After a month of exciting NFL Playoff action, the Super Bowl is finally upon us. A mere five days away, the teams are putting the final touches on their game plans, and trying to get mentally prepared for what may be the biggest game of their lives.
This year’s match up gives us the defending champion Seattle Seahawks against the veteran-laden New England Patriots. Both teams are extremely experienced in postseason play, and I wouldn’t expect the pressure of the moment to get to anyone on either team. That being said, I do believe this has the potential to be one of the best Super Bowls in recent memory. These teams are very equal, and have different strengths and weaknesses that will make the game extremely close and entertaining throughout.
What can you say about the Seahawks? They are the defending Super Bowl champions, and have hit their stride at the exact right time. They come into this game off a dramatic OT victory against the Green Bay Packers, despite injuries that slowed defensive stars S Earl Thomas and CB Richard Sherman. Both players will be ready to go for the big game of course, and they will need to be on their A-Game against Patriot’s QB Tom Brady.
On offense, Seattle’s strength is running the football. RB Marshawn Lynch ranked 4th in the NFL with 1306 yards on the ground, while QB Russell Wilson led all quarterbacks with 849 rushing yards. If the Patriots can stop Seattle’s running game, they will have a much better chance to win because they will force the Seahawks to win the game through the air.
Despite winning with a long TD pass last game, the Seahawks passing game isn’t exactly stellar. Yes, Russell Wilson is an amazing decision maker and his mobility allows him to extend plays and give his receivers more time to get open down the field. However, the receivers Wilson is throwing to aren’t exactly the best playmakers in football. The core is lead by WRs Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, who combined for only 4 TDs in the regular season. Yet, Wilson has a way of making his receivers better, and their powerful running game keeps opposing defenses on their toes, allowing the play action passing game to develop nicely for the Seahawks.
The defensive side of the ball is Seattle’s strength. Their secondary is the best in football, they have one of the best linebackers in Bobby Wagner, and a strong defensive line. Wagner matches up well with Patriots’ TE Rob Gronkowski, who is their best receiver. As was the case with most of their opponents this season, Seattle matches up well defensively against New England, leaving the Patriots’ lone hopes to be stopping Seattle’s running game and having Tom Brady produce a heroic performance through the air.
The Patriots are the definition of consistency. Coach Bill Belichick and Brady have combined for the most playoff victories in NFL history, and have been a fixture in the playoffs for over a decade. New England is riding high after destroying the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game, sporting a strong running game and defense on the way to victory.
New England can come at you different ways offensively. On the ground, they have a power running attack, led by RB LeGarrette Blount, who has really surged in the playoffs each of the past two seasons. However, New England’s real strength may be through the passing game, in which future Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady is still able to move the ball all over the field. His best targets are Gronkowski and WR Brandon LaFell, who is having a career season after signing with New England this past off season. Overall, they are better offensive group than the Seahawks because they can do more in the passing game.
On the defensive side of the ball, Belichick is coaching the best group he’s ever had. The secondary is led by CBs Darrelle Revis and former Seahawk, Brandon Browner. The team also features solid linebackers that will be pivotal in stopping the run, such as Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower. They will face their toughest test on the ground this season on Sunday night.
If Seattle wins…
This is the beginning of a dynasty. They would be back-to-back champions with one of the youngest
and talented rosters in the NFL. It would only be a matter of time until contract prices and salary cap casualties would break the team up, but they could possibly still have a two-year window with this current group to really be competitive. Of course, they have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Russell Wilson, who will become one of the highest paid players no matter whether he wins or loses. Wilson would become an immediate favorite to become one of the greatest players ever, especially after capturing two titles in his first three seasons. Coach Pete Carroll would also enter the conversation for one of the best coaches ever, as he would become one of the only men to win multiple championships at both the professional and NCAA level.
On the other hand, Tom Brady and Belichick would combine to become 3-3 in Super Bowls, which I think would significantly tarnish their legacy. Yes, they have been the model of consistency in the NFL, but they weren’t always able to finish the job consistently. Despite that, they would still be considered one of the best duos in history.
If New England wins…
Brady and Belichick become the greatest QB-Coach duo of all-time, and will probably be untouched in that category forever. 4 Super Bowl victories would be hard for any other duo to match. Yet, unlike the Seahawks, this wouldn’t be the beginning of a dynasty for New England. In fact, this victory would probably be the beginning of the end to the Tom Brady era. Players such as Revis and Browner would greatly benefit from a Super Bowl victory in free agency, which would make it harder for the Patriots to extend their contracts, and keep this core group together. Plus, Brady and Belichick and other veterans would become another year older, and the Patriots are a much older team than the Seahawks would be.
For the Seahawks, losing wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Obviously, Wilson and many of the players are still very young, meaning that their window of opportunity would still be open. Also, losing the Super Bowl could hurt players like CB Byron Maxwell in free agency, which would possibly enable Seattle to re-sign him for next season.
Seattle beats New England, 28-24
This should be one of those memorable games that comes down to the final drive. I expect that Seattle’s defense is able to keep Brady at bay, while the Patriots aren’t as successful at containing Russell Wilson’s ability to extend plays. I figure that the Super Bowl will come down to one of those memorable last drives in which Wilson makes a big play to seal the victory for his team.
Make sure to tune into FOX at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday for the Super Bowl!