And then there were two. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we have arrived. What a game we have before us. Does it get any better than these two franchises? How about the coaches? Maybe the quarterbacks? The simple answer is now and the it is resounding. The AFC Champion New England Patriots will meet the NFC Champion and Reigning Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks this Sunday for Super Bowl XLIX. In all honesty, this is as good as it gets for the NFL. Last year, both number one seeds in the AFC and NFC met in the Super Bowl and it was anything but pretty as Seattle smothered the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning on their way to the franchises first Super Bowl title. This year plans to be totally different and with all due respect to Denver, these New England Patriots are a different animal.
The Main Storyline: Legacy
Of course it is when Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are playing in an unprecedented 6th big game as quarterback-coach combo. However, it is also the Seahawks legacy that is at stake as they will look to become a full-fledged dynasty with a win over New England. A win in the grandest stage of all against both Peyton Manning AND Tom Brady will solidify this Seahawks squad as one of the all-time greats. That is what Seattle plays for. New England is playing for all of the talk, adversity and relentless accusations against them. For how far they have come, all New England wants to do on Sunday is shut everybody up and the only way to do that is to win.
Player to know on Offense for the Patriots: Julian Edelman – Wes Welker look away, not only has Julian Edelman made the shift slot receiver an afterthought in New England, but if Edelman comes up big in the Super Bowl then Pats fans will forever forget all Welker had contributed. I do believe Edelman will have a great game and am excited to watch him go against the Seahawks Legion of Boom. If anybody knows how badly Tom Brady wants this game, it is Edelman and he will look to validate his QB as the greatest of all time with a strong performance and a victory.
Player to know on Offense for Seattle: Marshawn Lynch – It was just three weeks ago in the divisional round against Baltimore when New England was gashed on the ground for 136 yards on 28 carries. That was against a small, shifty runner in Justin Forsett. Marshawn Lynch is a completely different animal. Lynch is undoubtedly one of the best backs in the NFL and can wreck a game with one handoff out of the backfield. Lynch will get his in this game and if depending on whether or not he explodes will decide the victor in this one. For Seattle, its all on Beast Mode.
Player to know on Defense for New England: Jamie Collins – Collins stormed the NFL scene last postseason with a breakout performance against the Indianapolis Colts. He progressed into one of the more complete linebackers in the league this season totaling 116 total tackles with 4 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions and 4 sacks. Collins also makes a living in coverage where he can line up against any position ranging from running back to tight end. The reason Collins is the player to know is because of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s ability to perform the read-option. With the read-option in play, Collins will be asked to spy Wilson on a number of plays so that Wilson can’t break the game open with his legs.
Player to know on Defense for Seattle: Michael Bennett – There really should be an asterisk here as the whole Seattle defensive line is key in this game but let’s zero in on Mr. Bennett. Look at how New England was conquered in the last two Super Bowls in which they were involved. The New York Giants did a phenomenal job of pressuring Tom Brady from all angles and that is the task for Seattle’s defense and Michael Bennett in particular. Bennett excels in getting up the field quickly along with his fellow defensive lineman. If Bennett has enough success to make Tom Brady uncomfortable then it will be a long day for Tom Brady and co.
X-Factor for New England: LeGarratte Blount – Same as my AFC Championship X-Factor, Legarrette Blount will need to be the key player for the New England Patriots. Along with Shane Vereen on the draw play, Blount needs to have some form of success against this impressive, yet thin defensive front for Seattle. If Blount can find a way to get 100 yards and a score then New England will be in good shape on Offense.
X-Factor for Seattle: Kam Chancellor – I understand, no, I know for a fact that Chancellor will not be exclusively used on Gronkowski because you can’t show Gronk one look or else he will figure out how to beat you. However, I do foresee Chancellor being the one member of the Legion of Boom to actually bring the BOOM. Earl Thomas, regardless of how he says he feels, has a dislocated shoulder and will be limited in some sort of way. I’m not saying he will be a weak link but a dislocated shoulder plus tackling equals ouch so that won’t be easy. Richard Sherman also had a sprained elbow and although he should be his typical shutdown self, he likely will be slightly more lenient with that elbow. That leaves Chancellor to strike the fear of God into these Patriots receivers. A job easier said than done. He will mostly see Gronk on Sunday but he needs to bring every bit of his physical nature to this game.
Why New England will win: New England will win because, simply, its time. It is time for Tom Brady to get back to the top. It is time for Belichick to shut everybody up and it is simply time, again, for the Patriots to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Edelman wants it, Brady wants it, Belichick definitely wants it and Revis sure as hell wants it. This team is ready and more talented than they have EVER been and they will show it Sunday.
Why Seattle will win: Nobody knows better than the opponent about what it is like to repeat. The Seahawks have gotten through a lot to get to this point and you have to admit that after the ups and downs throughout their year, to get back to the Super Bowl is pretty impressive. I have looked at this game for the Seahawks and know it will come down to Lynch. If Beast mode does his thing, they win. If he is held to under 100, most likely they lose.
Prediction: I expect one of the greatest Super Bowls in our lifetime to happen on Sunday. In fact, screw lifetime, I am expecting this to be one of the best EVER. The Patriots are ready for this moment, as are the Seahawks. The margin of error in this game will be almost non-existent. These are two of the better teams in the league when it comes to turnover differential and I believe the one who turns the ball over the most gets the victory. I think this Patriots defense has been overshadowed by Seattle’s D and also slightly underrated going into this game. Look for Devin McCourty to come out and have a critical interception and look for an MVP performance from Tom Brady to lead the Patriots to their 4th Super Bowl victory.