29 January 2015

Super Bowl XLIX Predictions

Does it not seem like just yesterday that we were kicking off the 2014 NFL season back in September? Well that was five months ago and we have whittled down from 32 teams with hopes to win the Lombardi Trophy to only two. The New England Patriots are looking to win their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history and their first in a decade. The Seattle Seahawks are looking for their second Super Bowl in team history and to become the first team to repeat as Super Bowl since the Patriots did it in Super Bowl XXXIX. This is the second straight season where the top seeds in both conferences find themselves playing for it all.

There can only be one NFL champion, so who will win Super Bowl XLIX?

New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks - NBC, 6:30
As I mentioned in the introduction, both clubs were the top seeds in their respective conference so you know that both teams are pretty damn good. Of course, we thought the same thing about last year's Super Bowl and we all know how that turned out.

If you believe in momentum, then certainly both teams would have it. Remember when it was thought that the Patriots were done after getting waxed by the Chiefs in Week 4? Well they have only lost twice since (at Green Bay  in Week 13 and in a meaningless game against the Bills in Week 17) and have looked dominant much of the way. They rallied from a sizable deficity to defeat the Ravens in the Divisional Playoffs and then dominated the Colts in the AFC Championship Game. Say what you want about the so-called "Deflategate," the Pats have been playing some damn good football over the past few months.

Although there was not as much discussion over the Seahawks' slow start as there was for the Patriots, Seattle did in fact get off to a slower start than they would have liked as they were sitting in mid-October with a 3-3 record after a disappointing loss in St. Louis, their second loss in a row. They have rolled since and they have only dropped only one game since, that coming in Kansas City in Week 11. They outlasted an inferior Panthers team in the Divisional round and then pulled off a stunning and shocking comeback against the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. As many of you know I'm a Green Bay fan and I need not say more.

All in all, this is a pretty even Super Bowl amongst teams that have very different styles on each side of the ball, while executing extremely well. If you are looking for excellent, in-depth breakdowns of this game, I recommend checking out both Bill Barnwell and Greg A. Bedard.

All in all, I like the Patriots. First off, I do not think that the Legion of Boom is entirely healthy with Richard Sherman coming off an elbow injury and Earl Thomas with a shoulder that dislocated two weeks ago. I do not think that either will be hobbled but I also do not think either will be 100%, leaving them more exploitable than normal by Tom Brady.

Second, the Patriots' run defense will be able to slow down the potent Seattle rushing attack just enough. The Packers held them in check for much of the NFC Championship (except for when it, well, mattered the most), and the Patriots have a better run defense than the Packers do. While the Patriots do struggle at the line of scrimmage, they are the best team in football at preventing long runs down the field. They did only allow two runs of at least 20 yards all season.

And finally, I think the Patriots have more to prove than the Seahawks do. Of course, that's a relatively flimsy reason but alas. It will have been a decade since the last time the Patriots last won a Super Bowl as mentioned earlier and after losing in their last two appearances to the New York Giants, I think they will be more hungry than a Seattle club that just won it all. Plus I think the club will use the Deflategate shenanigans as some sort of fuel to propel them to their fourth Lombardi Trophy.

Patriots 17 Seahawks 13

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ben
    As you said, this is a really tough call and a great case can be made for both teams. The Hawks are lucky to be here but, as Merlin Olsen used to say, "good teams take advantage of their opportunities...". Green Bay gave the Hawks theirs and they took it. The Pats had their scare against the Ravens and were allowed back in it by an unusually charitable Ravens' D. So both have had scares.
    Both have different offensive strengths which they play to - the Hawks rush well, the Pats less so. The Pats can throw long more often due to their dynamic receivers, the Hawks don't really do have this or do this.
    The Hawks D is superb and New England's is very good. The Hawks won't let you run, though Green Bay had surprising success in the first half. The Pats are mean against the run too.
    All very close.
    So it may well come down to special teams. Both have good FG kickers. I am wondering if a turnover on special teams may make the difference.
    I disagree about the Pats being hungrier, though I can understand why you would make that point. I think the Hawks showed their hunger by finding a way over a the Pack, who were the better team on the day if truth be told.
    Like you, I agree it will not be a high scoring game but it will be a fittingly close one. Seahawks 17 Patriots 13 (the reverse of your score prediction).