By: S. Davis
This is the last game of the year – and I hear that it’s a pretty big deal. Since I’ve stayed away from the stories dominating the off-week, all I’m focused on is the product on the field.
Considering last year’s waste of a viewing experience, the Seattle Seahawks would have to shut the New England Patriots out completely for this game to be worse that the one that was contested last February. For the second year in a row we are gifted a final game featuring the best teams from both conferences and I think it will be tight from kickoff up until the final whistle.
Who’s going to be elated once the confetti falls?
I could easily give the nod to the Patriots without a shade of doubt. Why? Well they have the ability to be just as stout defensively as their opponents while also being a consistent offensive threat. The Patriots average 29.3 ppg while allowing 19.6 and the Seahawks have offensive/defensive splits of 24.6/15.9. Bill Belichick will have his team prepared to attack in so many different ways, offensively, that I can see them doing enough on that side of the ball to ensure the Seahawks fall three or four points short.
Three-to-four points will be huge in this one because all of the Patriots’ Super Bowl appearances in the Tom Brady era have either been won or lost by that razor-thin margin. There’s no need to count your fingers, football savants, it’s a field goal (more or less) deciding titles. Being that the Patriots average 4.7 points more than the Seahawks per game, it would be in their best interest to bring every trick they have to keep the Seahawks guessing on defense.
Now the Seahawks have only surrendered 24 points (or more) in only four games this entire season – but they were all losses. I’m almost certain Brady and Belichick are devising ways to find 24 points somewhere in their complete strategy. However since the ‘hawks have surrendered just 15.9 points over the season I don’t see them going against their stellar standard of defensive play.
Let’s just pick the Seahawks then, right?
Well I could go with a tried and true statement: Defense wins championships. It also travels well and since the Super Bowl is being played in ideal weather conditions – it’s almost a guarantee they’ll compete. The ‘hawks possess so much speed on defense that they cannot be compromised laterally so the best way to beat speed is to run straight at it. Is that you LeGarrette Blount?
Power backs give every team in the league trouble – the Patriots will have to contend with that Marshawn Lynch guy as well – but if the Seahawks will be pushed around it’s going to take a heavy dose of Blount. You want to bludgeon the best defense in the league to completely negate the speed they can unleash. I expect both backs to make key plays to steal and/or gain momentum throughout the course of the game. One thing to pay attention to is where both running backs will find creases to gain the tough yards. Vince Wilfork is such an inside force that he will push Lynch, outside and off-tackle, to try to get into Beast Mode.
How will the Patriots deal with Russell Wilson?
If the game is tight in the fourth quarter – and I expect it to be – Wilson begins attacking with his legs in hopes to coax the defenders into the box so he can throw over them. There is a reason why he tends to depend on his elusiveness as the game wanes: defenders get tense and overlook basic technique when it comes to keeping containment.
This is going to be a great game. Look out for Shane Vereen as a receiving threat, Rob Gronkowski along the seams, Doug Baldwin in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, Revis Island, Bobby Wagner, the effectiveness of both offensive lines and the health of Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
My pick: It’s a hard one to call, seriously. Seahawks over Patriots, 24-23.
Championship Sunday: 1-1
Regular Season: 174-82