After a week that has seemed endless, one of the more exciting Super Bowl matchups in recent memory is finally here. Between the Patriots with “Deflategate” and Marshawn Lynch being himself, there were hundreds of takes so hot they practically melted my computer monitor. While it’s well known there are plenty of story lines around this game, the actual matchup probably hasn’t been talked about enough. With everything considered, this game could end up being very memorable. Here is my x-factor for each team along with my game prediction.
Patriots X-Factor: LeGarrette Blount, running back: Blount is easily the lesser talked about running back in this one, but he could also have a big factor in determining the outcome. With Brandon Mebane out for the year, the Seahawks have struggled against the run in between the trenches. This was evident in the NFC title game by the performance that Eddie Lacy had and Blount can also succeed in those areas. Throwing the ball 40 plus times probably doesn’t bode well for the Patriots in this one, so look for Blount to get work early and often.
Seahawks X-Factor: Jeremy Lane, cornerback: Unless you’re a football junkie or a Seahawks fan chances are you hadn’t heard of Lane until recently. Up until this point, Lane is best known for saying recently that Rob Gronkowski wasn’t that good. I would have gone with the don’t poke the bear mentality when asked about the man known as Gronk, but to each is own.
Now Lane potentially has a huge role in determining the outcome of this game. With Julian Edelman so effective in the slot, he will be lining up there frequently with Lane covering him rather than Richard Sherman or Byron Maxwell. Against this defense, Tom Brady is going to take what’s given to him. Whether it’s six yards here, seven yards there, with a shot down the seam to Gronkowski, In a gameplan like that, Lane will need to frequently be on his toes in coverage against Edelman who should see double digit targets. If Lane and the rest of the Seahawks renowned secondary can limit the Edelman’s and Brandon LaFell’s, they should be in very good shape.
Prediction: This is one of if the closest on paper Super Bowl matchups in recent memory. The only sad part of all that is these teams were both built with the same intentions: to beat the Broncos. Would it have been awesome to see all pro receivers going up against Richard Sherman or Darrelle Revis? Yes it would have, but a Tom Brady/Russell Wilson showdown more than makes up for that. In the end, I’m going with my preseason Super Bowl pick (in this exact matchup by the way) to win and that would be the Seahawks.
The Patriots have struggled way too much against the run in recent weeks to feel confident picking them against Lynch and Wilson. That and while the pass rush has disappeared at times, they have the potential to bother Brady all game long. My prediction is Patriots 23 Seahawks (+1.5) 27