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Super Bowl XLIX Preview: Patriots vs Seahawks

SB49

SUPER BOWL XLIX
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS vs SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Sunday, February 1, 2015. 6:30 p.m. EST, NBC

Finally, after another great NFL season, the Super Bowl is upon us. This is one of the best matchups we have seen in a long time. The clear-cut two best teams in each conference are facing off for their chance at history. The Seahawks are the reigning, defending, undisputed champions of the world. They will be taking on a dynasty led by the greatest head coach and quarterback combo in NFL history, and now, they have a defense for the first time in a long time. The Legion of Boom will do all that they can to slow down a future Hall of Fame QB and the three time champion Patriots. On the other side of the ball, the newly revitalized Pats’ defense will try to find a way to at least slow down Beast Mode and contain a blossoming young QB in Russell Wilson. There are a ton of intriguing storylines and matchups heading into Super Bowl Sunday. Since the only fantasy leagues left at this point are playoff challenges, we will also let you know who you should roll with.

Story Lines

“DeflateGate”

This is one of the most ridiculous stories of the year in my humble opinion. Really? The world is all fired up about how inflated the footballs were in a game. Let’s be honest, how many people really knew that a football needed to be inflated to at least 12.5 PSI before last week? Now you’re in an uproar about it! This is a case of a polarizing team having a seemingly silly “scandal” get blown out of proportion during a time when little else is going on. The two top trending things in the world of “sports” this week were DeflateGate and Roman Reigns. So there you go.

Here is how it works for about 90 percent of people. If you like the Patriots you can look up a ton of evidence that points to their innocence. If you dislike the Patriots you can look up even more evidence that the Pats are guilty. Most people don’t want the facts, they want to be proven right. Congrats everybody, you can be vindicated. Now-a-days in our social media age, people would rather be negative than positive so everything is a “scandal”. Do I think they deflated the balls? Probably. Do I care? Not really. This should have been a footnote of a story. However, thanks to forums, twitter and facebook groups, it’s a scandal.

If you want a fun story that everyone can jump on, how about Alex Rodriguez training with Barry Bonds. You all hate them don’t you? I’m sure some people can come up with a few clever memes about that one.

Marshawn Lynch

Lynch has become public enemy No. 1 and finds himself in Rodger Goodells crosshairs. As we know, the commissioner is always diligent in protecting the integrity of the NFL and only focuses on what really matters. That must be why he threatened to suspend Lynch from the NFC Championship game for wearing gold cleats. While Lynch is not the most cooperative player in the league, Goodell’s ego is clearly getting the best of him. That should be a shock to no one.

Why is Lynch being punished more than any other player? If LeGarrette Blount (for example) came out in gold cleats, no one would say anything and he’d quietly be fined during the week. What gives the NFL the right to single out Lynch? Because he’s not as personable in interviews as Goodell would like? Now the NFL is imposing stricter penalties on Beast Mode. The best part is that Lynch does not care and it’s glorious. If he scores a touchdown, he’s still probably going to grab his crotch and deal with the ramifications. How tremendous will it be if he wins the MVP and Goodell has to hand him his trophy, then he grabs his crotch and only says one word for the entire interview. He is literally capable of saying anything and there is no one I want to see win the MVP more.

Quarterback Legacies

Tom Brady will attempt to propel himself to the highest pedestal with a fourth Super Bowl victory. With Four championships, two more AFC championships and most playoff records, he would be more accomplished than Joe Montana as a playoff QB. This game is huge for the legacy of both Brady and the Pats.

Wilson looks to win his second title in just his third season. Somewhat ironically, Wilson is very similar to Brady. Not the way he plays the game, but his accomplishments and the way he is viewed by the masses. Many consider him a game manager on an elite team and not an elite quarterback. Brady was stuck with the same stigma as a young QB. It will be hard to say anything negative about the young QB if he can add a Super Bowl MVP to his trophy case.

Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas Injuries

Sherman sprained his elbow in the NFC Championship game and Thomas separated his shoulder. They are arguably the two most important players on the Seahawks. Although you can make a strong case for a few other players as well. How healthy these two guys are could be the difference in the game. We really have no idea what kind of condition either player is in. We do know that odds are they’re both less than 100 percent.

Darrelle Revis vs Richard Sherman

Before Revis signed with the Pats, he and Sherman had a beef after Sherman was running his mouth. It seemed like just a lot of noise at the time, then Sherman backed it up and Revis wasn’t as elite last season in Tampa after tearing his ACL the previous season. Sherman declared himself the greatest corner in the world and downgraded Revis. Revis for the most part took the high road. Let his play and contract speak for him. Both guys are the elite of the elite. Perhaps one guy will have a huge Super Bowl moment and separate themselves from the other. If it’s Sherman, lord knows we’ll hear about it. But if he earns the right, then who can fault him?

 

Who to start

Quarterbacks

Tom Brady
Brady will be facing the Legion of Boom this week, which is never good news. However, there is some good news. Sherman will be playing with torn ligaments in his elbow and Thomas has a dislocated shoulder. Both guys are expected to be a full go, nevertheless, the assumption is they will be at least somewhat limited. We still don’t expect Brady to light them up. What we do expect is that the injuries will limit their big play ability.

Russell Wilson
Wilson may really have his hands full this Sunday. His pass-catchers are clearly overmatched by the talented Patriots’ secondary. Darrelle Revis will most likely take away Doug Baldwin and Brandon Browner will be on Jermaine Kearse. The issue is the whole crew just isn’t overly talented, especially compared to the Pats nine-deep secondary.

Matters may be even further complicated for Wilson. He led all QBs in rushing this season and uses the read-option as one of his most lethal weapons. The Pats will deploy second-year linebacker Jamie Collins to shadow and contain him. If you watch the kid play, he may be capable of doing just that. After facing Collins twice this season, Andrew Luck declared him the most underrated defender in the league. Keep an eye on him.

Verdict
Start Brady. He should outperform Wilson by a decent margin.

 

Running Backs

There are really three legitimate options here. You can opt for Lynch, Blount or Shane Vereen. Beast Mode is obviously just a monster. He may be the most violent runner of this generation. When you watch him run, he must be the RB that defenders most dread tackling. We know he’s great, but on the other hand we also know that Bill Belichick will do all he can to take Lynch away. They have the personnel to focus on the run and not worry about the wideouts. It will be up to Lynch to overcome Belichick’s schemes.

Blount has been great since returning to New England. He had his way with the Colts in the AFC Championship game, rushing for 148 yards and three TDs on 30 carries. Much like Lynch, Blount is a punishing power back and if he can get going in this game, the Seahawks may be in serious trouble.

Vereen is all PPR value. If the Pats decide to spread out the Seahawks and throw it all night, he could have a monster game. If they decide to pound the ball, then he’s pretty much useless. He is a risk/reward play.

Verdict
Start Lynch. There is a reason they call him Beast Mode.

 

Wide Receivers

The Pats have some decent receivers. Nobody great but they fit the system well. Edelman is a must play on PPR value alone. You have to go back to October to find the last time he didn’t catch at least five passes in a game. He has also caught at least seven passes in the past six games. So he’s in. So now we need to find a WR2. The true options are Brandon LaFell, Baldwin and Kearse. I guess you can throw in Danny Amendola as a darkhorse as well but he’s tough to trust.

LaFell is the Patriots biggest threat on the outside. He tends to line up on the left sideline which means he most likely will not have Sherman on him. Byron Maxwell is no slouch, however, he is the guy that most teams attack on the outside of the Seahawks’ secondary. So LaFell will get his opportunities if nothing else.

Baldwin is definitely the Seahawks most talented WR. The issue is he will find himself on Revis Island. While Baldwin is better than all the other Seahawks pass-catchers, he is not better than Revis. We fully expect him to be shutdown.

Kearse doesn’t have a much easier task with Browner on him. And if he is at all productive, the Pats will just put a second guy on him and take him away. So unless you want to roll with Ricardo Lockette, the Seahawks WRs aren’t looking so hot.

Verdict
Start Edelman and LaFell. You’re better off taking a chance on a mid-level WR being covered by an injured Sherman than a healthy Revis.

 

Tight Ends
This conversation starts and ends with Rob Gronkowski. He is the best TE in football and there is no other option. Just to pile on, the Seahawks allowed 11 TDs to TEs this season. Only two teams allowed more. Gronk has caught a TD in five straight games and 10 TDS in the last 10 games. This isn’t exactly rocket science. Not when you’re other option is Luke Wilson.

Verdict
Gronk

 

Predictions

Final Score
Patriots: 23
Seahawks: 20

Super Bowl MVP
Jamie Collins

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