America’s unofficial sports holiday is upon us once again as another football season comes to an end with Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona. This year brings us a meeting of two teams people love to hate as the reigning Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks face the New England Patriots, winners of three Super Bowls since 2001 and in the big game for the sixth time in 14 years.
The circus surrounding the big game this year is among the Seahawks whose mouth that roared Richard Sherman has accused Commissioner Roger Goodell of playing favorites with the Patriots, for sweeping Spygate and Deflategate under the rug, while throwing the book at the Saints over Bountygate. Goodell also has been accused of Selfiegate for dining with Patriots Owner Robert Kraft on the day before the AFC Championship Game. Meanwhile Marshawn Lynch continues to run afoul with the league over his lack of words, refusing to cooperate with the media, and getting fines for wearing the wrong hat and his crotch grab in the NFC Championship Game in a picture that is for sale on NFL.com for $6.99.
Meanwhile the inflated egos of the Patriots are battling charges they deflated the footballs in the AFC Championship Game. One thing we know is that the Patriots will take every opportunity to cheat. Even before Bill Belichick was their coach they had a prisoner on work release blow the snowy covered field, to allow for a game winning kick in 1982. Then of course there was the Spygate scandal in which the Patriots were videotaping the opposing team’s sideline. Roger Goodell had all the evidence burned as the Pats received a nominal fine and lost a minor draft pick. The same will likely happen with Deflategate as Roger Goodell continues to show how clueless he is. Roger Goodell has proven time and time again that he is a horrible commissioner and his inconstant punishments are a big reason why. Ultimately it did not matter what was done with the football in the AFC Championship. The Colts do not matchup with the Patriots. The Colts run defense is not good at stopping physical running backs like LaGarrette Blount. The Colts also have a mediocre secondary and a nonexistent pass rush. The Patriots could have used medicine balls and won the game 45-7, but the Patriots cheat for cheating sake and likely have been using deflated balls all season.
While the Colts are a poor match for the Patriots, the Seahawks are a perfect match for them. They have a physical defense that is good at stopping the run and putting pressure on the quarterback led by Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. They have a secondary that is second to none, that will all but take the Patriots receivers out of the game. The only question is who will cover Rob Gronkowski? However, what makes Gronk so strong is that he is often left alone on an overmatched defender, besides a strong pass rush and one of the best secondaries in NFL history the Seahawks have solid Linebackers with last year’s Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith, Bobby Wagner and Bruce Irving all able to keep Tight Ends from getting to much space in open field. The Patriots one weakness in offense is the lack of a deep threat, with pressure the Seahawks able to get pressure on Tom Brady it won’t be surprising to see at least one member of the Legion of Boom Kam Chancelor, Richard Sherman or Earl Thomas make the game’s deciding play. Another factor to consider is the Seahawks strong red zone defense that kept them in the NFC Championship Game, by keeping the Packers out of endzone, despite starting two straight drives in the redzone in the first quarter.
The Patriots are back in the Super Bowl again, and with Tom Brady getting older this could be their last chance at a fourth ring. The best thing going for the Patriots besides being Roger Goodell’s favorite team is that their defense is the strongest it has been since they won Super Bowl XXXIX. They ran their way through the AFC East again, and after a 2-2 start dominated the AFC one again. The one thing to consider is that the AFC was not really that good this year. Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos started to look old, the Colts are a team on the rise with Andrew Luck, but not a fully rounded Super Bowl contender. The AFC North was a mishmash of mediocrity and the rest of the conference was not ever worthy of discussion. In the NFC the Seahawks had much stiffer competition with the Eagles missing the playoffs despite a 10-6 record. The NFC West may even have been the best division in football for the second straight season. Some of this year’s Patriots accomplishments were inflated by a soft schedule.
Tom Brady is clearly the better quarterback, but Russell Wilson is one of the smartest quarterback in the NFL. Wilson has an incredible 10-0 record against Super Bowl winning quarterbacks including a comeback win over the Patriots in 2012 in the game in which Richard Sherman asked Tom Brady if he was mad. Wilson’s ability to not let the game overwhelm him is his best attribute as many quarterbacks who commit four turnovers will fold up. However, Russell Wilson continued to battle as the Seahawks completed a dramatic comeback against the Packers in the NFC Championship Game.
Defense wins championships and the Seahawks have the better defense. The Seahawks are the first team since the Vikings legendary Purple Eaters to lead the NFL in scoring defense in three straight seasons. They are also the first teams since the 1985 and 1986 Bears to lead the NFL in fewest overall yards allowed and fewest points allowed in two straight seasons. The Seahawks have the formula a good pass rush, a great secondary and a strong middle defense. As badly as the Colts matched up against the Patriots, the Seahawks match up well. Not to mention Marshawn Lynch is going to be in beast mode from the opening kickoff and it won’t take long to see that Seattle is the better team as they win a second straight Lombardi Trophy, with Marshawn Lynch being forced again to speak to the media as Super Bowl MVP.