Welcome back to the Ring. My humble apologies to my public, I have been MIA since last Monday’s “Heckle”. As I have stated in previous posts this article isn’t how I make my living. My other job has been occupying my time greatly in the last week or so. Anyway, enough with the excuses, let’s get on with this week in “Midweek Musings”. As the Super Bowl is a mere 4 days away, this week’s “Musings” will be a “Super Bowl Preview” of sorts. If you are wondering what that means…it means that I will indeed go over what I think will happen on Sunday, February 2, in Glendale, but on top of that I will try to make sense of what we are going to see on the field this coming Sunday. I don’t think the masses (the on the fringe Sports fan) understand what they will be seeing on Sunday afternoon. They are about to witness what it is like to watch two teams vie for the future of the NFL. The Patriots want to continue to their decade and a half of dominance, and the Seahawks want to cultivate what they have been creating for the past 3 to 4 years and sustain that into the dominance that they see across from them. All in all this should be a Super Bowl for the ages (regardless of what the actual final score may be….yea, it’s going to be one of those kinds of games.).
I am going to do a little back history on both teams as well as their roads to this Super Bowl. I will end with who (in my opinion) is going to walk away with the Lombardi Trophy.
(I have been sick for the past 2 ½ days otherwise I would have posted this on Wednesday, instead of Saturday morning. Either way it is still relevant so whatever I guess.)
Entrance into the NFL: 1976 (Expansion team)
Playoff Appearances: 14
Divisional Titles: 2 AFC West (‘88, ‘99), 7 NFC West (‘04-’07, ‘10, ‘13, ‘14)
Conference Championships: 3 NFC (‘05, ‘13, ‘14)
Super Bowl Titles: 1 (‘13)
The Seahawks started the first half of the regular season with a record of 4-3, they had just beat Carolina 13-9 after losing two in a row prior to that (both close ones to the Rams, and the Cowboys). People wondered whether the Defending Champs had it in them to even make the playoffs. Then the Champs turned it on. They went 8-1 from that point on and took the NFC West from the Arizona Cardinals. The Seahawks showed the Nation that the death of their (hopefully) dynasty was all too premature.
The off-field distractions were numerous as well in 2014. There was a rumor that some players in the Seahawks locker room didn’t think that Russell Wilson was “Black enough” for their liking. Earl Thomas of course had to come out and debunk this notion. Even calling it “an insult to our race”. Regardless of the validity of the rumors, the distraction was there to compound the sluggish 3-3 start that capped of the first ⅕ of their season. Just like everything else though, winning cures a lot of “distractions” and going 8-1 definitely was what the doctor ordered.
The Seahawks dispatched of the Carolina Panthers rather easily. Even though the Panthers only trailed 14-10, the Seahawks looked to be in control and proved it in the decisive 4th quarter (outscoring the Panthers 17-7).
The Packers game will both go down as….. a game to forget, as well as the great comeback in the history of the NFC Championship Game. The Seahawks looked dead to rights, but they got what they needed with only 4 minutes left in the game and stole the game in OT. Russell Wilson showed what kind of Superstar he is becoming in this game.
Heading into Super Bowl XLIX
The Hawks are going to have to get off to a better start in the Super Bowl, then they did in the NFC Championship Game. If they stake the Patriots to a 13-0 1st quarter lead, it may be a blowout we haven’t seen since….well….last year.
On Offense they are going to have to do what they do best. Run Beastmode 20-30 times in the game and hopes he goes 145 yards/2 TDs. If Marshawn can do that the Seahawks will have a very good chance of repeating as Super Bowl Champions
On Defense they are going to have limit how much production Rob Gronkowski will get in the game. If “Gronk” can go somewhere around 8 catches/120 yards/2 TDs, the Seahawks are going to be in trouble.
New England Patriots
Entrance into the NFL: 1970 (AFL/NFL merger, was original AFL team – 1960)
Playoff Appearances: 22
Divisional Titles: 1 AFL East (‘63), 15 AFC East (‘78, ‘86, ‘96, ’97, ‘01, ‘03-’14)
Much like the Seahawks, the Patriots got off to a rough start at the beginning of the regular season. They got off to a 2-2 start. This included a Season Opening loss to divisional rival Miami, and a pasting against the Chiefs on Monday Night Football. There were even talks around the media circles (and fan bases around the country) that Brady may be getting old and the Patriots may be fading soon. Then the Patriots do what they always do, they got hot and they kept winning. They won 10 out of their last 12 games (the finale against Buffalo had nothing riding on the line so in reality they won 10 of their last 11 meaningful games).
The off-field distractions weren’t as bad as say the Seahawks, but it was just as intense. Whether it was the talk of Brady being “too old”, or the perceived lack of a running game (that they resolved by signing LaGarrette Blount after he was cut by the Steelers late in the year); the Patriots put all that behind them to win yet another AFC East Title. They look for their 4th Super Bowl Title (this is their third try at the accomplishment)
For the Patriots it was a completely different scenario, than it was for the Seahawks. The game that they were supposed to lose (and then face media scrutiny about whether Brady and Belicheck could ever win the big one again) was their Divisional Round Win against the Ravens. The Patriots won 35-31 despite trailing by 14 points twice throughout the game. The Patriots looked ripe for the picking against the younger, much more athletic Colts (lead by up and coming Superstar Andrew Luck). It was “the battle of 12s”. In the end the final score was 45-7 (and it wasn’t even as close as that score would indicate) and the Patriots were heading to their 8th Super Bowl, hoping to win #4.
Even deflategate couldn’t stop them. Though we did get to hear from EVERYONE, and I mean everyone (from Bill Nye to Joe Montana; all the way down to Forbes magazine. I will be interested to see what the NFL does after the Super Bowl, but from the looks of things it may not be much (if anything at all).
Heading into Super Bowl XLIX
The Pats are going to have to come out with some Offensive urgency tomorrow in Glendale, Arizona. If they decided to get behind by two TDs at any point in the game (let alone twice in the game) they can kiss their chances at ring #4 good-bye. The Seahawks are about as good as anyone out in front with a 14 point lead (just like the Patriots in that way).
On Offense the Patriots are going to have to protect Tom Brady from the pressure. They are going to have to give him lanes to step up in, a pocket to move around in. Also they are going to have to run the ball (collectively) about 20-25 times in the Super Bowl to be effective on offense. They don’t need 100+ yards like the Seahawks do. If the Pats can get about 86-96 yards of Offense from the RBs if will be a successful endeavor (if anyone of those backs goes off by themselves it is just icing on the cake at that point). They are also going to have to use Gronk as a weapon. They always d, but they are going to have to look his way a lot on Sunday. He is the one weapon that neither side has an answer for, it should be interesting to see how the Patriots utilize him on Offense.
On the defensive side of the ball the Patriots have to keep it really simple: Who do you want to beat you? Are you going to let Russell Wilson confound you and thus let Beastmode run wild? Or are you going to do everything to contain and corral Russell Wilson and just take your chances that Beastmode can’t beat you singlehandedly? If I am the Patriots I personally go for the second option. Is Marshawn Lynch a load? Yes he is. Is he going to beat you singlehandedly? Probably not. It is easier said than done, but that should be the defensive game plan going in.
Final Thoughts from the mind of a Madman
So as Super Bowl XLIX draws nigh the anticipation is being turned up all across the Nation. In my opinion this is going to be a great Super Bowl. It may not be the Offensive showcase that everyone thinks it is going to be, but it will showcase all the talent that is going to be on the field on Sunday. I think the Patriots do enough to corral Russell Wilson, and limit Marshawn Lynch. On the opposite side of the field I believe that the Seahawks will do enough to contain Tom Brady. The game will be close but in the end it is going to come down to the potential Super Bowl MVP, Rob Gronkowski. I think in the end he catches 2 TDs (the 2nd one being the game winner), the Pats support that with 2 FGs and I think they beat the Seahawks 20-17. I also think that this may be the swan song for the Patriots as this may be their last time at the dance. Even though the Seahawks lose this one I think they come back next year and return to Levy Stadium for Super Bowl XLX (and potentially win it regardless of whom they see across from them).
Aside from that, I am looking forward to all of the new Super Bowl Commercials.
Thanks for stopping by and I will see you after the Super Bowl for my reactions to the game. Cheers all!