Super Bowl XLIX will be better than Super Bowl XLVIII; that’s a guarantee. There’s no possible way it could be worse. The matchup is nearly perfect. The last time the Patriots and Seahawks played each other, Seattle managed a one-point victory.
Let’s analyze the teams and their past performances.
Pete Carroll has done a great job in Seattle; that is without question. He has all 53 players believing in the team concept. The defense is the core of the Seahawks. They have no weakness. Their greatest strength is the secondary which backs each other up better than any other in the league. They will give you short passes, waiting for a mistake to pounce on the ball. And they rarely give up the long pass.
Seattle’s offense is average. Two stars carry the team, running back Marshawn Lynch, and quarterback Russell Wilson. Between them they produce the most lethal run offense in the NFL. And Wilson improvises as well as any quarterback in the league. If these two are contained, the offense sputters.
In the NFC Championship Game, Green Bay did just that. In the first half neither Lynch nor Wilson were effective. The Packers’ defense forced Wilson to throw four interceptions. The second half was a totally different game; five critical mistakes by Green Bay lost them the game. The coaches were guilty of two, and the players three. If any one of those five had not occurred, the Patriots would be facing the Packers on Sunday.
‘Deflategate’ or not, The Patriots were the most consistent team in the AFC throughout the entire season; including the AFC Championship.
Bill Belichick may not have a moral compass at times, but he is undoubtedly the best coach in the NFL, and most likely one of the top three in history. Somehow he finds a way to make every player better than he actually is.
There are no ‘stars’ on New England’s defense; each player simply does his job. And because Belichick is a defensive genius, blitzes and coverages are impossible to predict. His game plan is different from one game to another. In addition, he’s had two weeks to study what Green Bay did to the Seahawks in the first half.
The offense begins and ends with Tom Brady. If he is not pressured or sacked, he will always find a receiver for a positive gain. Although Rob Gronkowski is a super-star at tight end, if any receiver is open, Brady will find him.
Some might believe that the controversy involving the deflated footballs will be a distraction for the Patriots; most likely just the opposite will happen. Belichick will drill his team, making them believe that the football world is against them. New England will be as focused as always, maybe more so.
Both teams have enormous incentive to win Sunday’s game. Seattle would be one of seven teams to win back to back titles; (Pittsburgh accomplished it twice). The last team was in 2004, you guessed it, New England.
For New England, this would be win number four. They would join the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants. Only three teams have more wins; Dallas and San Francisco with five, and Pittsburgh with six.
Tom Brady would tie Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw with four wins each; although Brady has suffered two losses, while Montana and Bradshaw never lost a Super Bowl.
So, who wins? The obvious and most accurate answer is ‘whoever commits the least number of turnovers. They are will matched, but I believe that the Patriots will win the turnover battle, and that they have the better offense. I also believe the game will see spurts of great play by both teams. How defenses react will be crucial.
The final score will be New England 31, Seattle 24.
By James Turnage