Sports Editor predicts Superbowl XLIX outcome

By AUSTIN HAMM Sports Editor

This has to be the strangest build-up to a Super Bowl in my lifetime. The “Deflategate” talk has dominated the news cycle with questions about Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick’s credibility and legacy continuously coming up. But regardless, the game will be played on Sunday, and maybe for a while, we can ignore the off-field antics and focus on the on-field action. Super Bowl XLIX will give us the chance at some of the best on-field action we’ve seen in a while.

In the Patriots and Seahawks, we have what I unquestionably believe is the two best teams in the NFL this season. I’m aware many Packers’ and Broncos’ fans will cry unfair at that, but Aaron Rodgers hobbling around to win a title doesn’t appeal to me, nor does the apparently injured late season version of Peyton Manning.

In this matchup, we are treated to an all time great in Tom Brady playing quarterback against a Seattle defense that has been dominant for two years. Both sides are playing for a spot in history. Brady can join the last elite club with a fourth Super Bowl win, which would tie him with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana for most Super Bowl wins by a starting quarterback. The Seahawks’ defense has a chance to, for a second consecutive year, beat a future Hall of Fame quarterback in the big game, and in doing so, become a legendarily dominant defense in an era where the game so dramatically favors the offense. 

The other side of the ball has a young, new age read option quarterback looking for a second title in just three years in the league. The defense he’s facing does not provide a historical context in their own right, but the intrigue is still there.

Even besides the men on the field out chasing different pieces of history, the match-up alone provides a dearth of story lines.

When the Patriots’ offense and Brady are on the field, they’ll attempt to set up the pass with the run using LeGarrette Blount. Don’t look for Blount to have a repeat performance of his AFC championship game, as he will be stymied by Seattle’s All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner. If the run game is held back, the Patriots will look to get the ball to their top playmakers in underneath routes, working Julian Edelman on shallow routes and Rob Gronkowski in the seam. The Seahawks are uniquely equipped for stopping these weapons, with strong safety and resident athletic freak Kam Chancellor bringing the physical abilities to be the medicine for the Gronk that ails defenses. Meanwhile, look for nickel corner Jeremy Lane to be across from Edelman when he lines up in the slot. He has the speed and the physicality to disrupt Edelman’s routes. If Chancellor and Lane can both win their match-up, Brady will be forced to try and pass outside the numbers to someone like Brandon Lafell, who has a very unfavorable match against corners Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell. 

The major question when the Seahawks have the ball will be if the New England defense can maintain their discipline against the read option attack. The Seahawks will look to create misdirection and get the ball in space. With no Percy Harvin heroics this year, the task of taking the big chunks of yardage will likely fall on the legs of Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks have not overly relied on an outside deep passing attack this season, and they likely won’t get a chance to show one off this week, as Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse will spend the evening shadowed by Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. The running game is the ‘Hawks best chance to move the ball. 

When it’s all said and done, the most prominent thing in all this is, to me, that the Seahawks have built themselves around not having the very things the Patriots specialize in removing, while their defense looks to be almost built to stop this year’s Tom Brady offense. That, combined with their ability to control games and win low scoring battles their style creates, leaves me believing that Tom Brady is going to miss out on number four yet again, while the Seahawks’ defense will enter the All-Time discussion after Chancellor lays waste to all in his path and forces at least one turnover. 

FINAL PREDICTION – Seattle 27 New England 21, MVP- Kam Chancellor.