It all ends here. Tonight the Seattle Seahawks will take on the New England Patriots in the biggest game of the NFL season to decide who will be crowned champion. The Seahawks are looking to become the first team to win back to back Super Bowls since the 2003-2004 Patriots. The current Patriots enter the game looking to win their first Lombardi trophy since they won 11 years ago. This should be another great matchup tonight with the best defense in the league squaring off with the best offense. We saw this script before, in last year’s big game, but this one should be very different.
Last year’s blowout saw a team get absolutely dominated in every aspect of the game. I don’t think we will see that tonight. I actually expect Russell Wilson to struggle again, much like he did in the NFC Championship game against Green Bay. The Packers’ defense is good, but New England’s is better. Their front seven is an above average group, capable of getting to the quarterback. The Pats finished tied for thirteenth in sacks this season. The strength of this unit though is the secondary. They finished the year with three more interceptions than Seattle’s vaunted group. This defense in total ended up with 25 takeaways this season. They also had the best turnover margin this season behind only Green Bay. Bill Belichick is a defensive mastermind. If Wilson had four interceptions against the Packers, it could be scary how many he might end up with when he is throwing at Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.
The other thing that makes New England intimidating is their versatility on offense. Everyone knows that Tom Brady and his receivers can light it up. Danny Amendola has started to look like he has found his footing this postseason and Julien Edelman continues to be the Pats’ jack-of-all-trades. Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright make this team scary from the two tight end set. Brady might be up against a very talented defense, but he will have his opportunity to pick out his matchups. But what really sets this Patriots team apart from last year’s Broncos is when the Seahawks want to drop into coverage, Brady can hand the ball off to a one man wrecking crew by the name of LeGarrette Blount. He shredded the Colts defense last week to the tune of 148 yards and three touchdowns. He is a powerful runner that has a knack for getting stronger as the game goes on. It almost reminds you of another bruising running back who plays in the Pacific Northwest.
For as good as Blount can be, Marshawn Lynch is even better. Lynch has been the model of consistency for Seattle this season, racking up yards whenever they need him to. Playing against the Packers two weeks ago, Lynch rattled off 157 yards on only 25 carries. That is over six yards per attempt. New England’s rush defense was pretty solid this season. Playing against the Colts though, Daniel Herron ripped off over 50 yards on only 10 carries. Lynch is a more talented runner than Herron and that could spell trouble for New England. The Seahawks struggled two weeks ago when Wilson tried to make too many plays with his arm. When Seattle reverted to feeding Lynch the ball, the momentum completely switched and Pete Carroll’s team began dominating the game. If Seattle finds some early ground success with Lynch or even Wilson, it will keep Brady on the sideline and protect the Seahawks from needing to attack the most dangerous part of the Patriots defense.
Even when Brady does take the field though, he is going to have to note the location of a couple different players on every down. Richard Sherman is not someone you want to test very often. Newly crowned MVP Aaron Rodgers found that out the hard way. Brady’s security blanket is usually Gronk but he will be matched up with the best safety in the league in Kam Chancellor. Brady also has to keep in mind that when he drops back he will have Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett working to collapse the pocket. He also cannot get to comfortable hanging the ball in the air because the ball-hawking, speed demon named Earl Thomas will go and get it. That isn’t even including K.J. Wright or Bobby Wagner either. The Seahawks’ defense was the best in the NFL for a reason. They only allowed 186 passing yards per game this season and 82 yards rushing. Those both rank in the top three in the NFL. New England could end up winning the turnover battle, but they will have a very tough time moving the ball.
This is going to come down to who can control the clock more. Both teams can capably run the ball, but Seattle’s rushing attack offensively and rushing defense are elite while New England’s are simply above average. Brady might be one of the best Super Bowl quarterback’s the league has ever seen. He has a 93.8 rating total and has thrown 9 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions in his previous 5 appearances. I just do not think the Patriots will be able to bottle up the Seahawks’ running game. That means Brady will be forced to pass and that will definitely give Seattle the edge. The Seattle defense is hard to beat and while offense wins games, defense wins championships. The Seahawks will be back to back champions, winning 28-21.