This is what you want. This is why you go thru OTAs, 2-a-days, the grind of a season, to get the chance to play on Sunday.
And this one could be a classic, this Seahawks-Patriots game. Great quarterbacks, an explosive offense, a state of the art running back, a great defense, and brilliant coaching. It does not get much better than this, and on a fast track, in a domed stadium, perfect elements for the best game.
So for 4-hours, we will set aside ‘Deflate-Gate’, Defiant coaches, mean-spirited comments, and the myriad of NFL problems, and concentrate on the game.
Tom Brady is after his 4th Super Bowl ring, in his 6th appearance. He has thrown for (593Y) and 6-TDs in these playoffs, and has his full arsenal of pass catchers, in Rob Gronkowski (92R), Julian Edelman (109R), and Brandon LaFell (83R) healthy and ready to go. Late arriving RB-LeGarrette Blount gives them the bull rush run game they have not had for much of the season. And then of course there is Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels, his wild formations, the 4-OL package, and putting anyone and everyone in motion.
Seattle has the quarterback and the beast of a running back, but not much else on offense. But Russell Wilson is as diverse as any Super Bowl signal caller we have seen, accounting for (524APY) throwing and running in the postseason. Marshawn Lynch is the toughest running back since the days of Earl Campbell, and has over (1500R) this season plus the playoffs. He makes everyone else play bigger with his power and ability to crash for extra yards after contact. Seattle has speed at wide receiver, though Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse are not equal to what the Patriots present.
The season long stats of the two signal callers are staggering. Brady (4,702P-39TD), Wilson (4648APY-30TD).
Bill Belicheck’s mad scientist approach to defense will be fun to watch. Use the phrase ‘do you believe what you see’ when you get to the line of scrimmage. The Patriots are historical in showing you one look at presnap, and shifting. You might get Vince Wilfork lining up inside at tackle, or outside at end. They might blitz run lanes like they did against the Colts. They will likely spy Wilson at quarterback, assigning Rob Ninkovich to that role. They will probably commit to load the box against the load of a running back in Lynch, figuring Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner will handle the Seahawks receivers one on one.
Seattle’s Pete Carroll has defense in his DNA, and this will be fascinating how he employs the Legion of Boom secondary. Does Richard Sherman draw Julian Edleman? Can Kam Chancellor handle Rob Gronkowski? Who does Byron Maxwell cover on the other side? Does Earl Thomas double up on Gronk?
The Patriots and Seahawks can both move the ball, (365YPG-344YPG), and neither one turns it over much (13Tov-14Tov). The Seahawks like to gash you with a big run play, make you change your defense, then throw deep sometimes. New England will spread you out and throw the ball down the seam to open spaces. Seattle has 43-TDs this year, the Patriots 52 scores.
But it is defense that could alter the outcome. Seattle has given up just 3-TDs in the final 6-games of the regular season. Adding in postseason, that’s just 6-TDs allowed in 8-games, 6-TDs in 32-quarters of football. For the year allowed just 27-touchdowns in 18-games. They have 42-sacks and 24-takeaways, and have allowed the least yards in the league (267YPG); they don’t let you in the endzone. New England slows you down, but has allowed yards (334YPG) and 32-TDs this year, but they do have 26-sacks-25-takeaways.
It will be fascinating to watch the one on one battles. Can Seattle, with Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril get to Brady without the blitz package? Can New England’s secondary hold up in single coverage against speed, while they commit people up front? Will Seattle bust a big play against the big package Patriots defense up front?Can a leaky set of Patriots offensive tackles, Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer, and a young offensive line,which allowed 40-sacks, hold up against speed rushers? Or doesn’t it matter, because Brady gets the ball out so quick?
And will the refs allow New England to speed up with their 4-OL mix, who’s eligible, who’s not, and will it confuse the Seahawks alignment? Will there be turnovers? Will it be fast tempo? How many defensive hold-pass interference flags will there be, or will mugging be part of the day?.
Look for New England to spy Wilson, and fence in Lynch by committing to load the defensive box. Take away the read-option, and make Lynch run over people, lots of people, at the line of scrimmage. Seattle will move people around on defense, lining up in zones, man, zero blitz coverage, and try to knock Patriots receivers off their routes.
This will be more than Tom Brady-vs-Russell Wilson. It is more than a matchup of mad scientists, like Pete Carroll and Tom Brady. It will be fun, it will be good. I’d like to say (49-42) someone, but these defenses are too good to allow that to happen. The Seahawks have the defense and two bullets on offense. The Patriots have loads of weapons and just enough defense to slow the Hawks down. Pick New England (31-24).
It will be a super Super Bowl.