Staff Super Bowl Selections
The Three Point Stance Magazine crew weighs in with predictions for SB XLIX
Justin Day | @JDayErrday
When I look at this match up I see two great teams, with a lot of great players, most of them probably hall of famers. Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady, Darrelle Revis, Earl Thomas, Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman, etc. These two teams are absolutely loaded with talent, but I do think that one team has a distinct edge.
Like I mentioned before, both teams have great players, and both teams also have great defenses. However, only one of these teams has a great quarterback, the best quarterback that I at 21 years of age have ever seen play the game. That man is Tom Brady, and on top of that the Pats have arguably the best player on either team in Rob Gronkowski.
Now there obviously is a case to be made for the Seattle Seahawks. They are the reigning, defending, Super Bowl champions. They have the legion of bomb and Marshawn Lynch, but I think that karma is a real thing and I think the way Lynch has been handling himself as of late may cost the Seahawks a fumble late in this game.
Ultimately I have had the Patriots pegged to win the Super Bowl since the beginning of the season, and I don’t see any reason to change that now. Tom Brady will lead this team to their 4th Super Bowl championship and cement himself as the greatest quarterback to ever play the game of football.
Prediction: Patriots 26 Seahawks 13
Bryan Whorton | @bryanwhorton
Does anyone ever get tired of all the quotes Marshawn Lynch gives to the media? Wow, not sure how any reporter was able to get in a word edgewise with his incredibly lengthy answers. “I am only here so I don’t get fined” offered an incredible amount of insight into the Seahawks preparation for Super Bowl 49.
I don’t know how anyone could possibly pick against the Seahawks after the improbable NFC Championship win over Green Bay. Regardless of your thoughts about Pete Carroll, it is extremely obvious the man knows how to coach football, but also is masterful at meshing personalities into a team. Russell Wilson is as solid a Quarterback as you will find in the NFL. Since day 1 in the league he has displayed the kind of veteran leadership that only the cream of the crop have shown. While Lynch is a man a few words he will undoubtedly bring his best again. It has been rather anticlimactic to be the week of the Super Bowl and not have Richard Sherman’s mouth running at a mile a minute. The chip on the shoulders of Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse is enormous and I am not confident that there will be much room for much in the way of stats for them in this game. Although I could be wrong based on the amount of heart and passion these two play. The Seahawks defense has been ridiculous the past two years. While they struggled early it is amazing the difference one player makes. Bobby Wagner missed 5 games and still almost led the team in tackles. In 11 games Wagner netted 104 tackles. Since his return the hawks are 9-2. The defense got more aggressive, pressure started being put on opposing quarterbacks and the Legion of Boom was able to start taking more chances. Before Wagner’s return there was talk of Seattle being in panic mode and possibly missing the playoffs early in the season after a 3-3 start. The trading of Percy Harvin had most of the media trying to cover the potential melt down of the defending Super Bowl. As the saying goes winning cures all ills. Playing for a second straight Lombardi trophy sure has things looking and sounding like sunshine and roses out of Seattle.
Love them, hate them, they could care less. The New England Patriots have become to the NFL what the New York Yankees are to Major League Baseball. The more you hate them, the more they love it. There is no denying that Tom Brady has worked wonders with what amounts to mainly no name receivers year after year. Much like the Seahawks defense, one player makes an unbelievable difference in the functionality of the Patriots offense. Rob Gronkowski is the cog in the wheel that gives defenses a super star to have to game plan for. He is Brady’s go to guy. We have seen the past couple seasons how much Brady and company struggle when Gronk has been out injured. The secondary of the Pats is very solid with Darrelle Revis and Devin McCourty which should prevent a challenge for the Hawks receiving core. For everything that the Patriots do well the only way I see them coming out on top of this game is if they are able to put significant pressure on Wilson, keep him contained and put him on his back. The real winner for the Pats is LeGarrette Blount who escaped Pittsburgh and is now playing for a championship.
So let’s look at the areas the Patriots have the advantages: Quarterback, I love Wilson’s game but Brady has played at such a high level for so long I have to give him a slight advantage. Tight End, Gronkowski versus a rookie who has played well. Is there any other explaining needed here? Honestly, that is where the pros for the Patriots end for me.
When looking at this on paper the game looks like it could be a blowout to me. The Seahawks have slight advantages at Wide Receiver and Defensive line and huge advantages at Running Back, Linebacker, and the Secondary. If the offense of the Seahawks was built to score in the upper 30s a game then I would probably be picking this game to be a double digit win for the Hawks, but it isn’t. I am still picking the Seahawks to win 24-19.
Jeff Lyons | @jeffreyclyons
Since 1975, when seeding was introduced as part of the NFL playoff structure, this will be only the 11th time in which the best team from the NFC faces its AFC counterpart – and it is only the 3rd time since 1993 that it’s happened. Even stranger, it is happening for the 2nd year in a row (last time was Super Bowl XVIII and XIX).
Favorites in these matchups have gone 7-3 against the spread, with only the Raiders in SB XVIII, Saints in 2009 and Seahawks in 2014 being able to win as underdogs.
How They Got Here:
Whether you want to call it one of the greatest comebacks or biggest choke-jobs ever, the Seahawks needed overtime to overcome the Packers and repeat as NFC Champions.
The Patriots had their struggles versus the Ravens in the Divisional Round, but a deflated cakewalk versus the Colts, allowing Tom Brady and Bill Belichick their 6th Super Bowl appearance.
When Seattle Has the Ball:
Watching the Packers’ game, you could see Green Bay’s defense getting tired towards the end of the game, which allowed large gains for Marshawn Lynch. The goal of Seattle’s offense is to achieve full “Beast Mode,” while using misdirection to either open up the passing game or running game (off read option) with Russell Wilson. Running the football will keep Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense off the field and eliminate Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner from making an impact in the passing game. The Seahawks’ wide receivers will not scare any defense and the Patriots have a favorable advantage in the secondary. If Seattle can get into 3rd and short situations, it could be a long day for the Patriots’ defense.
When New England Has the Ball:
We know New England has Brady and Rob Gronkowski on offense, but the questions are: will New England throw it or run it and who else will step up? The Patriots need to score points, period. The more they score, the more pressure they will put on Wilson and the Seahawks. The best way for New England to do that is to throw the football. They will just not be able to get the run going with that tough Seattle front seven. Expect Brady to throw a good deal and exploit Seattle’s issues covering elite tight ends (see games by Julius Thomas, Antonio Gates and Greg Olsen). He will also test Richard Sherman and the injured Legion of Boom to see exactly how healthy they are. Just because they are playing, it doesn’t mean that Sherman and Kam Chancellor will be close to 100%. Once Brady and the Patriots find the hole in the defense, they will exploit it until Seattle compensates, which will allow other players to contribute.
Did Russell Wilson get exposed versus the Packers? The jury is still out, but we know that he is not on the elite quarterback level and it was truly Seattle’s defense that kept them in the game. Expect the Belichick and the Patriots to stack the box, shutdown Lynch and force Wilson to beat them with his arm.
Seattle has yet to stop an elite tight end and with the injuries to Sherman and Chancellor (both saying they will play), Brady may be able to challenge them on the outside. New England’s goal will be to get the ball to Gronk early and often. With how stout Seattle is versus the run, don’t be surprised if the Patriots run the ball less than 20 times, like the Ravens game. Moreover, there will be no 12TH Man in Arizona, leaving Brady the opportunity to audible and attack.
If New England’s offense starts scoring, it could be over early. Wilson will have issues with Revis and Browner, ending up with at least 2 interceptions and more questions about how talented he really is and the upcoming contract negotiations.
Patriots 34 Seahawks 20