Superbowl XLIX Preview

written by Andrew Weidman

Finally, the most anticipated event for professional football fans around the world is happening this Sunday; Superbowl XLIX. This year’s matchup features the NFC champion Seattle Seahawks, against the AFC champion New England Patriots. For the Seahawks, they enter as the defending champions, as they won their first Superbowl title last year in franchise history, dismantling the Denver Broncos 43-8. The Patriots are making their 8th Superbowl appearance, which is tied for 1st all-time in NFL history with the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers. If they can win, it will be their 4th Superbowl title, which would be tied for 4th all time, also with the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants. There is a controversy surrounding the Patriots under speculation that they deflated their footballs below the legal limit in the first half of their 45-7 blowout win over the Indianapolis Colts. However, at this point, it is just that; speculation. The Seahawks had a miraculous comeback in the NFC Championship game, pulling off a tremendous 4th quarter comeback against the Green Bay Packers, winning 28-22 in overtime.

These two teams operate their offense and defensive in different ways; let’s break it down. For Seattle’s offense, they simply just will not be able to pass against the Patriots secondary. The Patriots have arguably the best man coverage in the NFL, and the Seahawks also lack an elite receiver than can get separation and make plays. Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner should be able to easily contain Seattle’s two leading receivers, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse. Seattle also lacks a big-play tight end, making New England’s safeties jobs a lot easier. Because of this, Russell Wilson’s scrambling ability, to go along with the running game, will determine whether or not Seattle will bring home their second straight Lombardi trophy. Russell Wilson will be forced to improvise, and unlike most quarterbacks, Wilson is an out of the box thinker, and can easily use his legs when necessary. Seattle’s running game is there only shot at winning the game. Marshawn Lynch is probably the league’s best at gaining yards after contact when they’re needed most. The Patriots’ aggressive run D features linebacker blitzes, which is a boom-or-bust approach as the blitzes could open up running lanes.

Seattle’s defense has one key objective; make Tom Brady beat you. That may seem silly, as Tom is among the best to ever play the game, but it’s not crazy when you think about it. The Patriots are at their best when their underneath, short-area passing game is clicking with Julian Edelman, or when Rob Gronkowski is working the seams. If either of these two gets rolling, the Patriots will be able to move the ball and score on a Seahawks defense that has allowed less than 10 points per contest during their current eight-game winning streak. However, if Seattle can take away these patterns and force Brady to throw at the deep-intermediate levels or, better yet, downfield outside the numbers, Seattle wins. With the exception of hitting Brandon LaFell on the occasional play-action skinny post, Brady doesn’t throw downfield outside the numbers with any regularity.