The Super Bowl is finally just a couple days away and it is finally time to focus on the game. Amid all the Deflategate talk, people forget to realize that we have a matchup that could go down as an all time great. One of the great defenses that we have seen in the past years goes up against arguably the greatest quarterback of all time. Lets take a look at some of the match ups and keys to a Patriots victory:
Seattle's Lack of Quality Quarterbacks Faced
Before everyone goes crazy, I know that Seattle has a phenomenal defense. They have by far the best defense in the league. However, the quarterbacks that they have faced do not impress me. Tom Brady is a Top 2 quarterback in this league in my opinion. The only quarterback that I would put on or above Brady's level would be Aaron Rodgers. In the first half of the NFC Championship Game, Rodgers absolutely tore up the Legion of Boom on a bad calf. Rodgers' inability to move around in the pocket because of his injury makes him a pocket passer, just like Brady. If the Packers did not vomit all over themselves two weeks ago, we would be talking about the Patriots vs. the Packers. Sure, they have faced quarterbacks such as Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, and a healthy Peyton Manning, but none of them quite match up with Brady.
Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman were playing injured for the better part of the NFC Championship game. Earl Thomas acknowledge he isn't the same player that he was before the injury, but swears that he will be all ready to go despite dislocating his shoulder. Richard Sherman also is dealing with an injury, which was quite noticeable against the Packers. After a hit out of bounds, Sherman seemed to have injured his elbow and was in quite some discomfort for the rest of the game. Although he continued to play, his demeanor and physicality decreased. Tom Brady and the receiving core should look to test both Sherman and Thomas early in the game to gauge their ability to tackle and cover. It would be unwise to throw Brandon LaFell out on the right side and test Sherman deep, but a screen pass to Edelman with Gronk blocking Sherman would more than adequately test that elbow.
Containing Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson
It is essential for Marshawn Lynch to get it going for the Seattle offense to gel. Russell Wilson does not have the ability to stay in the pocket, look downfield, and pass for 350 yards and 4 TDs. He is clutch and can lead an offense down the field in 2 minutes, but I do not think that he singlehandedly can beat a football team like Tom Brady. Wilson loves to extend the play by running out of the pocket as it collapses and finding an open receiver for 10 yards. Will he be able to find that open receiver on such an improved Patriots secondary? We will find out Sunday. Because of this, limiting Lynch has to be the top priority for this Patriots defense.
Protecting the Football
These football teams are extremely different, but there is no denying that they are the two best teams in the NFL. Unless there is something that I am just not seeing, I believe this game will come down to miscues and poor execution. Something like a muffed punt or taking a sack on 3rd down to get out of field goal range will decide the winner of the Super Bowl. The Patriots need to force the ball out of Lynch's hands and make Wilson uncomfortable. If the Pats can force these turnovers, they need to take advantage of them and make Seattle pay.
This game is going to be extremely entertaining to watch. The Legion of Boom faces off against the best quarterback of this generation. Offense vs Defense. After the Deflategate fiasco, I believe the Patriots will come out with a fire that will not be extinguished until they are hoisting the Lombardi Trophy on Boylston Street.
Patriots 27 Seattle 21
By Pete Packowski @Pete_BBS