Two Glorious Returns
It’s that time of year again. A joyous occasion when football fans get together, with beer, chips and salsa, and other kinds of “finger food,” to shout at their TVs. That’s right! It’s time for Super Bowl XLIX! This game is a face-off of two teams returning to the site of some of their greatest, and even most infamous, moments. The Seattle Seahawks, last year’s Super Bowl winner, will face off against the 3-time champion New England Patriots, in a battle of titans. There is great debate over who will win, and there are a few key factors that will play a big part in determining the victor. First, the Big Game will feature a legend, Tom Brady, against one of the most feared defenses in recent memory, led by their secondary, the “Legion of Boom.” The side that can win this matchup will be a big determining factor in which team ultimately result in the victor. The second factor is that the Patriots defense will have to contain Marshawn Lynch (a.k.a. “Beast Mode”) if the boys from Foxboro want to have any chance of success. The third factor is different from the first two, however, because it should not directly affect the outcome, but “Deflategate” will be hanging over everyone’s minds for the entire game. Neither team can let themselves get distracted. Otherwise, they will get steamrolled.
In the case of the Seattle Seahawks defense, this game will seem a lot like last year’s Super Bowl. They will just be facing a different household name. Tom Brady is a man that needs no introduction. A 3-time Super Bowl champion who will be playing in his sixth Super Bowl, Brady is the indisputable leader of the New England Patriots, and that has been the case for nearly a decade and a half. But facing a legendary quarterback in the Super Bowl is something the Seattle Seahawks defense has successfully done before. Last year, they shut down Peyton Manning, erasing any doubt about whether or not they were dominant. The question now is: Can they do it again?
The Patriots almost mirror the Broncos. Like Denver did in last season, the Patriots have an excellent offensive-line that can protect Tom Brady against pretty much anything. But we should remember that we are talking about the Seattle Seahawks defense—one that features pass rushers like Clint Avril and Michael Bennett, and linebackers like Bobby Wagner and Bruce Irvin. All four are men who can destroy any sense of order and wreak havoc on Tom Brady’s plans to avoid getting sacked.
The battle between the Seahawks defense vs. Patriots offense will come down to how effective the passing game can be. Three members of the “Legion of Boom” have been hurt in some way or another. Richard Sherman injured his elbow during the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers, while Earl Thomas III hurt his shoulder in the same game. Both have said that they won’t let the pain bother them, but the fact remains that neither of them will be at 100%. To make matters even more interesting, Kam Chancellor hurt his knee in practice a couple of days ago, but he’s listed as Probable, which means that he will play without question. The significance of this is certainly not lost on the Patriots. Tom Brady will have the opportunity to exploit a weaker “Legion of Boom,” but whether he ultimately capitalizes on that advantage is another question in itself. Brady has a great receiving corps, headlined by the 6’6” tight end, Rob Gronkowski, and he will have to use ‘Gronk’ effectively to win, but the Seahawks secondary is a group of four ball hogs. There’s no question that they will give their very best to interrupt the Patriots’ little game of “Keep Away.”
While the Seahawks defense has a lot on their plate, the Patriots defense might have even more. Russell Wilson has developed into a clutch quarterback for Seattle, and he will surely make his presence felt. The Patriots have an even greater problem, one that the Broncos defense couldn’t tackle in last year’s Super Bowl. That problem is Marshawn Lynch. Just like last season, Lynch has literally run over opposing defenses en route to keeping up his reputation as a Top 5 running back.
And in a surprise twist, we’ve found out that he is also pretty good at beating people in Mortal Kombat.
It’s simple: Marshawn Lynch is as dominant as they come, and New England must contain him if they want to even have a chance of winning. Fortunately for the Patriots, their defense is at full strength, unlike Denver’s defense last year, when they were missing their de facto leader on defense, Von Miller, due to injury. That said, the Patriots might have a better chance of winning than the Broncos did, but with someone like Lynch, the odds of winning can never be too good.
While both teams have big challenges to conquer in the Super Bowl, there is one problem off the field that no one will stop talking about. It happens to be something that might change how the game is played, and it’s called “Deflategate.” Allegedly, the Patriots deflated 11 of the 12 game balls used in the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts. For the record, I think that, even if this did happen, it couldn’t have had enough impact to change the game. The Patriots won 45-7, a dominant Tour de Force that can’t be blamed on deflated balls. Simply put, the Colts didn’t play anywhere close to well enough to win. But that controversy will still hang over the heads of the entire Patriots team and fan base, not to mention the whole league. That said, not letting it affect their play by thinking about it would be the worst thing for the New England Patriots, so they would do well to forget about it.
As always, it’s impossible to definitively say who will win a sports game, but we can always speculate. The two important matchups of the game, Tom Brady vs. the Seahawks defense and the Patriots defense vs. Marshawn Lynch will determine who wins. That said, it really comes down to Brady. If he can emulate the 3-time Super Bowl champion, he will win. If he emulates the 2-time Super Bowl loser (as a dedicated New York Giants fan, I will never let this go), he will be crushed. It seems more likely that the Seahawks defense will be able to contain Tom Brady than the Patriots defense will be able to contain Marshawn Lynch, so it looks like Lynch will be steamrolling more people on his way to a second consecutive Super Bowl ring. It won’t be a surefire thing though. As we all know, strange things pervade all sports in a way that few other things can, so the final result is up to Lady Luck. Anything can happen, it’s just a matter of who can capitalize when the lights are on.