Getting to know the Seattle Seahawks

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Seattle Seahawks are an unfamiliar foe for the New England Patriots, as the teams haven't met since the 2012 season.

But here's a neat link between them: Each lost on the road to the Kansas City Chiefs (New England on Sept. 29; Seattle on Nov. 16) and then had their 2014 seasons quickly U-turn in the right direction thereafter.

Pete Carroll's team takes on his personality; they are fiery, fast, aggressive and a bit "outside the box."

For more on the defending champions, here is our standard primer (as well as a "quick take" on the matchup):

Record: 12-4 regular season; 2-0 playoffs

Head coach: Pete Carroll (fifth year)

Offensive coordinator: Darrell Bevell

Defensive coordinator: Dan Quinn

Special teams: Brian Schneider

General manager: John Schneider


1. QB Russell Wilson: Entering the NFL as a third-round draft pick out of Wisconsin in 2012, he's been a starter from Day 1, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick said watching Wilson took him back to his youth and watching Roger Staubach because of his ability to "Houdini" plays and create something out of nothing -- both running and passing.

2. RB Marshawn Lynch: A big, powerful runner, he totaled 1,306 rushing yards in the regular season on 280 carries (4.7 average), with 13 TDs. He is also effective as a pass-catcher (37 catches, 4 TDs), but one thing that stood out in film review is that he's a ball-security risk at times (e.g. lost fumble versus Rams in season finale). The ball sometimes comes away from his chest.

3. RB Robert Turbin: While Lynch is naturally the centerpiece, we were also impressed with what we saw from Turbin, a fourth-round pick in 2012 out of Utah State. At 5-foot-10 and 222 pounds, he's the second part of a 1-2 power punch with Lynch (5-11, 215) that helps the Seahawks control games when they can get their play-action passing game going. Like Lynch, he can catch it out of the backfield as well (16 receptions).

4. WRs Jermaine Kearse/Doug Baldwin: Kearse (6-1, 209) has come far in his career without going far -- he went to high school in Tacoma, Washington, then attended the University of Washington before signing with the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2012. He's second on the team with 38 catches in the regular season (14.1 avg.) and had the long touchdown against the Panthers in the divisional round. Baldwin, also an undrafted free agent out of Stanford in 2011, led the Seahawks during the regular season with 66 catches.

5. LT Russell Okung/ RT Justin Britt. A first-round draft pick in 2010, the 6-foot-5, 310-pound Okung is athletic for his size, while the 6-foot-6, 325-pound Britt was one of the team's top draft picks in 2014 (second round, 64th overall, Missouri) and started every game this year before sitting out the NFC Championship Game with an injury.


1. CB Richard Sherman: The 6-3, 195-pound Sherman doesn't lack for confidence, but he backs it up on the field. He's hard to throw over and challenging him along the sideline is not recommended. He has solid ball skills and anticipation.

2. S Kam Chancellor: A physical presence against the run and in the short passing game, the 6-3, 232-pound Chancellor is one of the hardest-hitting safeties in the NFL and a tone-setter on defense and special teams, where his leaping ability showed up against the Panthers in the divisional round when he almost had two blocks with a hurdle move over the interior of the line. He entered the NFL with Seattle in 2010 as a fifth-round pick from Virginia Tech.

3. S Earl Thomas: Arguably the best free safety in the NFL, he can cover from sideline to sideline and isn't afraid to get physical in the running game and force a fumble (e.g. versus Rams). A first-round draft pick out of Texas in 2010, he signed a four-year, $40 million extension last offseason that helped set the market at the position's high end (New England's Devin McCourty sends his thank you for that).

4. LBs Bobby Wagner/KJ Wright: Touted as an NFL Most Valuable Player candidate by NBC studio analyst Tony Dungy, the 6-foot, 241-pound Wagner covers ground in a hurry whether he's playing downhill in the running game or dropping in the passing game (e.g. pass defended to deflect the ball to Bruce Irvin for a run-back TD versus the Rams in the season finale). He was drafted in the second round by the Seahawks in 2012 out of Utah State. Meanwhile, the 6-4, 246-pound Wright covers a lot of ground, playing physical against the run, but maintaining his athleticism to be a factor in coverage. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2011 draft out of Mississippi State by the Seahawks, who used the draft pick they acquired from New England to pick him.

5. DE Michael Bennett: Signed as a free agent in 2013 after he spent four seasons in Tampa Bay, the 6-4, 274-pound Bennett is sometimes in the backfield so quickly off the edge that it never gives the offensive play a chance (e.g. 8:49, second quarter versus Rams in season finale, making tackle for 4-yard loss). Between him, Cliff Avril, O'Brien Schofield and sometimes Bruce Irvin, there are four heat-seeking missiles off the edge to account for on offense.

EXTRA POINTS: Jon Ryan had only 17 punts returned this season, fewest in the NFL, in part because of his excellent hang time. ... Kicker Steven Hauschka grew up in Needham, Massachusetts, rooting for the Patriots. ... Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who coached under Nick Saban with the Dolphins (2005-06) and Eric Mangini with the Jets (2007-08), is expected to become the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons after the Super Bowl. He runs a 4-3 defense in Seattle and they get off the ball quickly. ... The Seahawks had the most penalties of any team in the NFL. ... Veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who spent the first 10 years of his career with the Vikings, chose the Seahawks over the Patriots in 2014 free agency. ... Backup defensive tackle Landon Cohen was with the Patriots in 2010 and 2011. A few weeks ago, he was running his own parking valet business. ... ESPN.com's Terry Blount has the Seahawks covered.