Super Bowl XLIX Preview
After nearly two weeks of smack talk, the wait is nearly over for all of us. Very soon, we’ll be able to put the all the drama that is DeflateGate and Marshawn Lynch vs. The Media behind all of us. Soon, we’ll be able to focus on the only thing that truly matters: the most important football game of the year.
On Sunday night, the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks will square off in Super Bowl XLIX from Glendale, AZ and it is safe to say that plenty is on the line. Legacies are often molded or broken in the biggest North American sporting event of the year and this time will be no exception.
For the Seattle Seahawks, they are the defending NFL champions and will be looking to be the first team to repeat since their Super Bowl opponent (Patriots) did it nearly a decade ago. The Seahawks will hinge on their infamous “Legion of Boom” defense to guide them to the attempted repeat, though two of their star defensive players, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas are suffering from injuries. But Seahawks fans need not worry for both should be on the field (that is, unless Richard Sherman becomes a father before Sunday; just the latest compelling story from Super Bowl week).
Seahawks fans will also have the great rushing attack that is their running back, Marshawn Lynch. Say what you want about his disliking and his antics with the media, Lynch is arguably the Seahawks best player and is likely the top running back in the NFL, pound for pound. Lynch won’t be the type who will run to the sideline; instead, he’ll bully his way past linebackers and safeties which, quite frankly, make his runs fun to watch.
And of course, we can’t forget about their quarterback, whose career already compromises of two Super Bowl appearances, a ring and quite frankly, a career that hasn’t even begun to fully blossom yet. Russell Wilson has proven time and again that he can deliver even on his worst days (just ask Packers fans that). Already, Wilson has shown the makings of a true leader. His decision making and ability to make something out of nothing has been shown repeatedly throughout the course of his career. His ability to not shrink when the lights get bigger is something any general manager hopes for when building their franchise around a young quarterback. The fact that Wilson has the “Legion of Boom” and Lynch to rely on helps his cause tremendously.
For the New England Patriots, they are aiming to capture their fourth title and their first in over a decade. The premiere NFL franchise of the early twenty-first century has struggled to maintain championship dominance over the past decade. The ghosts of SpyGate and now DeflateGate reign over this franchise. No Patriots fan needs to be reminded of the heartbreak they’ve been through: an attempt at a perfect season in ’07 was shattered by Eli Manning and the Giants in Super Bowl XLII (arguably the second greatest upset in Super Bowl history). Four years later, the Giants would snatch victory away from the Patriots again at the last minute, winning the rematch in Super Bowl XLVI.
It’s no secret that the Patriots are looking to put the sting of the last two Super Bowl defeats behind them. The Patriots (and Seahawks for that matter) have played out the Super Bowl festivities with looseness and calm. A victory Sunday for the Patriots would give quarterback Tom Brady his fourth championship in six tries, which would likely cement his place among the greatest quarterbacks of all time (many think he’s already there, but we’ll discuss that another day). And don’t get me started on the number of weapons the Patriots have on offense, starting with a guy named Gronkowski.
A huge reason the Patriots are back in the Super Bowl is because of their revamped defense. To clarify, the Patriots defense that went up against Eli Manning in Super Bowl XLVI was arguably the worst statistical NFL defense of all time at that time. The defense has since undergone a great undertaking and revamping of sort. This Patriots defense is arguably the best they’ve had since they won their three Super Bowls over a decade ago. It starts up front with veteran lineman Vince Wilfork, then transitions over to Kyle Arrington and Rob Ninkovich as well. This past offseason, the Patriots went to work on the outside game, signing cornerback Darelle Revis to the team, adding another veteran voice to not only the defense, but to the team as well. Add that with a consistent kicker in Gostkowski, an offense led by Brady and the best poker face coach in the NFL in Bill Belichick and you have a recipe for a championship team.
For more on the individual/team matchups/positions to watch, I recommend you to read this piece by NFL sportswriter Devon Jeffreys at http://www.footballinsiders.com/six-matchups-to-watch-in-super-bowl-xlix/.
I’m done for now. I’ll be back after the game Sunday with an instant recap/my thoughts. So until then, enjoy the festivities and the madness that is Super Bowl Sunday.