Sunday, February 1, 2015

Super Bowl XLIX

New England +1 versus Seattle: There are so many story lines that have been talked about already that I'm going to just focus on the matchups with the following exception: the line shift is fascinating. After opening with the Seahawks favored by 1, the public overreacted to the Conference Championship Games so much that the line moved about 4 points in the Patriots' favor in the ensuing week, but there must have been heavy money over the last few days to shift it all the way back to Seattle -1. Going against the Wise Guys' big money is cause for concern, but I still feel that New England has the best team.
Beast Mode will be New England's focus since as he goes, so does Seattle.
Much like the Packers, I feel that the Patriots can keep a safety in the box to focus on stopping Marshawn Lynch and play single high, man coverage on the back end. I would expect Darrelle Revis to shadow Doug Baldwin as the de facto #1 receiver for Seattle, and if Devin McCourty can focus on making sure Brandon Browner isn't beat deep by Jermaine Kearse, Russell Wilson will have a hard time finding passing windows. The onus will be on Rob Ninkovich and a healthy Chandler Jones to stay disciplined in their pass rush and be effective in stopping the run, as well.

In addition to his receiving, Gronk's run blocking will be critical.
On the other side, Richard Sherman doesn't tend to move off of his left corner spot, which isn't a huge deal in this game since New England also doesn't consistently rely on a perimeter threat. Julian Edelman moves around the formation so much that he's likely to be heavily involved in short to intermediate passing game, and if Byron Maxwell gets the better of that matchup, I wouldn't be surprised to see him still make an impact through punt returns. Kam Chancellor always makes his presence felt in games, but he will have a hard time keeping up with fellow physical specimen, Rob Gronkowski. Earl Thomas is great at providing help wherever needed, but Gronk can control a game in a variety of ways.

However, as I've written throughout the year, the best way to attack the vaunted Seahawks defense is a power running game, so LeGarrette Blount should figure heavily in the game flow. My dad says it to me nearly every week: you need to run right at them because they are too fast to run wide. Shane Vereen will still be factored in for some easy completions for Tom Brady and to create mismatches, but if the Patriots are going to win, Blount will need to be around 20 carries. Consistently pounding the ground game will make it easier for Brady to take some shots to Brandon LaFell downfield off of play action. And of course, it always comes down to their offensive line providing those opportunities to make plays.

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