With the Pro-Bowl over, and both teams having spent the week in Arizona, Will Scott previews Superbowl 49.
Having ground their way through the regular season and playoffs we’ve been left with the last two teams standing in the NFL. It’s hard to say if there are any more deserving teams to be in this position, with Seattle and New England both the number one seeds from their respective conferences. Seattle battled their way through injuries early on in the season, but regained their championship winning form on defence late in the season to enter the big game on an eight game winning streak. Meanwhile the Patriots overcame early adversity in the form of a 2-2 start, which included a 41-14 drubbing at the hands of the KC Chiefs, to a comfortable 12-4 record.
If the Patriots are to stand any chance of winning this game they’ll need to establish the run. Unlike in the Ravens game (14 rushing yards) they’re not going to be able to rely solely on the pass against Seattle’s ‘Legion of Boom’. The pace will need to be set early up front with mid-season pick up, LeGarrette Blount. However this won’t be an easy task against a Seattle front seven who only allowed 81.5 rushing yards per game in the regular season, and have shown significant improvement since pro-bowl linebacker Bobby Wagner’s return from injury. Even with Blount’s hard running, this’ll be an incredibly difficult task, leaving much of the Patriots offensive game down to Tom Brady.
Brady is used to being left to shoulder the load on a Patriots team that haven’t had a standout running back in many years, and he certainly has the talent to do it. It’ll be an uphill battle trying to constantly pass on Seattle, but fortunately the ex-Michigan QB has the best pass catcher in this matchup on his side. Rob Gronkowski creates mismatches all over the field with his size and strength. Not one to lack in confidence, the party boy will be looking to put on a show back in his old college state, which will be vital in a game where the rest of the Patriots receivers will likely be locked down by Sherman and co.
Whilst Seattle boast an incredible defence, their offence has definitely been suspect at times this season. Headline grabber Marshawn Lynch will have to lead the way, and certainly need to enter “Beast Mode” a few times if Seattle are to pose any threat on offence. Seattle rely on the run to set up the pass more than most teams, due to a lack of a true number 1 receiver. Fortunately for them they boast one of the best rushing quarter backs in the NFL in Russell Wilson. The Patriots will likely have to stack the box to contain both rushing threats in the backfield, hopefully allowing Wilson to air the ball out against a top New England secondary.
Possibly one of the tightest Superbowls in recent history (Las Vegas has New England as 2 point favourites), I could easily see it going either way. Personally though, I’m backing the Seahawks to take this one 23 – 17 in what should be a great encounter.
The Superbowl is being shown at The Stag’s Head on campus, with kickoff at 11:30pm. Tickets are available on SUSU box office for £5.