Super Bowl Preview: Is It a RePete or a Bunch for Brady?
Saturday, January 31, 2015
Marshawn Lynch vs. the Patriots Defense
Multiple Seahawks have said during the circus that is Super Bowl Media Week (no longer just Day anymore) that their goal is to make Seattle’s resident Beast the Super Bowl MVP. That means, unsurprisingly, the Seahawks will look to establish a battering and bruising power run game. As an article on Hawkblogger.com states, the New England Patriots actually rank last against power run games. And there is hardly a more powerful runner than Marshawn Lynch. Now, the article cites a stat that the Pats have the worst ability to stop the run on 3rd and 4th and short situations. In a game where field position and keeping the offense on the field may be crucial, the Seahawks have to like their chances moving the chains with the Beast.
Gronk vs. the Legion of Boom
Without a doubt, Rob Gronkowski is the most dangerous tight end in the NFL right now. He has the build of a classic tight end: big, strong and able to block with the best. However, he also has impressive speed and a set of hands that are made for hauling in Tom Brady passes. And once he has the ball, Gronk is a bear to bring down. The Seahawks don’t play a lot of tricks with their defense so it will be interesting to see exactly how the defense will handle Gronk. Since they have faith in their system, if Gronk winds up lining up outside, he’ll see the likes of Richard Sherman or Byron Maxwell. If, as I would guess is more likely, he winds up in formation where run blocking is an option, the assignment will fall elsewhere. One of the big keys will be soul destroying Kam Chancellor as a safety. As Gronk goes deep down the seam, as the Pats are wont to do, it will be up to Kam to help cover and deliver his trademark soul destroying hits to contain the tight end.
Seahawks Receiving Corps vs. Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner
In recent years, there has been a strong debate among many in football. Is the best corner in the game Darrelle Revis or Richard Sherman? No matter what side of the fence you fall on here, there is one thing everyone can agree on: the 49th Super Bowl features the two best corners in football. And, at risk of offending the Seahawks’ Doug Baldwin, Seattle’s receiving corps is certainly not among the best in the NFL. Bill Belichick will likely be stacking the box against Marshawn Lynch and the run and trusting Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse to their two outstanding corners. If the Seahawks receivers want to prove themselves, managing Revis and Browner will probably do the trick.
LeGarrette Blount vs. the Seahawks Defensive Line
Oregon Duck fans will certainly remember LeGarrette Blount’s physical running style. He is a running back in the body of 250 pound fullback. The problem with Bill Belichick, from a defensive coordinator’s perspective, is that you never know exactly what you’ll get on offense. You may get subjected to a pounding dose of Blount, like the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game, where Blount gained 148 yards and wound up in the endzone 3 times. Or, you could see almost none of LeGarrette, like the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round. In that game, Blount carried the ball precisely 3 times for a total of 1 yard. If the Pats lean on Blount, it will be up to the Seahawks defense to bring down the behemoth allowing a limited number of yards after contact. The Seahawks were able to hold the very physical Eddie Lacy of the Green Bay Packers to 107 yards over two games this season, but Lacy is nearly 20 pounds lighter than Blount.
Russell Wilson vs. the Patriots Defense
Coming off of an NFC Championship game where he had the worst 55 minutes of his career (at any level), Russell Wilson hopes to ride the momentum of the last 5 minutes and overtime to his 2nd Super Bowl ring. Not to mention, Russell would advance to 11-0 against Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. It seems entirely likely that the Patriots will attempt to stop Marshawn Lynch and make Russell Wilson beat them, especially with corners like Revis and Browner. If Belichick is successful, the game will fall to Russell. One thing that might stand in Seattle’s favor: the Pats are 0-3 against the best running quarterbacks they’ve faced since 2012 (Wilson and Kaepernick in 2012 and Newton in 2013). However, since these games, the Pats have added great corners which may make it possible for Belichick to commit to stopping the ground game from Lynch or Wilson.
Tom Brady vs. the Legion of Boom (again)
Of course, this is the rematch of the “U Mad, Bro?” game from 2012. The Legion of Boom has not shied away from challenging Tom Brady, both with their play and with their talk. However, Tom Brady is still one of the best to ever play the game. His postseason success is especially noteworthy, becoming the first quarterback to start in six Super Bowls. The Legion got the chance to prove themselves against Peyton Manning last year. However, Tom Brady is the better postseason performer and will certainly challenge the Seattle secondary. Of course, they’ll challenge him right back. The battle between one of the all-time great QBs and one of the all-time great secondaries should make this game one of the better Super Bowls in recent memory.
Like many analysts, I feel this game will be a close one, with multiple lead changes. Neither of these teams is likely to wilt in the face of adversity and the Super Bowl experience between these teams and coaches is exceptionally high. However, I stick to the mantra that defense wins championships. While the Pats have a very good defense, I think their inability to stop Marshawn Lynch in 3rd and short situations will keep the all-time great Brady off the field enough for the Seahawks. The Legion of Boom will force at least one turnover. However, the game will be an excruciating nail biter. My final score is:
Seahawks 31 – Patriots 24
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