In just under two weeks, football fans and commercial enthusiasts will be sitting to their yearly treat. That treat is of course, the Super Bowl. The 2014 NFL season has seen some new rules, some modified rules, some upsets and of course some notable plays, from Odell Beckham's catch to Beastquake part two. After an absolute dismantling of the Indianapolis Colts and a picture perfect comeback against the "56 minute wonders," aka the Green Bay Packers, there will be two number one teams facing off in the big game: the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks.
The former dynasty will face off against the team trying to set up the new dynasty. Tom Brady, one of the most successful quarterbacks in NFL history, will face off against Russell Wilson, the young scrambler who has led the Seahawks to three great seasons, a Super Bowl victory and now a second straight Super Bowl. Similarly, Bill Belichick will lead the team across from Pete Carroll. Belichick has three Super Bowl wins and two losses, and has been head coaching on and off in the NFL since 1991, and with the Patriots since 2000. Carroll was the head coach of the Jets and Patriots in the mid and late 1990's but achieved little success, returning to college football, coaching USC for nine seasons. He returned to the NFL in 2010, and three years later he led the Seahawks to the Super Bowl.
Plenty of people thought that last year's Super Bowl would be a great game but it quickly descended into a sad massacre, with the Seahawks mercilessly beating the Denver Broncos. This game will likely not bring a similar outcome but it is the NFL and nobody can accurately predict anything. We're going to try, so here are ten reasons why the Patriots will beat the Seahawks. Let's see some hate from the 12th man in the comments section.
10 Patriots Offensive Line
Both teams will enter the Super Bowl missing one offensive lineman. Patriots' center Bryan Stork is unlikely to play, as is Seahawks tackle Justin Britt. The two lines both performed well throughout the year, as both teams won their conferences and both quarterbacks remained uninjured. The Seahawks and Patriots had the ninth and 11th ranked offenses in the league, in overall yards.
But one major difference is in sack totals. Russell Wilson was sacked 42 times over the course of the 2014 season, while Tom Brady was sacked just 21 times. That is a big difference, and while the Seahawks may have a mean pass rush, and a good group of blockers for Marshawn Lynch, the Patriots' big guys up front can keep Tom Brady safe with far greater effectiveness than those of the Seahawks. Tom Brady remaining on his feet is essential to the Patriots' success and it will happen.
Coaching is almost a moot point in talking about the Patriots taking on the Seahawks. On the one hand, Pete Carroll has established the finest defense the NFL has seen since the mid 80's Bears. But on the opposite side of the field, Bill Belichick has one of the most successful offensive systems the league has ever seen, along with underrated defense. Even when Tom Brady was injured for a year, they still went 10-6. Pete Carroll may be one of the few coaches in the NFL whose brilliance can match Belichick's, but we're still gonna lean in favor of Bill.
Now time for everyone to make jokes about cheating. Go ahead, you're bitter.
8 Better Quarterback
Call the Waaaaaa-mbulance, there are going to be some whiny Seahawks fans after this one, but regardless, Tom Brady is a better quarterback than Russell Wilson. Wilson is better with his legs, but in terms of arm strength, accuracy, and knowledge of his system, Brady is better. While Wilson looked great late against the Packers in the NFC game, Brady still has a cooler head under pressure and will be able to work with his coach and his offensive weapons to defeat the Seahawks.
Tom Brady is a great quarterback who works in a phenomenal system. Russell Wilson is a good quarterback who looks great because his defense wins games.
7 Patriots Front Seven Can Contain Wilson
One of Russell Wilson's strongest points is the fact that he is a fast quarterback with the field vision of a running back. Obviously he can't (shouldn't) run over lineman like a running back, given his importance, but he can use his blocks and can run faster than most QBs in the league. With that said, the Patriots have some fast defenders who should have no trouble keeping him contained. Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich are two solid defensive ends with adequate speed and Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower are sharp at linebacker and will be able to chase him down.
6 More Offensive Weapons
This one comes down to simple math. Both teams have good (at least "good") quarterbacks. They offset, so offensively it's time to do a count of "weapons." At running back, the Seahawks have the most punishing back in the league, Marshawn Lynch. After him they have Robert Turbin and Christine Michael, who ran for 310 and 175 yards all year with no touchdowns. In terms of receivers, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse are better than "mediocre" but they don't add up to a Super Bowl winning pair of wide receivers. Sure, the young guys Paul Richardson and Luke Willson put up some decent numbers throughout the season, but they simply can't match up to what the Patriots' receivers and backs can do.
Tom Brady has far more threats than Russell Wilson. He lost Stevan Ridley early in the season, but Shane Vereen stepped up as a dual threat back, rushing for nearly 400 yards and catching for just over 450 yards, with five all-purpose touchdowns. Jonas Gray went for over 400 yards on the year, but admittedly, most of the yards were against the Colts. Finally, LeGarrette Blount is back and bruised his way to 281 yards on 60 carries with three touchdowns on the ground (not to mention he ran for 148 yards and three TDs last week against the Colts).
Moving to the wide receivers, Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell both caught for over 900 yards with four and seven touchdowns respectively. Danny Amendola underperformed but stepped up in the Patriots' close win over the Baltimore Ravens a couple of weeks ago. Rob Gronkowski and Timothy Wright are two other threats Brady can use. Gronkowski is the best tight end in the league, but more on him later. Wright only caught 26 passes for 259 yards, but six of them were for touchdowns.
5 Wilson Can't Pass Against Patriots' Secondary
The Patriots may not have the flashiest defense in the league and don't have shiny words associated with their team like the "Legion of Boom" (okay, there is "Revis Island"), but they have a mean secondary. Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty are comparable to the Seahawks' safeties, with slightly less hitting power. Brandon Browner only played in nine games this season but knocked down six passes and made a pick. Darrelle Revis however, is every bit as good as Richard Sherman.
The difference is, Tom Brady has plenty of targets he can use against any defense in the league, while Russell Wilson has fewer targets and got lit up by the Packers. He only started to see success when he stopped passing into double coverage and started targeting whoever was lined up against Tramon Williams. With the Patriots D, there will be no Tramon Williams to target. Forgive the tangent, but the bottom line stands: Wilson will have a great deal of trouble passing given that on every play, one side will be a no-go.
4 Patriots Can Handle Marshawn Lynch
During the 2014 season, the Patriots boasted the ninth best rush defense in the league, and while they had some rough games, such as the season opener against Miami (in which nothing worked), they shut down some teams with good run games. In ten games during the season, they kept their opponent to less than 100 rushing yards, and against the Colts in week 11, they gave up just 19 on the ground. That's not a huge feat because, well, it's the Colts, but still, under 20 rushing yards in a game is an accomplishment for any defense.
We can't say that the Patriots will keep Marshawn Lynch under 50 yards, or even 100 yards, but they will be able to keep him from running away with the game for the Seahawks. He is their biggest weapon, but the Pats have the tools to deal with him.
Back in week two, the Seahawks were lit up by the San Diego Chargers and gave up their first loss of the season. The main reason for this loss was Antonio Gates, as the 34 year old caught three touchdowns and exposed what many thought was a weakness in the Seahawks' defense. It's still unclear whether the Seahawks' defensive achilles heel is tight ends, but a week after the loss to the Chargers, Peyton Manning threw touchdowns to Julius Thomas and Jacob Tamme in a losing cause; both tight ends.
In week six, they lost to the Cowboys, with Jason Witten and Gavin Escobar catching touchdown passes. In week nine, they beat the Oakland Raiders by six, but still, the Raiders scored 24 points, with two touchdown passes caught by tight end Mychal Rivera. We can't say the Seahawks are weak against tight ends but they gave up 11 touchdowns to tight ends on the year and two major losses and two close games were largely because of tight end catches. It isn't absolute, but there is a small pattern here.
With that said, Rob Gronkowski is no ordinary tight end. He has elite speed for the position, with the height of an offensive lineman, the hands of a wide receiver, the strength of a defensive lineman and of course, he breaks tackles like a running back. He may well be the best of all time at the position. We already discussed the Patriots offensive weapons, but Rob Gronkowski has so much potential to light up the Super Bowl he deserves his own section on our list; especially after two key Seahawks defenders sustained injuries against the Packers, which leads to point number two.
2 Seattle's Bruised Up Secondary
A major part of the Seahawks' great defense is their secondary, known as the Legion of Boom. While Byron Maxwell is probably the weakest link, he's still better than plenty of the league's other starting corners. Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas are two of the league's meanest safeties and Richard Sherman, well we'll leave it at that.
While "Legion of Boom" is a reference to their hard hitting style, these guys are also all elite in coverage and Richard Sherman is one of the finest ball hawks in the league. Between the four of them, they have eight interceptions on the year, impressive when the league doesn't want to throw against you.
Unfortunately for coach Carroll, two of his defenders were injured against the Packers. Earl Thomas suffered a dislocated shoulder tackling Randall Cobb and Richard Sherman sustained a sprained elbow when he collided with Chancellor pushing James Starks out of bounds. I'm no doctor, but these are injuries that involve ligament damage. A ligament does not repair itself in two weeks and while both of these men will play against the Patriots, they will both be limited in their effectiveness in terms of covering receivers, knocking down balls, and especially tackling. Cortisone will only do so much.
1 No 12th Man in Arizona
This one is plain and simple, that cheering crowd and home field give the Seahawks superhuman strength. They are still good on the road, but unfortunately, they just aren't the same beast. They went 5-3 on the road this year and lost to St. Louis, San Diego and Kansas City, three teams who missed the playoffs. That crowd helps them in a way that is more pronounced than any other team in the league, and the Road Seahawks and Home Seahawks are not the same team.