After two weeks talking about deflated balls and Marshawn Lynch’s utter disdain for the media, Super Bowl Sunday has arrived as the New England Patriots try to stop the Seattle Seahawks from becoming the eighth franchise in NFL history to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
Of course, the New England Patriots did the trick to cap the 2003 and ’04 seasons.
Much like those Patriots teams, the Seahawks are led by a defense and an effective but relatively unspectacular quarterback. However, in order for the Seahawks to repeat, they’ll need to overcome some considerable challenges including the health of their secondary.
Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, and Richard Sherman are all battling injuries with the ailments to Thomas (separated shoulder) and Sherman (sprained elbow) among the most serious.
When looking at this game, it comes down to Brady vs. The Legion of Boom. If New England controls the tempo and is able to make sure kicker Stephen Gostkowski doesn’t become a prominent figure in this game by posting touchdowns instead of field goals, then Seattle has their work cut out for them.
The two biggest questions heading into this game are as follows:
1. What will New England’s counter be to not being to get the ball to Gronkowski early?
2. How many times will Marshawn Lynch carry the ball today?
I think New England can figure out a way to move the ball if some Seattle resources are devoted to slowing Gronk. However, the big key is question number 2. The Seahawks have to make sure Lynch touches the ball at least 25 times today. I don’t see them winning unless he does that.
New England’s defense has faced some world-class passing attacks this season and this Seahawks team is not among them. Thus, it falls on Lynch’s shoulders.
I don’t think Seattle is the better team at the moment because of their health on both sides of the ball but this will be a battle of wills late in the fourth quarter, I believe.
If that’s the case, I’m not sure anyone can stop Beast Mode (and then the subsequent Russell Wilson play-action sledgehammer). In five career games against the Patriots under Bill Belichick, Lynch has never rushed for 100 yards in a game until today. I picked Seattle to start the season to repeat and I’m not changing now.
My greatest concern for Seattle is actually being flat after the NFC title game. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it’s the Super Bowl but they had to go to the depths of hell to beat the Packers two weeks ago. I’m not totally convinced they have another balls to the wall effort in them for a second straight game against another future Hall of Fame quarterback.
However, I like the Seahawks to get it done…barely.
SEAHAWKS 24, PATRIOTS 21
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS: 2-0