My Super Bowl XLIX Pick – Seahawks defend title 31-27

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SUPERBOWL XLIX

PATRIOTS (14-4) VS SEAHAWKS (14-4)

The game is finally here!  The number one team in the AFC, the New England Patriots, will face the number one team in the NFC, the defending Super Bowl Champion, Seattle Seahawks.

Let’s look at how these teams got here, first for my beloved Seahawks.  The Seahawks needed a historical comeback, not a miracle comeback, but a historical comeback against the Green Bay Packers to win the game.  Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers got it wrong when he said, “we were the better team today.”  That’s not true.  The Seahawks were the better team because they executed plays.  Green Bay points at all the ‘mistakes’ that happened.  Commentators like to say the Seahawks were ‘lucky.’  All not true.  The Seahawks made plays within 59 minutes of the game.  Yes, the Seahawks had the lead with over 1 minute left.  No tricks, no flukes, no luck, no last minute heave failmary type play, just smash mouth football and some impressive catches.  The Seahawks’ tight end Luke Willson and wide receivers, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse stepped up in the end and made plays.

It was obvious that Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson had an off day, the worst of his career, but he shook it off and made plays at the end of the day to secure the win.  The Seahawks ended up winning the game in overtime 28-22.  He inspired a team after his poor play because he is driven like something we’ve never seen.

 

 

The New England Patriots had a different outcome in the AFC Championship Game and left little doubt to the rest of the football world that they were the best.  Or did they?  Almost immediately following the impressive blow out win over the Indianapolis Colts 45-7, accusations came in hot and heavy that the Patriots cheated.  New England coach, Bill Belichick, quarterback, Tom Brady, and even owner Robert Kraft denied the allegations.

The issue?  Deflated footballs.  Really people?

To make a big deal about deflated footballs is some of the worst use of time ever.

So what do we know?

  • 11 of 12 New England Patriots footballs were deflated by 2 pounds per square inch.
  • The Indianapolis Colts suspected foul play based on their earlier meeting and handed what they thought was an illegal football to the official.
  • The officials examined  all footballs and found that 11 were deflated so they inflated them to the proper PSI levels for the second half.
  • The second half score of the AFC Championship game (played with legal balls) was 28-0.

I know, I know, people will say, “it’s still cheating!  It’s about the integrity of the game.” Now don’t get me wrong, I think Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will win at any costs with deception on and off the field I just am not buying that this is an issue.

THE FACTS

What can we expect from the game on Sunday?  Last year I predicted that the Seattle Seahawks would win easily over the Denver Broncos.  It was obvious to me based on several factors but the biggest being that #1 defenses in Super Bowls beat #1 offenses in Super Bowls.

Here are some other facts about the Tom Brady led Patriots and Russell Wilson led Seahawks that we should consider.

  • FACT:  The Patriots have never blown out their Super Bowl opponent.  (SB36 20-17 over St. Louis Rams; SB38 32-29 over Carolina Panthers;  SB39 24-21 over Philadelphia Eagles).
  • FACT:  The Seahawks have never lost by 10+ points. (2014 loss to Chargers 30-21).
  • FACT:  The Seahawks are 16-1 in prime time contests while under Pete Carroll (2010).  Russell Wilson joined the Seahawks in 2012, he has the one loss to the San Francisco 49ers in 2013.
  • FACT:  Tom Brady is number 2 in comeback wins with a total of 45 between 2000-2014.
  • FACT:  The Seahawks have never lost to a Super Bowl winning Quarterback.

As I prepare to make my Super Bowl pick I like to look at elements that others may not and here’s why.  I base my picks on how much effort I think the winning team will give.  Football, NFL in particular, is the one professional sport that you can win based on how much effort you put out.  Skill is important but everyone that is on the field has skills and they are all incredible athletes with an extremely high football IQ.  Sometimes games can be ‘stolen’ with misdirection plays like the Seahawks and their fake field goal touchdown against the Green Bay Packers or the New England Patriots and their double pass play that beat the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round.

Super Bowl 49 could easily have been the Baltimore Ravens vs the Green Bay Packers if not for the trick plays.

Trick plays should be considered in making a pick but there is a reason that they are so exciting in the NFL.  They RARELY happen so the consideration is low on the priority list.

The Seattle Seahawks are the perfect team to execute a trick play on because of their attacking defensive style.  You had better make the play though (see St. Louis Rams week 6 win over Seahawks) or you will lose the game.  It took the St. Louis Rams two trick plays and a blown call at the end of the game to secure the victory over the Seahawks.

2014 seahawk losses earl thomas edition

Chargers 30 Seahawks 21
There was talk that the Seahawks may go 16-0 after their drubbing of the Green Bay Packers in week one.  That talk quickly changed after they lost to the San Diego Chargers in San Diego.  There were plenty of excuses, the weather being the biggest.  120 degrees on the field hit the Seahawks harder than the Chargers defense hit the Seahawks.  Not to mention a gritty and tough performance by San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers.

There was one touchdown that Philip Rivers threw as he was getting tackled to Tight End Antonio Gates that was one of the greatest plays I’ve ever seen.  Seahawks Defensive End, Michael Bennet, actually slapped the ball but Rivers regripped and threw it to the corner of the end zone for the score.  Impressive.  Hmmm, maybe that ball was deflated.  🙂

“I just felt funny out there.  My technique and my posture weren’t aggressive.  It taught me a valuable lesson to fight those negative thoughts.  It’s a part of my mindset that I need to turn it on.”  – Earl Thomas

Cowboys 30 Seahawks 23
The Seahawks were home after an impressive win over the Washington Redskins where Russell Wilson ran for 122 yards.  In come the Dallas Cowboys who were rolling and surprising a lot of the NFL with only one loss.  But surely they wouldn’t surprise the Seahawks at Century Link field.  They did.  Their game plan was brilliant but very similar to the San Diego Chargers.  Dink and dunk, dink and dunk (for non football people that means the QB throws to his receivers within five yards underneath the aggressive Seattle defense) and handed off to DeMarco Murray.  With all the success the Cowboys were having the Seahawks still led late in the 4th quarter.

With only a little bit of time remaining it was third down with 20 yards to go for the Cowboys.  Dallas QB Tony Romo had been harassed all day and it was impressive that he was still in the game.  The ball was hiked and Tony Romo started his scrambled to avoid the Seattle rush that broke through.  He threw a 21 yard desperation heave to the sideline he was closest to and the receiver tip toed his way to an incredible catch.  First Down for the Cowboys!  They eventually score and the Seahawks lose a rare home game.

“He waited til the last kennel-down to open his mouth…that just showed me who he is as a front-runner.”  – Earl Thomas on Cowboys Tight End Jason Whitten.

Rams 28 Seahawks 26
The Rams stunned the Seahawks with some beautifully played Special Teams’ trick plays.  Seattle head coach, Pete Carroll, wasn’t necessarily out coached by Rams’ head coach Jeff Fischer, it was just bold play calls where players made the plays they needed to make.  There were factors to this game that can explain why a team not as good as the Seahawks could beat them.

1)  Effort.  The Rams played with a greater sense of urgency than the Seahawks.
2)  Start time.  West coast teams struggle with a ten AM Pacific start time.
3)  Percy Harvin trade.  The trade heard round the world.  This stunned everyone and it happened as the Seahawks boarded the bus on their way to their flight to St. Louis.

The Percy Harvin trade made sense on all levels, especially after finding out that he literally walked out on the team in the fourth quarter for both the San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys losses.

All in all, the Seahawks still had a chance with Russell Wilson becoming the first QB in NFL history to pass for more than 300 yards and rush for over a 100 yards.  The Rams wouldn’t have won without the trick plays and controversial call in the end.

“Yeah. At least give us a shot. But you know what? I’m not surprised with the referees this season. If you really look at some plays, we’re playing more than our opponents. We’re playing the referees too. I don’t care what anybody is saying. Something is wrong. That needs to be brought up.  It’s kind of crazy how football is turning out now. You give a guy, just because he wears a white and black shirt, he has authority of the game. Man, they need to stay out of it — that’s my key — and let us dominate.” – Earl Thomas on how the referees officiate the Seahawks.

Chiefs 24  Seahawks 20
Another 10am start combined with the loss of Seahawks Center Max Unger and poor tackling caused the Seahawks to lose bringing their record to 6-4, three games behind the leading 9-1 Arizona Cardinals.  What’s interesting was hearing the comments from the Seahawk players about this game.  The feeling was unanimous, they felt they just got beat.  This was a different tone than the previous losses.  It was as if they tipped their cap to a great running back in Jamaal Charles and brought the house together for some internal cleaning.

This is the game that sparked a meeting that a lot of the Seahawk players point to as the turning point of the season.

“We tackled so poorly, and Jamaal kept making yards — and making us miss.”  – Earl Thomas

my super bowl prediction

What exactly is a Let Down Game?  I define a Let Down Game as the game after an emotional win for which the winning team isn’t ready to play.  If that is the case, the Seahawks with their emotional win vs the Green Bay Packers are stepping into a Let Down Game.  But what about the New England Patriots?  An emotional blowout of the Indianapolis Colts could lead to a false sense of accomplishment heading into the big game.

The big game.  Let’s think about that for a moment.  Because this is the Super Bowl you can pretty much throw out any idea of a Let Down Game.  Both teams will come prepared and I’m guessing both teams will give a tremendous amount of effort.

Last year the Denver Broncos didn’t ‘bring it.’  Everyone knew it, commentators were talking about how the Seahawks practice was light years ahead of the Denver Broncos practice.  They were Bigger, Faster, Stronger and Louder.  You don’t hear that this year.  The Seahawks are no secret and no joke.  The Patriots will be ready.

What about the anger factor?  The Patriots are angry for all the accusations given against them about Deflategate.  The Seahawks Running Back, Marshawn Lynch, is angry that the NFL is forcing him to talk to the dreaded media.  Many Seahawk players have said they want Marshawn to win the Super Bowl MVP and they will do anything they can to ensure that.

I don’t think any team has an edge with the ‘nobody respects us’ motivation coach speak.

Since Championship Sunday had a historic comeback and a blowout of an inferior team, I’m not going to use information from that game to make my pick.  I’ll look to the Divisional Round games for the data I need to make my pick.

In the AFC, the Patriots barely got by the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round.  The Baltimore Ravens are a closer defense to the Seahawks then the Indianapolis Colts.  The Ravens are also a closer running game then the Colts.  Ravens RB Justin Forsett had over 100 yards in the game and Marshawn Lynch is a much stronger runner than Forsett.  The Patriots relied on a trick play and some deceptive tactics tricking the Ravens for crucial first downs.  For as good as everyone is saying Patriots RB, LaGarette Blount is he only rushed for 1 yard against the Ravens.  Patriots QB, Tom Brady on the other hand threw the ball 50 times.

In the NFC, the Seahawks started slow, as they had over the previous weeks, against the Carolina Panthers.  But you never got the feeling that the Seahawks were in trouble.  It felt like the New Orleans Saints’ game in last year’s Divisional Round of the playoffs.  Score read closer than it really was.

The New England Patriots will beat the Seattle Seahawks if Tom Brady can mix up the pass and run with short efficient passes to his wide receivers.  If they stay with that plan all the way to the red zone and are patient with it they can expose the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom in the red zone by throwing to Tight End Rob Gronkowski.  If not, if they try and send their party hard TE Gronk across the middle something like this may happen…

Jason Witten  or this         14077157-mmmain

hmmm, maybe this?  Super Bowl XLVIII - Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos

or heaven forbid something vicious like this

158691110.0

The New England Patriots Tight End does not have it like the Seahawks have it.  He’s the ‘Gronk.’ He likes to party after a Super Bowl loss.  It’s just a game for him I imagine, where for the Seahawks – they are driven by establishing a dynasty.

When I look at the Quarterbacks that beat the Seahawks I notice that they are tough.  Both Philip Rivers and Tony Romo stood in the pocket, delivered the pass, got blasted and didn’t cry about it.  Tom Brady is that type of Quarterback…wait… or is he?

Tom just needs a hug, remember this?

And please stop talking about Deflategate because it really hurt Tom’s feelings.

The Seahawks have never lost to a Quarterback that wasn’t tough.  This would be a first if the whiney QB from Boston cries his way to a Super Bowl victory.  In my opinion, Tom will have to dink and dunk his way against a trash talking brash Legion of Boom from Seattle.  My guess is he isn’t that patient.  He’s going to want to stick it to these guys and test them.

Or, they could run, and run, and run which is exactly what the Seahawks would prefer.

Now, let me make something clear.  I am a die hard Seahawk fan and know that a blowout is coming.  It’s been too long since we’ve lost a game by more than 20 points.  The odds are stacking against us that it will eventually happen.  Everyone gets blown out, that day could be tomorrow.  If it is, we had an awesome year and what an incredible comeback against the Green Bay Packers.  Something we will talk about for years.  If the Seahawks do get blown out it will be because Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has another historical bad game.

Wilson’s last game against the Green Bay Packers was bad.  It wasn’t the team’s poor performance but Wilsons.  If that were to happen again we have no chance against the Patriots.  Even with a lead, the Patriots will not play conservative like the Green Bay Packers.

Brady has one of the fastest release and his balls don’t come out like ducks similar to our friend Peyton Manning.  His passes are tight spirals and with how far back Brady stands in the shotgun he can get the passes on the underneath routes quickly, these completions can get them to the red zone fast for a touchdown strike to Gronk.

I’ve gone back and forth with this pick but I’m banking on the Legion of Boom hindering the Patriots receivers enough at the line of scrimmage to give our rushers time to get to Tom Brady.   I’m going with a close game similar to all the Super Bowls the Patriots have played.  Seahawks win late in the 4th quarter with Marshawn Lynch having an MVP performance but it’s given to Russell Wilson.

My Pick:  Seahawks:  31  Patriots:  27

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