The Patriots come into this game after overcoming Deflate Gate. Over the past two week their have been multiple reports of varying stories about what actually lead to these balls being under deflated at halftime. The only real thing that matters is the Pats beat the Colts in the second half 28-0 with correctly inflated footballs.
The Seahawks come into this game after overcoming one of the biggest deficits ever in NFL Postseason history. The main storyline from that game comes down to: Did the Seahawks win, or did the Packers loose?
When we look at the NFC Postseason, there have been bad calls that have lead to the wrong team winning. In the Wild Card round the multiple calls/no calls on the pass interference and holding, on Romo’s game winning TD, lead to Cowboys to victory over the Lions. The Cowboys the following week ran into another call/no call on Dez Bryant’s no catch at the goal line on 4th down. This lead to a Packers victory and they went to Seattle. In Seattle the Packers were up 19-7 in the 4th quarter and they blew the game. That included bad play calling, bad defense, bad special teams, and some credit will be given to the Seahawks fight. The Packers end up loosing in OT, after barley surviving the week prior. If trends continue, the Seahawks will jump out to an early lead against the Patriots, but soon thereafter give up the lead and loose the game.
The big matchup in this game is the vaunted Seahawks defense vs. the Patriots offense. The big star matchup is Rob Gronkowski vs. Kam Chancellor or Bobby Wagner. This is where the game could be won or lost. If the Seahawks think they can slide a Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, or even KJ Wright they will surly be mistaken. Gronk likes to use his power and putting smaller defenders on him will cause him to have a big game. Now the Seahawks defense has been great against TE since Bobby Wagner came back in week1 12, however, they have not faced a double-headed attack like Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright.
The Seahawks offense comes into this game looking to pound the ball with their star running back Marshawn Lynch. The Patriots struggle against teams that run a zone-blocking scheme compared to a straight man blocking scheme. Vince Wilfork is their key to stopping the run, but against a zone-blocking scheme he has to get through the line than attack down the line to get the running back. I feel the bigger key to stopping the run will be DEs Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich being patient. With Jones and Ninkovich being on the edge, they need to lock in on Wilson and make sure he doesn’t escape outside the pocket. Simply put the Seahawks will not throw the ball for more than 150 yards in this game. Seahawks WRs are below average, while they go up against the best cornerback combination in the NFL (Browner, Revis).
I predict this game to be one sided. This game will not be as “close” as everyone expects. I believe the first half to have more scoring than the second half. The Seahawks may be able to run the ball, but when they fall behind it will be tough for them to throw the ball for any success at all against the Pats secondary. This Patriots defense is amazing in the second half. Here is a list of their last 9 games and the amount of second half touchdowns the Patriots have given up:
Patriots Second Half TDs given up
|Week 11: Colts||1|
|Week 12: Lions||0|
|Week 13: Packers||0|
|Week 14: Chargers||0|
|Week 15: Dolphins||0|
|Week 16: Jets||0|
|Week 17: Bills||0|
|Divisional Round: Ravens||1|
|AFC Championship Game: Colts||0|
Get ready to add the Seahawks to that list. I see the Hawks going into the half with a 13-10 lead. In the second half is where the Patriots will take over and dominate to get the win. The final score will be 24-16 New England Patriots.
MVP: Tom Brady: 305 yards passing, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 6 rushing yards with 1 TD