This Sunday, the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks will meet in Super Bowl XLIX. The game is set for 6:30 p.m. and will take place at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
While much of the hype over the past two weeks has involved New England and the “Deflategate” controversy, there is still a game to be played and a winner to be crowned. The Seahawks are making their second Super Bowl appearance in as many years, while the Patriots are making their sixth appearance in the last 14 years.
If Seattle plans to repeat as Super Bowl champions, it is essential for Marshawn Lynch is to have a great showing. This postseason, Lynch is averaging a bruising 5.53 yards per carry, but even that stat understates his importance to Seattle. Everything the Seahawks do offensively revolves around Lynch running the football.
If Lynch can get going early, that enables the Seahawks to open up the middle of the field for their receivers and tight ends to make plays down field. The Seahawks’ run game allows them to institute a lot of play action into the game plan, which in turn freezes defenses and allows quarterback Russell Wilson to make plays with his legs.
For the Patriots, it starts and ends with two-time Super Bowl MVP, Tom Brady. In his past two playoff games, Brady has thrown for 593 yards and 6 touchdowns opposed to just two interceptions, while the entire Patriots’ offense is putting up an average of 40 points per game. When Brady starts to string together completions it forces opposing defenses to drop more men into coverage and leaves the defense more vulnerable to the ground game.
That’s when LeGarrette Blount steps in. In the Patriots’ last game against the Indianapolis Colts, Blount had a monstrous 148-yard game with 4.9 yards per carry and three touchdowns. If New England’s offense gets rolling early, it’s going to be difficult to stop.
A key player and match-up to watch Sunday is Seahawks’ safety Kam Chancellor. Chancellor and the rest of the “Legion of Boom” are going to be tasked with slowing down the always dangerous Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski is a match-up nightmare in the red zone, as evidenced by his 10 receptions and two touchdowns already this postseason.
If Chancellor can find a way to slow down Gronkowski, it will force Tom Brady to look for other options in the red zone. However, if Chancellor can’t contain the athletic tight end it could be a long night for Seattle.
The two teams in this year’s Super Bowl were clear front runners from the beginning, and both posted a 14-4 record. It seems fitting that they meet on football’s biggest stage.
Seattle has the pieces in place to become the next decade-long NFL dynasty. The Patriots had a great run with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, but their time has come and gone. A changing of the guard will happen this Sunday when the Seahawks claim their second Super Bowl victory in franchise history.
Edited by Cody McClure