Super Bowl XLIV Preview: Predictions
WPTS sports staff members came together to make their predictions for Super Bowl XLIX. Here’s what they came up with:
Dakota Arturo, Writing Assistant
This is as balanced a Super Bowl matchup as you’ll see. Two strong defensive units should keep the game close throughout, certainly closer than last year’s disaster.
8 of 11 teams to make the Super Bowl the year after winning one have gone of to repeat as champions. Yet the New England Patriots are viewed as the favorites by a majority in the industry — Vegas included.
Last year I confidently believed that Peyton Manning’s Bronco-led offense was too much for Seattle to overcome. Boy was I wrong. I’m not betting against this Seahawks defense again, a defense that looks strikingly similar to last year’s version. New England may boast a more well rounded 53-man, but no individual unit is as dynamic as Seattle’s defense.
TE Rob Gronkowski poses the greatest threat to Seattle’s defense. Barring injury, Gronk will be key to Tom Brady, but Seattle’s athletic linebackers have what it takes to contain him. KJ Wright, Bobby Wagner, Bruce Irvin, and, of course, last years SB MVP Malcolm Smith.
The linebacking core is great, but Seahawk DE’s Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril create maybe the biggest mismatch. LT Nate Solder, who struggles with speed rushers, may have his troubles with Cliff Avril. I’m not expecting much out of Bill Belichick’s run game either. LaGarrett Blount does most of his damage against weak defensive fronts, far inferior to Seattle’s.
Finally, that Seattle secondary, “The Legion of Boom”. The front 7 is able to be so effective because of guys like CB Richard Sherman and S Kam Chancellor. You can entrust Sherman in single coverage without safety help against basically any Patriot receiver. New England doesn’t have that deep threat that we saw during New England’s prime offensive years.
Seattle’s defense is so strong that they can key on Rob Gronkowski without missing a beat. The defense will be the difference in this game, but RB Marshawn Lynch figures to have himself a day on the ground. New England also boasts an extremely strong secondary, so they’ll focus on limiting Lynch on the ground.
Marshawn pulls off a “beast mode” run of unseen proportions late in the 4th to seal the game. Pete Carroll takes his legacy to the next level, while New England falls victim on Super Bowl Sunday for the third consecutive time.
Seahawks 26, Patriots 17
Nick Rose, Staff
A Seahawks-Patriots Super Bowl is one of the most fitting ways to end the 2014 season. Each team dominated their opponents down the stretch. The Patriots finished the season with a 12-4 record after a shaky 2-2 start and a primetime debacle against the Chiefs in Week 4. Likewise, the defending champion Seahawks struggled out of the gate, but closed the season on a six-game winning streak. Both will enter the game riding high in a matchup that will feature one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time against the best defense of the 2010’s.
For the second straight year, Seattle led the league in total defense. Their front seven held opposing running backs to 81.5 yards per game (3rd in the league), and the Legion of Boom proved once again that they are the best secondary in the NFL. Even for Tom Brady, a defense that daunting will surely cause problems. As we saw in the NFC Championship game, the Seahawks defense can force elite quarterbacks to look mediocre. Additionally, the Patriots running game has been streaky all season. For instance, LeGarrette Blount rushed for 148 yards and three touchdowns in the AFC Championship game, but all of New England’s running backs combined only amassed 13 yards against Baltimore in the Divisional round. So, I believe the Patriots offensive success will really hinder on their running game. If it’s good, then they will force the Seahawks outstanding defense to commit to the run, which will open things up for Brady. However, I believe that the combination of Seattle’s strong front seven and the Patriots lack of a definitive starting running back will result in a struggling Patriots offense.
Similarly, I think the Seahawks will face difficulties on offense as well. Russell Wilson is coming off of a lackluster performance, and he will be facing better cornerbacks this week. Darrelle Revis will blanket whoever he’s covering, and Brandon Browner will surely be fired up to face his former team. It really comes down to Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle offensive line. Lynch has strung together some ridiculously strong performances in big games, and this should be no different. New England does have a top-10 run defense, but Lynch is arguably the most powerful rusher in the league, and he seems to come up with miraculous plays whenever Seattle needs it.
The two offenses will likely struggle due to the defensive talent on both sides. That being said, Seattle is slightly superior against the run and significantly better when facing the pass. Not to mention the strength of their own rushing attack versus the Patriots inconsistent one.
Seahawks 23, Patriots 20
Alex Dittmar, Staff
This year’s Super Bowl could be one of the closest and most exciting games we’ve seen in recent history. It pits one of the best defenses of all time for Seattle against the Patriots and they’re offense lead by Tom Brady. The matchup is one of the most anticipated in Super Bowl history and could lead to an epic showdown.
One particular matchup to watch will center around the Seahawks secondary, or the Legion of Boom, who will be key as they attempt to stop the dynamic Patriots passing attack. Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, the best safety duo in the league, will combine to try and stop the best tight end in the league Rob Gronkowski. That will be an intriguing game within the game and will likely be a determining factor. And as they always say, defense wins championships, so the Seattle defense will be important in the outcome of the game.
Ultimately the game will be decided on the other side of the ball though when Marshawn Lynch unleashes beast mode on the Pats D and puts up an MVP caliber performance. His hard running will be what carries the Seahawks to a second consecutive Super Bowl championship. Hopefully it will give a rest to the Patriots “cheater” narrative and we can move on to talk about how impressive and talented this Seahawks team really is.
Seahawks 24, Patriots 23
Ben Osmond, Staff
Super Bowl XLIX will be an intriguing matchup between two teams that boast considerable postseason experience. The New England Patriots represent the American Football Conference while the Seattle Seahawks represent the National Football Conference. The Patriots are led by head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, who are in the running for the greatest coach-quarterback tandem ever. These two share 6 Super Bowl berths as quarterback and head coach, all with the Patriots.
The Seahawks, on the other hand, have a more diversified leadership. Pete Carroll heads the Seahawks. He experienced a great deal of success while coaching at the NCAA level with USC Trojans, rising to national prominence during his 9 year tenure. Before joining the USC coaching staff, he spent time as a coach in the NFL. Russell Wilson is a 3rd year quarterback and already has one Super Bowl win under his belt. He can be erratic at times, as evidenced in last week’s win over Green Bay. Despite this, he has a knack for winning, and that is the most important metric at this stage of the postseason. Seattle also has two ‘loud’ personalities in Richard Sherman and Marshawn. These two make noise on and off the field, for their dominating playstyles and off-the-field comments.
The Seattle Seahawks are the reigning Super Bowl champions. The Patriots have not won a Super Bowl in years, although they have consistently made their presence known in the post season. Both teams can be considered offensive powerhouses; Patriots by air and Seahawks by land. Ultimately, I see Seattle coming away with the victory. Marshawn Lynch is too powerful an option at running back to be shut down. Belichick and Brady have not shown the ability to win a Super Bowl for some time. Seattle’s defense has lead the league in most major categories these past two seasons and the “Legion of Boom” has the ability to slow down Brady. In the passing era of the NFL, the cliche “defense wins championships” is as true as ever.
Seahawks 30, Patriots 21
Tarun Stahish, Staff
This is a bad match for both teams. The dominant secondaries for both teams are wasted by having to face weak WRs. The great Seattle run defense is neutralized since New England’s running game is so bad anyway (unless they’re facing the Colts). Neither team is better than average at rushing the passer or on the offensive line. The key for Seattle on offense will be to get it going on the ground. They run a zone scheme that’s predicated on forcing mistakes, but New England’s defense is built on sticking to their assignments and not over pursuing. For New England, Brady will have to look to Gronkowski early and often, as his other targets should be taken away by the legion of boom, but Seattle’s done well against tight ends with Bobby Wagner and Kam Chancellor defending them. I expect a close game,
New England 24, Seattle 20
Stuart Blair, Staff
The key to beating the Patriots is to run the ball well on offense, and get constant pressure on Tom Brady. Something with Marshawn Lynch and the Legion of Boom the Seahawks excel at, and look to continue. This game plays too well in to the Seahawks strengths for them to lose. Seahawks roll and repeat as champions.
Seattle 24, New England 14
Tyler Turner, Staff
The Super Bowl is the greatest spectacle in all of sports. Wimbledon, the World Series, the NBA Finals, and the Stanley Cup can’t even compare to Americas game. Super Bowl 49 may be the best one yet. As football fans, we were spoiled the past few years. Arizona vs. Pittsburgh in 08’, Giants vs. the Patriots in 2012, and even Ravens 49ers in 2013 were all amazing games. Last February however, many of us couldn’t bare to watch the Seahawks beat down of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. The only entertaining part of the game came when both teams were in the locker room at halftime. Even then Bruno Mars couldn’t save America from Super Bowl 48.
This year the dominant New England Patriots and Tom Brady take on the ball hawking Seattle Seahawks and Richard Sherman in a contest that should be one for the ages. This Super Bowl has everything you want: a quarterback who wears Uggs, a team that likes its balls a little deflated, and a coach who cheated to beat the Jets. Wait a minute I was only talking about the Patriots in that sentence. The other team on Sunday, has a quarterback who is 10-0 against super bowl winning quarterbacks, a defense that will make you think twice about going across the middle and a coach that has taken advantage (the right way) of his third chance as a Head Coach in the NFL . Seattle isn’t immune to doing wrong, but the Patriots have a way of shooting themselves in the foot.
On Sunday I expect a back a forth contest of hard hits, smack talk and great plays. The biggest factor for the Seahawks is Marshawn lynch and for the Patriots is none other than party boy, Rob Gronkowski. Russell Wilson struggled in the NFC Championship game throwing 4 INT’s and barely escaping Green Bay. Seattle will need to rely Lynch to have a big game because a team like New England won’t make the same mistakes Green Bay did. On the Patriots side of the ball, Gronk hasn’t seen a defense all year like Seattle. If the Pats want to win this game, they’ll need Rob to catch everything that comes his way.
Super Bowl 49 will be one that people talk about for years to come. The Seahawks, the Pats and Katy Perry will all preform at their highest levels leaving not just America, but the entire world in awe.
The Seahawks will become the 9th team in NFL History to repeat as Super Bowl champs and they’ll do so in dramatic fashion. Russell Wilson will pull a Big Ben and launch a game winning touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin the end zone as time runs out. Marshawn Lynch will win the MVP and give an emotional speech (maybe going along the lines of “I’m here so I wont get fined.”), while Tom Brady won’t get any high fives and go home losing his third straight Super Bowl.
Seahawks 27, Patriots 24
Morgan Flood, Staff
Not dissimilarly to last year’s Superbowl, this game pits the league’s best defense against a team with a high-powered offense led by a star quarterback. Like last year, there are many saying that the Seahawks will not be able to contain such an offense, but again like last year, defense will be the key to this game. That said, Tom Brady’s Patriots are not Peyton Manning’s Broncos, and they will not go down without a fight – this one is not going to be a snoozer by any stretch of the imagination. Vegas has this one as effectively a pick’em, and I expect it to play out like one. Assuming Russell Wilson and the rest of the Seattle offense perform decently against a very solid New England defense, I’ll take the defending champions, especially with Deflategate drama still swirling around the Pats and the Seahawks having momentum from their impressive comeback to win the NFC Championship.
Seahawks 31, Patriots 28
Arthur Mueller, Staff
The New England Patriots will be able to establish the run behind LaGarrette Blount. The smaller slot receivers will be able to find holes in the Legion of Boom who is coming into the game banged up. Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas were both injured during the NFC Championship game and Kam Chancellor hurt his knee during practice. Russell Wilson looked miserable against the Packers for most of the game and the Patriots have a much better secondary anchored by Pitt star Darrelle Revis as well as pass-rushing specialist Chandler Jones. The Seahawks will be able to build a lead with some field goals spurred by Marshawn Lynch, but in the final two minutes, Tom Brady will be able to lead the Patriots down the field to win his 4th ring.
Patriots 17, Seahawks 15
Seahawks – 7
Patriots – 2