Seahawks By Seven

Sometimes you just need to get right to the point. For those of you who have forgotten, in the midst of media-created “scandal” and getting trolled by Marshawn Lynch, there’s actually a football game being played on Sunday. Many people are speculating that this is going to be a great game; then again, that was the popular school of thought last year as well. Seattle is going to win their second straight Super Bowl, because Seattle is a better team than New England.

The best team doesn’t always win when teams go head to head. Upsets are a huge part of sports and they happen all the time (the Patriots know all about upsets in big games). Hell, the best team in the NFC Championship Game (at least on that day) didn’t win because they let their guard down a few minutes early. Without any major outside factor contributing to an increased chance of an upset, however, I’m taking Seattle. They are simply a better team than the Patriots. They have a better defense undoubtedly, and despite some pundits saying that their offense is the weakest unit between the two teams, I would counter that sentiment by stating that when Seattle needs to score, they do.

Seattle played horrendously for 55 minutes against Green Bay. The offense was bad, the defense wasn’t quite as good as normal. They should have lost that game, in fact they should have lost it badly. But they won, and if they can win a game against a team like Green Bay when they play poorly for 92% of a game, imagine what they could have done if they had played well, or even decently. Yes, New England has a better defense than Green Bay does, but Seattle has an offense that is capable of putting up a decent amount of points against the Patriots. Their offense is not going to be a hindrance like many people expect it to be.

The one true X-factor in this game, for lack of a better term, is Rob Gronkowski. If Gronkowski is able to get separation from the Seahawks’ secondary (and he doesn’t need much), Tom Brady will be able to target him plenty throughout the game. Gronk opens up the options for New England on the outside and also helps alleviate some of the pressure on the running game. He is the best receiving threat in this game for either team, and I’d expect Brady to be relentless in passing to his beast of a tight end. The safeties for Seattle are going to have their hands full all game with #87 for New England. It will be interesting to see how Pete Carroll and Dan Quinn scheme against Gronk. Earl Thomas is arguably the best free safety in the league, and where he is positioned on the field could frankly shift the offense strategy, at least somewhat, in a different direction. Kam Chancellor, however, is going to be the one mostly responsible for Gronkowski.

Chancellor is a freak. The man can hit like he’s a freight train and jump like he’s Andrew Wiggins (his jumps over the line on Carolina’s field goal attempt a few weeks back still has me in awe). He is an incredible athlete, no doubt about it. His biggest flaw, however, is that he is spotty at best in pass coverage. He will not only need to physical with Gronkowski, but he also needs to be able to defend passes. It’s not enough to just set up a clash of the titans over the middle; he actually needs to stop Gronk from catching the ball. Brady will get the ball to his man by hook or by crook, but the more Seattle can limit him, the easier their win will be. Expect help from the athletic Seahawks linebacks on Gronkowski to try to limit him as much as possible. Julian Edelman is a fine player and Brandon LaFell had a good season, but if I’m Josh McDaniels, Tom Brady and the rest of the offense, I don’t necessarily want to put a chance at becoming world champions solely on their backs. The Patriots go as Gronkowski goes in the Super Bowl.

Offensively for Seattle, Russell Wilson is of course the catalyst for the entire offense, what with his ability to pass accurately, make good decisions and run effectively, but Marshawn Lynch is going to be the key. Lynch’s success sets up the rest of the offense. If Lynch can run well, it makes the read option attack much more effective. There is less pressure on the air attack, Wilson can make more successful plays with his legs, everything just comes together when Lynch is having a good game. The Patriots will need to contain Captain Skittles as much as possible. Wilson can sling it, and their receivers are better than they get credit for, but if the Seahawks need to rely on the passing game, it could be much more of a struggle for them throughout the game. Marshawn Lynch’s success is more crucial to the team overall than the individual success of any other player on the Seattle roster.

Seattle is going to win this game, I’m sure of it. If they lose, I will gladly post about just how wrong I was with my prediction. I don’t see that happening though. The Seahawks have proven that they can beat anyone. It doesn’t matter who the other team’s weapons are, who the other quarterback is, they can win. They started the season slow but they have been on a roll for the second half of the season into the playoffs. I can’t say I’m looking forward to the “Look! The Patriots can’t win without deflated balls!” storylines that will inevitably arise when Seattle wins, but I’ll deal with it. Seattle’s defense is better than New England’s offense, and their offense has enough versatility that they can put up enough points against the Patriots defense. It could stay close throughout, but I believe the Seahawks will stay in command most of the way.

Stories are what make the sport. Of course, the game itself is important, but the storylines and characters off the field draw in the masses (at least those who can’t be bothered to spend a few hours watching a game). People love to harp about Seattle’s fans and how loud they are, for whatever that’s worth (by the way, Chiefs fans, you don’t need to brag about manufactured stadium noise). It’s comedic to see all these Seattle fans, plenty of bandwagoners included for sure, cheering “We Are 12!” frequently, but it will only become more annoying with another world title. However, I’ll take it in exchange for some more of the public realizing that the Patriots as we know them will not be around for long. I’ll take this moment to reiterate that I think Tom Brady will not be in New England by the end 2016 at the latest, and the team is going to move on. He’s an icon and a pretty face, so plenty of fans (and certainly the mainstream media) won’t be willing to jump on the fact that he’s a whiny man-child who can’t win the big one, something usually levied against his contemporary, Peyton Manning (the latter part of that, anyway). A world in which the Seahawks have consecutive Super Bowl championships will not always be pretty, but it’s an inevitable fact at this point. At least we’ll get some juicy Pats gossip, right?

Seven points. A touchdown and an extra point. That is the margin I think Seattle will win by in Super Bowl XLIX over the New England Patriots. The margin I’m not dead-set on but I am steadfast in my belief that Seattle will win and New England will lose. Pats fans may not be too pleased with me, and if their team wins on Sunday they’ll want to lay into me, and rightfully so. I don’t think that’s going to happen though. In Glendale, Arizona, the better team will win. The better team in this matchup is the Seattle Seahawks.

 

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