Super Bowl XLIX: Keys to the Game
Jan 30, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll (left) and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (right) speak during a joint press conference for Super Bowl XLIX at Phoenix Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
It’s finally upon us, Super Bowl weekend. In around 36 hours from now, Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the rest of the New England Patriots take on Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, and the rest of the defending champion Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. Both teams come into the game riding high on title game victories, in very different fashion. The Patriots just demolished the Colts by the score of 45-7, and the Seahawks had that unprecedented come from behind victory to beat the Packers and end up here.
There are many interesting storylines to this Super Bowl, one being the fact that Robert Kraft hired both of these coaches to lead the New England Patriots. In fact, they are the only two head coaches that Kraft has ever hired, showing the great success he has had, like it or not, and no matter how he got there. We can have some fun and talk about “Deflate Gate” as that situation plays out, or Marshawn Lynch‘s antics with the media, but that is not for this piece. For this, let’s take a look at how the important keys to the game, strictly on the field.
Next: Pressure on Tom Brady
Jan 28, 2015; Chandler, AZ, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) answers questions during a press conference at Chandler Wild Horse Pass. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
For the Seahawks there is one huge key to this game, and it is putting pressure on Tom Brady. Can the Seahawks move Brady off of his spot, and force him to throw it on the move? When under pressure in 2014, Brady’s completion percentage drops to 45%. It’s just not his game. Brady likes to get back in the pocket, do his little hop, and rely on his protection to give him time to make his reads. He can create time for himself when necessary, but not the way Russell Wilson can. The two times Brady was beaten solidly, by the Dolphins and the Chiefs, Brady was sacked four and three times respectively.
Get to this quarterback and you can win it. With all due respect to the likes of LeGarrette Blount, the Patriots are not winning this Super Bowl with a “Ground and Pound” effort, they are winning it on the arm of Tom Brady. If the Seahawks can get in his face, they can take the game.
Next: Marshawn Lynch
Jan 29, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) at press conference at Arizona Grand in advance of Super Bowl XLIX. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
For the Patriots, the question becomes whether or not they can keep “Beast Mode” locked up in his cage for four hours. We have seen all week long how Marshawn Lynch feels about the media coverage of the Super Bowl, and his requirement to participate in said coverage. But, when he starts running downhill, there aren’t too many people in the league that can bring him down. Lynch averaged 81 yards on the ground per game during the regular season. He has upped it to 108 yards per game in the playoffs, and is averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
You can say a lot about Russell Wilson, but the guy that makes the Seahawks offense go is Marshawn Lynch. When he gets his Skittles in him, watch out. Wilson’s game becomes a lot more mortal if Lynch doesn’t get out of the gate. If the Patriots aren’t respecting the run, the “Pistol” has less effectiveness, and all of the passing plays that come off of the run go downhill as well. The Seahawks controlling this Super Bowl rests on the back of one man, Marshawn Lynch. The Patriots must stop him to have any chance to win this game.
Next: Turnover Battle
Jan 29, 2015; Chandler, AZ, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) speaks to reporters during the New England Patriots press conference at Sheraton Wild Horse Pass. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
This Super Bowl has all of the makings of a great one, certainly a close one. Both teams do a lot of the same things well. Vegas has had the line anywhere from around two points to a “pick ’em” game. In a game like that, it often takes one play to turn the game around. Often, that play is a turnover. The team that gets the ball rolling their way ends up with that one play that tips the scales of a close game in their favor.
The Patriots were tied for seventh in the league with 16 interceptions, and we all know who their star cornerback is. Richard Sherman and company were tied for ninth in the NFL with 13 interceptions. Both of these teams are opportunistic. They can get after the football.
The Super Bowl might just be won on who can win the turnover battle. It happens that way when you have two evenly matched teams.
Next: Field Postion Game
Nov 30, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; New England Patriots punterRyan Allen
(6) before the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
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One more major factor in this game is going to be field position. Especially if the Seahawks are going to stay in it, field position is going to be key. They are not going to be able to stick with the Patriots if this game is in the 30’s, I just don’t see it. The Seattle offense is good, but doesn’t have that kind of staying power. To win this Super Bowl, the Seahawks are going to have to keep this game in the mid-20’s at the MOST. A “21-17” type of score would be most ideal from a Seahawks perspective.
That puts the punters into the forefront. Ryan Allen and Jon Ryan will do battle, and the one that outperforms the other will leave his team with an excellent chance to win this Super Bowl.
Those are just some keys from me, what do you see, football fans?