seattle.
And Sunday's game promises to be fascinating as the best offense in the NFL goes up against one of the best defenses. The Patriots are tops in the NFL in scoring, putting up 33 points per game; the Seahawks are second in the NFL in points allowed (14 points per game). Something has to give and if you're from around here, you hope it's not Stevan Ridley who has besmirched his tremendous production with three fumbles this season. Ridley's role Sunday, how the Patriots attack the Seattle defense, whether or not Aaron Hernandez returns and how well a Patriots defense works against a pop-gun offense are all key subplots to this one.