THE ROAD ALWAYS TAKEN: SUPER BOWL 49 PREVIEW
Before I get into my expert insight, I would like to let you know the WPGSN has been sued by ESPN for using their logo design, and I was forced to come up with a new title and logo. So from now on, WPGSN will become In Focus. And also, I would like to give my condolences to Stuart Scott, one of my favourite ESPN anchors. My thoughts go out to the Scott family in this difficult time.
The Road to Super Bowl is a treacherous path. One little mistake could cost you everything, and one big play can make the opposing team pay. In the first Sunday of January, 12 teams entered the NFL playoffs, and on January 18th, only two teams survived. Representing the NFC is the defending champions Seattle Seahawks, and they will go against the champs of the AFC, the New England Patriots. A young, elusive Russell Wilson will soon go head to head against the determined, ambitious veteran Tom Brady.
Both teams had a similar start. The Patriots started 2-2, and the doubts about the best coach/player duo (Bill Belichick and Tom Brady) in the Super Bowl era. The defending Seahawks received similar criticism, and they started 3-3. After a terrific turnaround, the Patriots and Seahawks will go into Glendale Arizona. One team will return as champions, and one team will disappoint a lot of people.
Tom Brady will go to his sixth Super Bowl Game, the most in NFL history. The Patriots are armed with the best defense since their 16-0 season, and fell one win short during that season’s Super Bowl. Tom Brady has developed misfit receivers like Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman and Brandon Lafell into solid trustworthy guys. His tight end, Rob Gronkowski, is one of the most unstoppable players in the NFL. The Patriots from four has tons of talent, with Chandler Jones, Rob Nikovich and Vince Wilfork bringing pressure to opposing quarterbacks. The linebackers feature an athletic group, with second year Jamie Collins and Veteran Akeem Ayers. However, the best part of the Patriots defense, is their secondary. Darrelle Revis is one of the leagues best Cornerbacks, and he could shut down top receivers down. Former Legion of Boom member Brandon Browner causes many penalties, but makes big plays when he needs to. Free Safety Devin McCourty is also very dangerous. He can make interceptions, defend passes and make huge hits. This defense is very hard to exploit.
Russell Wilson and his Seahawks are looking forward to win back-to-back Super Bowls, but to do that, they will have to defeat the team that has already done it, the New England Patriots. Wilson just came off one of the worst postseason performances by any quarterback in history, posting a 44.25 QBR. He had four interceptions to one touchdown in the NFC championship game. This means that to win the Seahawks another Super Bowl, it will probably rely on explosive performances by Marshawn Lynch. Seahawks defense played decent today, but they were not at their best. There were no sacks against a shaky Green Bay offensive line. However, Seattle’s secondary is just as good as the Patriots. If not, better. The secondary features Pro Bowlers like Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman. Earl Thomas III is also a threat to any receiver. The Seahawks offense played awful today, despite the win. Russell Wilson was getting sacked. They were not able to convert many first downs and moved the ball down field. The only touchdown thrown by a Seahawk in regulation was the punter, who was also the first Canadian to throw a touchdown in the NFL Postseason.
KEYS TO THE SUPER BOWL MATCHUP
PATRIOTS: The Seahawks gave up a lot of yards to Eddie Lacy, so utilizing the explosive Legarrette Blount will help. He will be able to drive the ball down field and convert first downs. Tom Brady, as always, will need to play a big role. Like they have been doing all year, the Patriots need to make quick passes on short throws. Gronk will need to be at his best if they decide to take down the Seattle Secondary. On Defense, the Patriots need to apply more pressure on Wilson. If you force him to run, the Hawks will not be able to pick up tons of yards. Stopping Lynch is a priority, as the passing game does not look very excellent at this point. Doug Baldwin will probably be stuck on Revis Island all day, which will mean that Browner will get either the Jermaine Kearse or Luke Wilson matchup. Since Golden Tate and Percy Harvin had left the team, the Seahawks lack receiving weapons. This game will be determined by how Lynch will perform.
SEAHAWKS: It’s no secret that the only way to beat the Patriots is to pressure Tom Brady. No matter how good your secondary or run defense is, the only way to take down hash tag 12 is trying to sack him and force him to throw the ball quicker. That way, he might make some mistakes and the offense can take over. Since the DT position for the Seahawks have suffered a few injuries and had gotten weaker, Blitz formations will be key on stopping the Patriots. The Seahawks need a big performance from Lynch. If Wilson plays the way he did against the Packers, the Hawks will lose. Also, the Patriots secondary is pretty much at the same level as the Seahawks’. Sherman And Revis are similar, except Revis is bigger and can cover the taller receivers a little bit better than Sherman. Therefore, staying on the ground probably will be a better option than aerial attacks. The Seahawks defense will need to watch out for Rob Gronkowski, as he is both big in size and quick on his feet. Bill Belichick will use many trick plays to confuse the Hawks defense and score big points and gain yards. Its like what Troy Aikman said, “The Patriots are like a box of chocolates. You will never know what you will get”. That means that the Seahawks will need to be ready for anything, or they will pay the price.
Packers, Colts, Cowboys, Broncos and Ravens fans, I know that you guys are sad about the losses. However, this will be a great matchup. If the Seahawks capture this ring, they will be one step closer on becoming an official dynasty. If they Patriots win, they will revive their dynasty. Bill Belichick will be the all time postseason wins leader, and Tom Brady will be reward with a fourth ring, tying with Bradshaw and Montana for most rings won by any quarterback. Not only that, Tom Brady will also go from “one of the greatest quarterbacks in history,” to the GREATEST quarterbacks in history. A lot is on the line two Sundays from now, but whatever happens, one dream will continue, and one dream will die.