Heart, soul and Superbowl
Everything you need to know before the world’s biggest sports party
Football fans, rejoice! The Superbowl is once again upon us. The 49th rendition of the greatest gridiron fest in the world will take place on Feb. 1 at the University of Phoenix Stadium between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks. This game could not be anymore evenly matched, as both teams finished 12-4 during the regular season, good for the 1st seed in their respective conferences.
So who has the edge in this game? Can Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom bring the Seahawks to their second straight Lomardi trophy? Or can Tom Brady and the boys from Boston claim football’s Holy Grail for the fourth time in his career?
Here’s some key points of information to take note of before the big dance, whether you’re an avid football junkie or only choose to watch for the ridiculous commercials and Katy Perry’s halftime show.
By the numbers
During the regular season, the Seattle Seahawks’ defense was a force to be reckoned with. The boys from the Pacific Northwest only allowed opposing offences an average of 267 total yards per game and only 185 passing yards per game, the lowest in the NFL by a large amount. The New England Patriots live and die by their ability to throw the football to score points, averaging 38 pass plays per game, compared to only 27 rush plays per game. Speaking of rushing, the Seahawks ran the ball on average 34 times per game and led the league in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. While the Patriots finished in the top half of the league as far as stopping the run (only allowed 104 yards per game on average, good for ninth in the league), the ability of both running back Marshawn Lynch and Quarterback Russell Wilson to run the ball should bode troubles for the Patriots.
The price is…wrong?
Last time the Seahawks and Patriots played, Psy’s “Gangnam Style” was the number 1 song on the charts and Miley Cyrus was still Hannah Montana. The Seahawks, who had home field advantage, won the game 24-23, despite Tom Brady throwing for 395 yards. Fast-forward to today and the gambling gods in Las Vegas have listed the Seahawks to win by the same margin, with the over/under at 48.5 total points. Despite this, 61 per cent of all betting patrons have their money on the Patriots at the time this was being written, according to oddsshark.com. While millions will be placing their bets over the next week or so, early indication seem to say that the majority is siding with the boys from New England.
On like Gronky Kong
Standing at 6’6 and weighing 265 lbs., Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski is a whopping behemoth of a man that strikes fear into the heart of opposing defenses. As Tom Brady’s favorite target, Gronkowski tallied up an amazing 1,124 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns during the regular season, good for first in the league at his position. This should especially scare Seahawks fans, as 41 per cent of the total touchdowns allowed by the Seattle defense have been by opponent Tight Ends. With the Patriot’s formula of feeding him the ball early and often yet to fail them this season, there’s no definite way of stopping Rob Gronkowski from putting up numbers. Seahawks fans can only hope that their defense can contain him.
While Christmas may have been more than a month ago, the Seattle Seahawks received the greatest gift of all during their NFC divisional championship against the Green Bay Packers. With the team down 16-0 at halftime and Russell Wilson already throwing four interceptions, it looked like all was lost for the Seahawks. After a trick play by (Canadian!) Punter Jon Ryan got the Seahawks on the board in the third quarter, rushing touchdowns by both Wilson and Marshawn Lynch brought the Seahawks into the lead before an eventual field goal from the Packers in the dying seconds of the game sent us to overtime. In the extra session, the Seahawks only needed three plays before Wilson threw the game-winning touchdown to punch Seattle’s ticket to the big game. This kind of last second victory isn’t out of the norm for Wilson, as he led the league game winning drives in the fourth quarter with five. Time in and time out, Russell Wilson has shown ability to create magical comebacks that the makers of Rudy. Remember the Titans and Space Jam are green with envy. With one Superbowl championship already under his belt, don’t count out Russell Wilson at any point during this game.
Big Bad Brady
Not to be outdone, Tom Brady isn’t one to be scared away from a challenge. As the all-time leader in playoff touchdown passes (49), passing yards (7,017) and games won (20) as a starting quarterback, there aren’t many guys that you’d want behind center with the entire season on the line. Superbowl XLIX will mark Brady’s sixth appearance in the championship game, with three wins and two losses to his name. During this year’s post season, Brady has completed almost 66 per cent of his pass attempts with just under 300 yards passing in each of his two starts. Brady’s tactics and consistency have bamboozled defenses across the league all year long and that isn’t expected to change come February. Despite the tenacity and swagger that the Seahawk’s defense carries, expect Brady to create havoc and keep the Seattle defense guessing all game long.
Just like old times
After being reacquired in week 12 by the Patriots, running back LeGarrette Blount didn’t miss a beat in Bill Belichick’s system after spending a short time in Pittsburgh. The fourth year running back ran amok against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game, going for 148 yards and scoring three touchdowns. While mentioned earlier that the Patriots are a throw-first, ask questions last kind of team, having a reliable running back that can balance out the offence is a was something that New England was missing earlier in the year. With the scouting report changing drastically within the course of one week, Seattle head coach, Pete Carroll, will have to come up with some new defensive schemes to stop the newly rejuvenated Patriots offence.
All things considered, Superbowl XLIV should be one hell of a game. There’s supporting facts and evidence for both teams to make a solid case at who will be crowned the best team in professional football. While both defenses are very respectable in their own right, I give the Patriots offence a clear advantage over the Seahawks. I think this will ultimately be the key to the Patriots hoisting their fourth Lombardi trophy come Sunday.
My Prediction: Patriots 24, Seahawks 17