In the week leading up to the Super Bowl, it seems that every story in the media does not actually relate to the game itself. This year the current version of that has shown itself in the Patriots “Deflate gate” controversy and how it has somehow become the biggest story surrounding the Super Bowl. What is interesting is that the said controversy has absolutely nothing to do with the actual game of football that will be played in Glendale Arizona between the Patriots and Seahawks, so here is an actual look into the two teams will play in the game.
Offense Of course, the Patriots are more known for their offensive prowess than the Seahawks, but both teams have their strengths and weaknesses and ways they will try to exploit their opposition. By this point in time, most fans know what to expect from the New England offense, but why it is so effective is because even though you know what is coming, it is still nearly impossible to stop. Tom Brady has looked nearly as good as ever through this season, especially in the playoffs, and he will lead an offense that has hit its stride right at the perfect moment in the season.
In their two playoff wins, the Patriots have moved the ball in very different ways. In the Divisional round win over the Ravens, they twice fell behind by 14 points and had to crawl back, forcing them to almost exclusively pass the ball. This left them with only 14 yards rushing as a team. LeGarrette Blount flipped that narrative against the Colts and ran for 130 yards on his own in a blowout win. The running game might have to be a factor against the Seahawks, because of their great secondary. If the running game does get going in the Super Bowl, it will most likely fall on the shoulders of Blount, who is their most effective pure runner.
Even though Seattle is known for their tremendous secondary, the Patriots will no doubt try to test them in the passing game. The main weapon of Rob Gronkowski will be leaned upon heavily considering the lockdown ability of Richard Sherman on the outside receivers like Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.
On the Seattle side of things, they will undoubtedly try to control the clock and pound the ball with Marshawn Lynch. Lynch will be leaned on heavily both in the run and pass because at times the Seahawks have had real trouble moving the ball through the air with their lack of elite talent at the receiver position. Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse have both shown at times they can make plays but also have had big drops in crucial times. Before Kearse caught the winning touchdown in the NFC Championship, he could have become the scapegoat if they had lost because he tipped the ball that became Russell Wilson’s fourth interception and nearly cost Seattle the win.
Considering how good the Patriots defense has been, it will be hard for Seattle to move the ball. It will be especially difficult to do so through the air because, like the Seahawks, the Patriots secondary is the strength of their defense. Seattle will have to deal with a New England pass rush that has come on as of late with Chandler Jones. That may help the Seahawks in a way because Wilson’s great strength is making plays outside of the pocket when plays break down, and he may have to be running around a lot in the backfield.
Defense A lot of the comparisons between the two defenses will be focused on the secondaries, and with good reason. They are probably the two best in the league, but both teams have a lot of other strengths on their defenses. Both defensive lines are very good. They are overshadowed by the secondaries, but deserve credit for how much pressure they can put on opposing quarterbacks. Seattle has a ton of speed on their defensive front with Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin, but they are also stout and can hold at the point of attack through Michael Bennett.
Another overlooked part of the Seahawk defense is their linebackers, led by All-Pro Bobby Wagner who does not get the credit he deserves for being one of the best middle linebackers in the NFL. Of course the strength of their defensive unit is the secondary, with the three stars Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. Chancellor might have the toughest assignment of the three in the Super Bowl, because he will have to cover Gronkowski a lot of the game. If any safety in the NFL is up to the task of covering Gronk it is Chancellor, because of his size and strength, but that does not mean the task will be easy. The unheralded member of the secondary, Jeremy Lane came out this week and stated that he did not think Gronk is that good. That comment may come back to bite him if he has to cover the enormous tight end at all in the game.
The Patriots have a very balanced defense and probably the best defense they have had since the 2007 team that finished 18-1. Their strength is also their secondary, led by a rejuvenated Darrell Revis who has returned to being one of, if not the, best corners in the game. He will likely get the job of covering Doug Baldwin, which he is very capable of doing, but the real task for the Patriot defense will be covering receivers down the field when Russell Wilson breaks the pocket and extends plays. That factor of Wilson extending plays will need to be held in check by the defensive line, who will have to do a very good job of filling their lanes and not letting him break containment. Obviously that is easier said than done.
Coaching Debatably this matchup features the two best coaches currently in the NFL. The Patriots Bill Belichick has been the model of coaching in the league since his partnership with Tom Brady started, winning three Super Bowls and getting to two more. Since returning to the NFL after dominating college football at USC, Pete Carroll has done nearly everything right, winning a Super Bowl in only his fourth season for a team that had never won one before his arrival.
Belichick has been the best example of a coach in the salary cap era. He has continued to evolve and keep the Patriots at the top of the league for well over a decade now. Part of his evolution this season was adapting his team to how the league has been changing recently, and it seems as though he may have used Carroll and the Seahawks as his model for how to go about that. During this past offseason, the Patriots spent their money in free agency making their secondary into one of the most dominant in the NFL. It is likely that Belichick did this after watching the Seahawks and Carroll dominate the Broncos in last seasons Super Bowl, who had just come off a convincing win over his Patriots in the AFC Championship,.
Pete Carroll has brought energy and the idea of competing everyday for your right to play to the Seahawks, and it has so far been exactly what the Franchise needed. If Seattle wins this game, he will be the first coach since Belichick to repeat as champions, and that was ten years ago There may not be a clear winner in the coaching department until this game actually plays out, but currently these two are probably the two very best in the NFL. Prediction: Seahawks 27 – 33 Patriots
Commentary By Max Petkevicius
Photo Courtesy of Keith Allison – Creativecommons Flickr License