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Friday, 30 January 2015

Super Bowl XLIX Preview (Duel in the Desert Edition)

The time has come to say goodbye to another NFL season, but before the nuclear winter of the off-season hits, there is that small matter of one more game to be played and a champion to be crowned.

It's a game you may have heard before that's called the Super Bowl, and some have called it the "ultimate game."

But as Duane Thomas once said, "If it's the ultimate game, why do they play it every year?"

To crown a champion, that's why.

So let's get started doing that.

New England Patriots (14-4) vs. Seattle Seahawks (14-4), Sunday, February 1, 6:30/5:30 Central, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona

Line: Patriots by 1

Well, here it is. And this one really does fell like it could be the "ultimate" game, as really, there's everything here that you have to have in order to see a great game, except for an actual PROMISE of a good game, which is something nobody can give us, but we probably all want after last year.

And last year's game is a good place to start, since the Seahawks rode their "Legion of Boom" defense to a 43-8 win over the Broncos last year to claim their first world championship in franchise history, and rode it again to what is currently an eight-game winning streak in which only one team, the Packers two weeks ago in the NFC title game, broke 20 points on them.

Which is why the Patriots' offense, which, deflated footballs or not, still managed to inflate the scoreboard for 45 points against the Colts in the AFC title game two weeks ago, will present such a challenge for the Seahawks' repeat bid.

You've heard this old, tired cliche too many times to count by now, I'm sure, but this game REALLY MIGHT BE the "irresistible force" meeting the "immovable object."

I guess I'll leave it up to you to decide which is which, but the point is that this Super Bowl, just like last year's, is strength versus strength.

I do expect the Patriots to come in with a much better game plan than the Broncos did, which is exactly why I am predicting a close game here. 

(In the interest of full disclosure, if you check my archives, I'm fairly certain I picked a close game last year, too, which means the last part of that above paragraph is probably meaningless.)

I might sound like a broken record here, because I have been preaching from the mountaintop about this quite a bit in the post-season, but with two bruising running backs like LeGarrette Blount and Marshawn Lynch running the ball, I expect the running game, and who rushes for the most yards, will be a big deciding factor here.

Since I do expect both of them to run the ball fairly well, this game might come down to how well the Seahawks can contain Rob Gronkowski and how well the Patriots can contain the dual threat of Russell Wilson, as those are the teo players on their respective offenses that are the true game-changing difference makers.

I'll be curious to see how the Seahawks' "LOB" will go about handling Gronk, without sacrificing too much elsewhere.

Having said all that, this feels like the kind of game where a spare part guy like Jermaine Kearse, who caught the game-winning TD catch in the overtime of the NFC title game or Brandon LaFell, who has started coming into his own in New England, could be the MVP. 

There is also that small little intertwining of storylines involving rhe Seahawks trying to be the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champions in a decade, and trying to do it against the last team that did it, as well as the fact that Pete Carroll used to coach the Patriots.

Which is a fact we all knew, but it's like 25th on the list of storylines for this game, which just tells you how good this game could potentially be.

Let's all hope that it lives up to the hype.

A Seattle win gives them two titles all time, but they would of course be back-to-back champions, as well, while the Brady/Belichick Patriots go for their fourth title, but first since their second of two straight at the end of the 2004 season.

Prediction: Seattle 27, New England 24


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