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Originally published Sunday, December 7, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Seahawks vs. Patriots preview

Key questions

1Who are the Patriots players to watch? FB Heath Evans tops the depth chart at the position, and he's a former Seahawk. He was drafted by Seattle in the third round and spent four seasons with the Seahawks. But the bigger names include QB Matt Cassel, who replaced the legendary Tom Brady in the first quarter of the first game of this season. Cassel had back-to-back 400-yard passing games last month. Then there's WR Randy Moss, the enigmatic veteran who in his career averages a touchdown every 6.3 receptions. Moss has 132 TD catches in 11 seasons, the most of anyone in the NFL over that span. Then there is WR Wes Welker, the NFL leader in receptions since 2007 with 196. He's second in the league this season with 84. On defense, the stars are LBs Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel and DE Richard Seymour. A star from the past, Junior Seau, was brought out of semi-retirement this week. Vrabel is one of the better pass-rushing linebackers in the game.

2Will Matt Hasselbeck be running for his life? If he plays. Seneca Wallace might get the nod because of how beat up Hasselbeck was from the game 10 days ago. Seymour is the guy to really watch. The Patriots only have 23 sacks as a team, but they'll look to take advantage of center Steve Vallos, who will be starting his second career NFL game, still developing right tackle Ray Willis and first-time starter Mansfield Wrotto at right guard. That will be the right side of the line if left tackle Walter Jones doesn't play, as Sean Locklear would move from right tackle to left. The Seahawks are missing three starters, C Chris Spencer, LG Mike Wahle and RG Rob Sims, on the offensive line.

3Do the Seahawks have any Pro Bowl candidates? Fan voting ends Tuesday, and then NFL players and coaches will cast their votes Thursday and Friday. It doesn't appear that the Seahawks will send anyone, mainly because of how their season has gone. Best hopes are K Olindo Mare (19 of 21 on field goals), LB Julian Peterson (five sacks, three forced fumbles and two consecutive selections) and Jones, who might go on reputation alone. He's got a seven-year streak.

Notable

Seahawks: The Seahawks have lost four in a row at home, which hasn't happened since the 1992 season when they were 2-14. ... QB Seneca Wallace could be making his fifth start of the season and was 1-3 in the previous four. ... The Seahawks are 10-1 when RB Maurice Morris has 15 or more carries. ... The overall series is tied at seven wins for each team. ... K Olindo Mare is fifth in the NFL in touchbacks with 17. ... LB Leroy Hill is the Seahawks' leader in tackles with 81. ... Seattle has won five of the past six meetings but lost the most recent game at New England in 2004.

Patriots: New England has 13 wins in a row over NFC opponents, including a pair of wins this season. ... A win today would be 150 in coach Bill Belichick's career, including postseason. ... DE Richard Seymour needs one sack to surpass his career high of eight in a season. He currently has 7 ½. ... Rookie LB Jerod Mayo leads the team in tackles with 104.

Injury report

Seahawks: QB Matt Hasselbeck (back) is doubtful. LB Leroy Hill (neck) and LT Walter Jones (knee) are questionable. WR Koren Robinson (knee), DT Red Bryant (ankle) and S C.J. Wallace (hamstring) are probable.

Patriots: LB Pierre Woods (jaw) is out. LB Vince Redd (ankle) and WR Kelley Washington (thigh) are doubtful. CB Ellis Hobbs (shoulder), LB Tedy Bruschi (knee), RB LaMont Jordan (calf) and DT Ty Warren (groin) are questionable. C Dan Koppen (elbow) is probable.

Last gameSeahawks: Seattle last played on Thanksgiving Day, and the Seahawks came out of the game looking like turkeys — blown out 34-9 by the Dallas Cowboys in Texas. The Cowboys scored on their first four possessions of the game, getting touchdowns in three to lead 24-6 at halftime. Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck came away sore after being sacked seven times; even left tackle Walter Jones, for so long impenetrable, gave up two. Hasselbeck did throw for 287 yards and TE John Carlson had six catches for 105 yards, but the Seahawks fell to 2-10.

Patriots: New England lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 33-10, at Gillette Stadium last Sunday to fall to 7-5 on the season. The teams were tied at 10 at halftime. The Patriots turned the ball over on five straight possessions in the second half, leading to four Pittsburgh scoring drives, two of which began inside the Patriots' 10-yard line. RB Kevin Faulk recorded his second straight game with more than 100 scrimmage yards.

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com

Who has the advantage?
QB RB WR OL DL LB DB ST
Seattle × × ×
N.E. × × × × ×

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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