After two weeks of talking about deflated footballs and Marshawn Lynch one-liners, we’re finally closing in on kickoff of Super Bowl XLIX between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks.
How they got here:
New England: The Patriots two wins in the AFC playoffs could not have been more different. In the divisional round, New England won a nail biter against Baltimore by a final of 35-31. The Patriots allowed 136 yards on the ground while only mustering up 14 rushing yards of their own. However, a late interception thrown by Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco would seal the win for the Patriots. The following week against Indianapolis was no contest. New England won by a final of 45-7 and busted out on the ground for 177 yards while holding Indianapolis to a total of 83 yards rushing. In the two games so far, Tom Brady has thrown six touchdowns and two interceptions.
Seattle: The Seahawks two wins were also mirror images of each other. In the divisional round Seattle defeated Carolina 31-17 in a game they led the whole way. The following week Seattle trailed for almost all of the first 58 minutes of the game against Green Bay before some late game heroics allowed the Seahawks to pull out a 28-22 overtime victory. To no one’s surprise, Marshawn Lynch has been the centerpiece of the offense totaling 216 yards on the ground in Seattle’s two playoff wins this year. Additionally, in its two playoff wins, Seattle’s defense has shown why it is perhaps the best unit in the NFL having forced five turnovers in the two games.
How each team wins:
New England wins if: While Green Bay totaled 135 rushing yards against Seattle in the NFC Championship and particularly had success running the ball early in the game, this is a no brainer. New England’s going to win if Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have big games as Seattle’s secondary should be able to hold the New England wide receivers in check but as a tight end Gronkowski can be a matchup nightmare and if he and Brady are on the same page on Sunday evening, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will win their fourth Super Bowl together.
Seattle wins if: Defense and running the football have been Seattle’s bread and butter and there’s no reason to see that change now. Seattle led the NFL in rushing yards per game in the regular season and also led the NFL in total defense and passing defense while finishing third in the league against the run. Seattle’s legion of boom defense needs to wreak havoc for Tom Brady and get in his face forcing errant throws. In addition to Lynch getting his yards on the ground, which you can count on, they’ll need Russell Wilson’s dual threat playmaking, especially on third down to extend drives.
Prediction: You can flip a coin here because it’s that close. Both teams had rough patches at different parts of the season but got hot down the stretch and are now within one win of the Lombardi Trophy. Ultimately, I believe that Seattle’s defense will hit Brady enough and force a few turnovers and keep the game low scoring, which is how Seattle wins. I’ll go 21-17 Seahawks.