Sunday, February 1 at 6:30 PM on NBC: #1 New England Patriots (-1) vs. #1 Seattle Seahawks
The stage is set for the biggest game of the year as the AFC champion Patriots meet the NFC champion Seahawks down in Glendale, Arizona in a battle for the Vince Lombardi trophy. There are several storylines surrounding this year’s Super Bowl: accusations of tampering with footballs, Bill Belichick succeeding Pete Caroll as the Patriots head coach, Revis vs. Sherman, Browner facing his old team, a potential repeat champion facing the last team to repeat, and most importantly the opportunity for Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Patriots to cement themselves as the greatest NFL dynasty.
The key for the Patriots is to get in rhythm early. Establish the run with Legarrette Blount, even if the ground game isn’t working, to set up play action and short passes that will enable the Patriots offense to play up tempo and pick apart the Seahawks defense. Although the Patriots have preferred to get the ball to start the second half, I think they need to receive the opening kickoff if they get the chance here. Gronk and Edelman will be key, but they will also be the main focus for the Seahawks so it will be important for Lafell, Amendola, and Vereen to make key plays, especially on third down. For the defense, the focus will be on containing Marshawn Lynch and keeping Russell Wilson in the pocket. The secondary should be able to handle the likes of Baldwin and Kearse, but there’s only so much they can do if Wilson is consistently extending plays.
The key for Seattle is the same as for anyone who plays the Patriots. They will have to get pressure on Tom Brady and disrupt the rhthym of the offense. Taking away the short passes on third down and shutting down Gronk in the red zone will be important as well. The secondary needs to be alert at all times, several runs and quick passes can make you more tempted to blitz but every once in awhile there will be a play action deep pass on single-covered receiever so the secondary needs to prevent big plays. Obviously, Wilson will need to play a lot better than he did in the NFC championship. Part of how he will do this is if Lynch gets going on the ground early. That allows the Seahawks to run read-option plays where Wilson will often keep it and confuse the defense.
I am not going to make a prediction this time, instead I’ll leave that up to you in the poll down below.
As always, thanks to everyone who read this post.