The Super Bowl is all about story lines, mainly off the field story lines. Everyone wants to know who had the most struggle, where they came from, and who they are having relations with, mainly everything but the game. Super Bowl 49 is no different as far as storylines go, but unfortunately the main one is "DeflateGate". The worst thing about the Super Bowl is, its easy to forget about the game around the spectacle. Since last Wednesday, I have yet to hear anyone speak about the game, everything has been irrelevant.
Patriots-Seahawks is a very good matchup for the Super bowl. You have a Hall of Fame QB, up against a record breaking defense, similar to last year. Seahawks are looking to be the first team to win back-to-back since the Patriots in 2004 and 2005. Bill Belicheck and Tom Brady are playing in their 5th Super Bowl, trying to win their 4th together. The last time these two played was in 2012 in Seattle, a game the Seahawks won 24-23 in 2012. Richard Sherman became a household name after he ask Tom Bardy "You Mad Bro?" on the way to the locker room. Sherman finished with an interception that game, and Brady threw two picks.
Both teams are different from two years ago, but the cores are still there. Patriots are very different, Rob Gronkwoski being the only pass catcher remaining from that 2012 team. caught 6 passes for 61 yards. Gronk is a different beast now though, a much better beast. Seahawks DB, Jeremy Lane, claimed Gronk to be overrated. Here is his statements on the pro-bowl tight end,
Lane said to the Seattle Times, last Thursday. Pete Carroll joking said "he just didn't watch film yet", I'm agreeing with Carroll on this one. Lane is the nickle-back in the LOB and even though he is talented, I don't think he can call Gronk, who was 1 of 2 players voted unanimously to the All-Pro team (other being JJ Watt), overrated or "just ok". Gronk will be Lane's main assignment, and we will see how physical he can get with Gronk. To a certain extent, he is right about getting physical with Gronk. You have to do more than get your hands on him though, you actually have to hit him and hit him hard. Lane won't stop Gronk from catching the ball but if he can contain him from gaining yards after the catch, and no big plays, he gives his team an added advantage.
The rest of the secondary I think will thrive though. The Patriots receiving core doesn't have enough play-making ability to outduel the Legion of Boom. Julian Edleman is probably the best play-maker out of the group but the size of the Seahawks DBs might be too much. You figure Earl Thomas is the smallest of that group at 5'10, but he pack the biggest punch. If none of these receivers can make plays down the field, then we might see the same results from last year's Super Bowl.
I think the most even mathcup out of this game is the battle at the scrimmage. Patriots' offensive line has always been one of the best in the league, but so were the Broncos last year. Seahwaks' defensive line has managed to give the best QB's in the league fits, reason why the Legion of boom can play how they play. The best way to beat Tom Brady is to make him move outside of the pocket. Brady, similar to Manning, likes to sit in the pocket and pick you apart. If you can make him move around then you can make him uncomfortable. Unlike Manning though, Brady doesn't mind using his feet to gain a few yards, which I think he should do in this game since they won't be expecting it.
This will definitely be a chess match. One thing I love about this matchup, is both teams are very strategic and smart. Earl Thomas, who I already mentioned, is probably the smartest saftey in the league, along with Richard Sherman being the smartest corner. Their pre-game preparation is probably the best I've seen since Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. They study film so much, they have develop the ability to always know your next move. Manning didn't change his signals and it costed him a Super Bowl. Brady isn't know for hand signals, so that may be an advantage for him. Brady's "pre-snap" skills are underrated in my opinion. It may not be as proficient as Manning, but it still get the job done.
Patriots are 0-2 in their last two trips to the Super Bowl, both losses coming against the Giants by a combine margin of 7, which I'm sure doesn't sit well with Belichick. Belichick will have to figure out how to cut Russell Wilson's and Marshawn Lynch big plays to a minimum. Against the Packers, Russell didn't play well the first 3 quarters, throwing 3 interception but threw the game winning pass. Russell will not be able to play like that for another game, because I'm not sure if the defense can hold like they did against the Packers. The Patriots has played well in the postseason, holding the best offense in the league to only 7 points and 209 total yards. Marshawn Lynch wasn't on that offense though.
The Patriots' defense and Seahawks' offense are both potential x-factors in this game. Which ever unit can play best in this game, that team will win the game. Pats defense in those two Super Bowls, didn't come up with the extra play needed to win a title. Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis has made this defense that much better with their play on the outsides. Seahawks have no big names at the receiver spot, but Jermaine Kearse, Doug Baldwin, and tight end Luke Willson, all can make a big play at any time. Seahawks must limit those turnovers and get back to the mistake-free football that they are known for.
I'm going with the Seahawks in this one. I still believe in the mantra "Defense wins championship" and the Legion of Boom has already proved that to be true. The receivers of the Patriots will struggle to gain yards on this big and physical secondary. I don't think it will be as one sided as it was last year, but I can see the Seahawks walking away with it in the 4th quarter. My prediction for the Super Bowl is 28-17 Seahawks, with Marshawn Lynch winning the MVP.