Super Bowl XLIX: Sports Writers’ Gut Feelings
In just three days, another NFL Super Bowl champion will be crowned. Seattle enters the game after defeating Green Bay in the NFC Championship game in dramatic fashion while New England crushed the Indianapolis Colts to secure its spot in the Super Bowl. However, only one team will walk away with the Vince Lombardi trophy.
Jacob Kemp, Patriots 14 – Seahawks 13
Most assume Bill Belichick is an offensive minded coach because of Tom Brady, but he started as a defensive coordinator for Bill Parcells and the New York Giants in the ‘80s. His defensive unit ranked in nearly every statistical category while there, and he has carried over that success to the Patriots.
As for Pete Carroll, he was the defensive coordinator for the Jets and 49ers in the ‘90s before heading to USC and then the Seahawks, where he has taken over the NFL with the Legion of Boom.
Both coaches are master strategists and game planners on the defensive side of the ball. Expect one of the lowest scoring games in Super Bowl history.
Ashley Hickman, Seahawks 24 – Patriots 17
Defense will be the key factor in who wins this Super Bowl. Seattle’s defense could be just what will slow down New England’s stellar passing game.
The Patriots have scored at least 30 points in 42 of their 73 since 2011, including postseason play, but Seattle also has a streak of their own that almost diminishes New England’s in comparison. Seattle’s defense has not allowed more than 30 points in all 71 games since 2011.
Brady will have his hands full attempting to pick apart Seattle’s defense led by Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman. Look for the Seattle defense to make the difference.
Wilton Jackson, Seahawks 27 – Patriots 24
Look for the Patriots’ defense to be prepared for the Seahawks’ superior rushing attack anchored by quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch.
If they can force Wilson into staying in the pocket to make big plays with his arm, the Patriots increase their chances of winning the Super Bowl. On many occasions, Wilson has many clutch plays in third and fourth down situations with his legs rather than his arm.
Marshawn Lynch has the ability to break tackles easily against opposing defenders and breaks some true ‘Beast Mode’ runs. New England must get good leverage off of blocks and tackle well to contain the duo. It will be close, but the Seattle defense will answer the bell.
James Johnson, Seahawks 24 – Patriots 17
This year’s Super Bowl is another matchup of a great defense against a great offense. We all know about the Seahawks’ top-ranked defense and any offense led by future Hall of Famer Tom Brady is going to be high powered.
But defense wins championships as Seattle proved last year, making Peyton Manning look mortal. This year, it’s Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. If the Patriots can generate a run game then they have a chance of winning.
The Seahawks were the number-three ranked defense against the run and first in scoring, giving up 81.5 YPG and 15.9 PPG. The Legion of Boom will make big plays that lead the Seahawks to back-to-back championships.
Julius Kizzee, Patriots 17 – Seahawks 14
The psychological warfare between the Legion of Boom and Tom Brady is the key in this game. Will the Patriots quarterback be able to attack the defense in the middle of the field and on long down-and-distances? Or will the Legion of Boom scare the Patriots’ receivers from coming down the middle?
Gronkowski is my X-Factor because of the Seahawks’ track record of limiting tight ends like Greg Olsen and Vernon Davis. Can the best tight end in the league and the Patriots’ receiving corps equalize the Seattle secondary?
Joshua Campbell, Sports Editor, Patriots 29 – Seahawks 22
In the four games Seattle lost this year, they gave up an average of 138.8 YPG on the ground compared to just 62.4 YPG in their 12 wins. Also in those four losses, they did not intercept a single pass; whereas, they recorded 13 interceptions in their 12 wins.
That will be the determining factor in the Super Bowl. Can the Patriots establish a running game that keeps them from being overly aggressive against the pass?
The Patriots’ offense has soared since running back LeGarrette Blount rejoined the squad and it has made opposing defenses think twice about selling out to stop Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots will strike that balance and Brady and Belichick will win their fourth Super Bowl together.