Super Bowl XLIX pits past and present dynasties against one another in the desert
Now that everyone has commented on Deflategate and made just the right amount of inappropriate puns involving Tom Brady’s balls, we can finally get to the game. It happens to be a pretty good one too. On Feb. 1, the world will watch as the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks showdown in Arizona on the biggest stage in sports. Here’s how each team can give themselves a shot at bringing home the Lombardi Trophy.
Seattle can win if:
After the chaotic NFC Championship game, at least Seattle knows they can play their worst possible game and still come away with a victory. It’s no secret that the quarterback is the most important player on the field, but if Russell Wilson is relying on another miracle comeback to earn him his second Super Bowl ring, better luck next year. Wilson simply needs to do a better job of contributing to his offense’s production.
The Seahawks are nearly impossible to stop when Wilson and Marshawn Lynch are both on, and Beast Mode is rarely off. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia will scheme to stop, or at least slow down, the run game. That means Seattle’s success may hinge on Wilson’s ability to sit back in the pocket and read the coverage. Wilson is now 9-0 against past Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, but last week’s game against the Packers showed that he isn’t invincible. If Wilson can find his rhythm and force the Patriots defense to hesitate instead of attack, than the Seahawks can unleash their full arsenal. It will be hard enough for the Patriots to slow down Lynch, so Wilson’s performance can easily bust this Super Bowl wide open.
Seattle’s defense is the best in the business and everyone knows that defense wins championships. Because of the defense, no matter who is lined up on the other side of the ball, it gives Seattle a chance to win. Star cornerback Richard Sherman and partner-in-crime free safety Earl Thomas were both banged up in the NFC Championship game. However, the two have both been cleared for practice and vow to be ready for the dance. With them leading the secondary and Seattle’s disruptive front seven still intact, the Seahawks defense just needs to show up to become a difference-maker.
New England can win if:
Fun-fact: Tom Brady is 3-2 in Super Bowl performances but has never left the field in a Super Bowl whilst his team is trailing. Long story short, their defense has always fallen just short in previous playoff runs. However, that’s good news for Patriots fans because this year’s defense is the best unit that Belichick has had since the early 2000’s when they captured three titles in four years.
There’s no question that Seattle’s defense is still the best, but make no mistake, this is a battle between two elite defenses. Darrelle Revis regained his pro-bowl play this year and reclaimed the title of league’s best cornerback (sorry, Sherman). Along with New England’s acquisition of Brandon Browner, the Patriots secondary has adopted the Legion of Boom mentality and has dominated the opposition’s wide receivers all season. The more often the Patriots defense can get the Seahawks’ offense off the field, the more times it gets the ball back to Brady. Simple game plan, but not so simple to execute.
Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor will attempt to do the impossible this Super Bowl: stop Rob Gronkowski. No one has found a way to shut down the Patriots tight end completely and Belichick is hoping that it stays that way for at least one more game. Chancellor has a knack of blowing up other teams’ game plans but this may be a matchup that even he can’t win. If the Patriots can get Gronk the ball, he can turn the Legion of Boom into the Legion of Bust.
The Seahawks will attempt to burst through the Patriots offensive line and get in Brady’s face as quick as possible. In order to give the Patriots a chance, the offensive line needs to help Brady stay on his feet. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Belichick know this is priority number one. If they can map-out quick drop-backs for Brady and short routes for their wide receivers, it won’t matter how many times the Seahawks blitz.
Prediction: Patriots 17 – Seahawks 14
Normally there is a clear-cut favourite heading into a Super Bowl. Even last year against Peyton Manning, experts leaned towards Seattle’s defense and the weather conditions at MetLife Stadium. But this year looks like a coin toss. So when all else fails, go with your gut. There is something poetic about Brady’s Bunch returning to Arizona and finally getting that fourth ring.