Super Bowl preview and prediction

By: 
Eric Moore
Sports Editor

Championship Preview and Predictions

New England vs. Seattle
2/1 6:30 (ET)
University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ

These teams last met in week 6 of the 2012 season with Seattle coming out on top 24-23. Outspoken Seattle CB Richard Sherman approached Tom Brady after the game to say “You mad bro?” after Brady guaranteed victory earlier in the week. Brady will have the chance to avenge this loss on the biggest stage of all. Since that game, both teams’ cores remain mostly intact. Seattle still has their vaunted “Legion of Boom” secondary featuring Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. On offense, Seattle is still paced by dual threat QB Russell Wilson, powerful RB Marshawn Lynch and receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse. New England’s offense will feature QB Tom Brady, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandon LaFell and RB LaGarrette Blount. On defense, New England has a great secondary led by off season acquisition corner backs Brandon Browner and Darrell Revis. Browner was on Seattle last year and Revis was acquired from Tampa Bay. Let’s take a look at how these teams match up.

When New England has the ball:
New England is hard to figure out. Some games they can heavily favor the pass or run. For example, last week RB LaGarrette Blount ran the ball 30 times for 148 yards and 3 touchdowns in their demolition of Indianapolis. The prior week, Brady threw the ball 50+ times in the narrow comeback victory over Baltimore. Weather could dictate which way they will lean as it was quite a rainy mess against Indianapolis. The game is being played in Arizona with a retractable roof, so we should expect dry conditions. A balanced attack should be expected as Brady thrives off play action passing. The run should set them up, as it will draw defenders to the line and expose matchups for electrifying TE Rob Gronkowski. The key matchup is 6’5” safety Kam Chancellor who should match up well with the 6’7” Gronkowski who typically overpowers smaller safeties. However, the strong running of Blount could force Seattle to bring more men into the box.

When Seattle has the ball:
Seattle runs a balanced attack as QB Russell Wilson plays a very heady game and typically makes good decisions. Last week, he threw 4 interceptions, but still found a way to win vs. Green Bay in the waining minutes and overtime. Wilson is not afraid to tuck it and run the ball should his less than stellar receiving corps fails to find openings in a tough New England secondary that can probably stick to man to man coverage a lot. Look for LB Rob Ninkovich to be spying Wilson most of the game to try to defend against Wilson running the ball on passing plays. Although, Marshawn Lynch in known as a physical power running back look for him in the passing game. He is a solid route runner with good hands. New England will try to put LB Jamie Collins on him as much as possible. Collins is one of the best linebackers in the league in pass coverage.

Verdict:
This will be a physical game as both teams attempt to make history. Seattle will try to become the first back to back champs since New England did so in 2003-04. New England will be going for its 4th championship which would tie QB Tom Brady for most championships as a starting quarterback. Coach Bill Belichick would also tie Chuck Knoll for most championships by a head coach. This will be a close one, but the experienced Tom Brady leads New England on a game winning 4th quarter drive.
New England 24-20

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