January 31, 2015

New England Patriots V Seattle Seahawks – Super Bowl XLIX Preview by @DavAulak

University of Phoenix Stadium – Sunday 1st February at 23:30 live on Sky Sports 1

I have been going back and forth about this game ever since it was set two weeks ago, but I think I have perhaps been over thinking things. Both the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks match up well against one another, but I was convinced the NFC is the better Conference and I think Seattle prove that by winning back to back Championships.

I will be absolutely honest with you- I don’t like either of these teams. Being a Miami Dolphin fan means the New England Patriots will always be a big rival, but they have also been very successful and that does breed a little more dislike.

The Seahawks have never really been a team I was overly concerned about, but I can’t be the only person who hates seeing any team with their ‘bandwagon support’ and my dislike comes from the amount of two year fans the Seahawks have picked up.

That does help me clear my head for this game though and look at it from a very cold perspective, which is always the best way when it comes to making picks. I try and put my heart aside when it comes to making picks, but I will admit it couldn’t be any easier in this game!

It does seem like the sharps are all over the under at the moment with that total shrinking over the last two weeks and that is understandable. Despite the 40 plus points that New England scored against Indianapolis, the Patriots are not the quick strike Offense that went unbeaten in the regular season in 2007 and instead take a much more methodical approach to their games.

Seattle are the same, although Russell Wilson can air it out at times, and both Defenses are very strong so this game may be ‘shortened’ with the clock running through plays on the ground and quick passes being completed.

Tom Brady will have success against the Legion of Boom simply because he is unlikely to be testing them deep down the field and instead will look to his possession Receivers like Julian Edelman, Shane Vereen and Rob Gronkowski to take his short passes and produce yards after the catch. LeGarrette Blount is a punishing Running Back, but it won’t be easy for him to produce a big game against this Seattle Defense, while the Seahawks will feel they can rattle Brady with their four man pass rush.

I expect the New England Patriots will use the blueprint set out by the San Diego Chargers in a win over Seattle earlier this season, although the Seahawks are playing better now. Philip Rivers used quick plays to prolong drives in a methodical manner which kept the Seattle Defense out of sync and I imagine New England will try and do the same.

If Blount can get something going on the ground, the Patriots will definitely have a chance to win this game, but the feeling is that the Seattle Defense can keep Brady in third and long on enough occasions to force punts or mistakes.

While the Seattle Secondary will receive all the attention thanks to a nice moniker, the New England Secondary is also one of the best in the NFL. Darrelle Revis is very comfortable in the system ran by Bill Belichick and he will take away one Receiver, although Seattle don’t have one big threat in those positions. Brandon Browner will want to give away some of the secrets of the Seattle Defense to his team, but the Corner Back can sometimes be a penalty machine in the Secondary and Russell Wilson will know that.

On the other hand, Seattle may not need to make big plays against the Secondary with Marshawn Lynch likely to have a good match up against the Patriots run Defense. New England have actually been an improving unit on the ground, but they haven’t faced someone like Lynch who is capable of breaking tackles and creating big gains when there seemingly aren’t any.

Lynch might not have the success early in the game, but his style wears down Defenses and the second half might when he explodes for some big gains. The threat is magnified by the fact that Russell Wilson is capable of getting out of the pocket and making gains on the ground and I think it will be tough for the Patriots unless they jump out to a very big lead.

Wilson helped Green Bay do that with his Interceptions thrown, but it is hard to imagine Seattle making those mistakes again and that should keep the running game very much a part of their plans. I also think the Seattle Defense is going to make enough big plays to keep New England from getting too far ahead and my lean is towards Seattle in this game.

Teams playing in back to back Super Bowls haven’t played that well in recent seasons, although the last two have managed to win the game. Prior to that, 5 in a row had lost when returning to the Super Bowl, although the Buffalo Bills have accounted for 2 of those back when they reached the Super Bowl in four straight seasons.

There are other trends that really do favour Seattle in this game including the fact that New England have lost the last 2 Super Bowls they have played, both against the New York Giants and one of those in this Stadium. The Patriots also have to overcome the statistic that shows teams scoring 40 or more points in the Play Offs are just 3-22 against the spread in their next game.

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks have also raised their game when they meet teams led by Super Bowl winning Quarter Backs and everything is pointing to them being the right side. I do have respect for Bill Belichick and the Defensive game plan he will have put in place with two weeks preparation for this game, but the NFC is the better Conference and I always felt they are the more likely winner of the Super Bowl this season regardless of which team came through.

The NFC are 4-1 in the Super Bowl over the last five seasons and the only exception was the San Francisco 49ers who had shots at the end zone to beat the Baltimore Ravens two years ago. The spread is virtually a pick ’em now so I will just back the Seattle Seahawks to win.

PICK: Seattle Seahawks to Win

By @DavAulak

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