2015 Super Bowl XLIX, Bill Belichick, Bobby Wagner, Brandon Browner, Bruce Irvin, Bryan Stork, Byron Maxwell, Cliff Avril, Danny Amendola, Darrelle Revis, Devin McCourty, Doug Baldwin, Earl Thomas, Jamie Collins, Jeremy Lane, Jermaine Kearse, Jonas Gray, Jordan Hill, Julian Edelman, Kam Chancellor, Kevin Williams, KJ Wright, LeGarrette Blount, Logan Ryan, Luke Willson, Malcolm Smith, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Bennett, Michael Hoomanawanui, New England Patriots, O'Brien Schofield, Patrick Chung, Pete Carroll, Richard Sherman, Rob Gronkowsi, Robert Turbin, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks, shane vereen, Tom Brady
2015 Super Bowl XLIX Bettor’s Guide
We have reached the finish line (sadly, in some peoples’ eyes) of the NFL season. While we can get caught up in national signing day in college football, the NFL combine, the first wave of free agency (March 1), the NFL draft and OTAs/training camp, there is nothing like the NFL regular season. Except the Super Bowl. And we (on paper, at least) will finally have a great Super Bowl for the first time in three years.
Unless New England finds themselves overwhelmed by Seattle’s defense like Denver was last year, which could happen.
SUPER BOWL XLIX
Sunday, February 1, 2015
My Call: SEA +1
Over/Under: Under 47.5
This game is actually a very simple call, but made complex, because the only thing that will likely swing this game is turnovers, which are impossible to predict going into a game. New England will look to use the short passing game to set up the run game. Seattle predominantly plays Cover 1/3 (about 65% of total snaps, the rest in variations of man coverage), but when they are in those zones — particularly Cover 3 — the short passing game is left open, where Seattle relies on its defensive team speed and sure tackling to limit yards after the catch, which they have done well all season, while leading the NFL in fewest PPG, rush yards per game, and passing yards per game. Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin will leave their stamp on this game in some fashion.
Kam Chancellor is the focal point of the Seattle defense in this game, because the majority of what New England will either have success doing (or fail to do) is whether or not Chancellor can match up with Rob Gronkowski, and how well Seattle limits the short routes to Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola — where Chancellor is often in the box in Cover 1. When in man looks, New England will resort to “legal” pick play to gain separation from Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell. However, Chancellor is often no more than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage, and cleans up the plays along with Earl Thomas.
Thomas and Sherman’s health is of relative non-issue at this point. Both will play and be as close to full go as can be expected, not limited.
Seattle will employ several looks to take away Gronkowski, but they will not leave Edelman, Amendola, Brandon LaFell and the seldom-used Tim Wright or Michael Hoomanawanui. LeGarrette Blount is a battering ram of a running back, not one that gives Seattle’s fast and sure-tackling defense many problems. Patriots’ Center, Bryan Stork’s health is of concern, as his reach blocks allow for him to take away defensive tackles and open rushing lanes for Blount and Shane Vereen (and some Jonas Gray, at times), while buying Tom Brady time in the pocket. Seattle does not get tons of sacks — itself a relatively overrated statistic — they get off the ball extremely quickly and force QBs off their spots and rushing throws without setting their feet; something that the New York Giants did extremely well in defeating the Patriots in both of their most recent Super Bowl wins over New England. This is a major issue for New England, and given the Patriots’ struggles with similar pass rushes (New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions) it does not bode necessarily well for them facing Seattle’s front seven/eight. Bobby Wagner is too rangy for New England to get much done over the middle of the field, which is something that is being overlooked by most pundits. Wagner does not blitz (Seattle rarely does), so he is able to use his 4.4 speed to run sideline to sideline to take away the intermediate action, which is what New England does 90% of the time. This plays into Seattle’s hands.
If New England has to go 80 yards on multiple drives, chances are they won’t find the end zone more than once or twice in this game. If they are able to turn over Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense, they can get shorter fields and capitalize better than most teams. Seattle had the second-fewest turnovers (14) in the NFL this season. Only Green Bay and New England (13) had fewer, and almost all of New England’s turnovers were away from home, for reasons that remain in dispute in the minds of some.
Seattle rushes the football more than any team, and had the second-fewest passing attempts in the NFL this season. That says that the Seahawks go Marshawn Lynch-Russell Wilson/Wilson-Lynch (on the ground) and then Luke Willson/Doug Baldwin/Jermaine Kearse and others after sucking in the defense. New England got trampled on the ground against Baltimore, and Seattle has two guys to account for who can run the football both inside the tackles (Lynch) and breaking contain (Wilson, and Lynch out of the zone-read).
New England will beat up the Seattle receivers on the initial coverage, but when the plays break down, Brandon Browner is a complete liability, and Revis is obviously much less effective (as are most cornerbacks) when they have to cover for 5-7 seconds. Wilson will force New England to cover for that amount of time in certain instances. What New England does in those moments is where this game will be decided. If New England is able to contain Wilson (they have not shown to have the personnel to do so, nor do their statistical tendencies suggest that they are proficient at doing so), they will be in a close game and not facing the Giants for Brady to potentially win the game late. If they are unable to stop the double-headed rushing attack, New England is going to get worn out on defense. Seattle’s defense will lean on New England for the most part, and whether they force turnovers is anyone’s guess. Receivers won’t have big games for either team unless there is a coverage breach, so the game will be played between the numbers on both sides. Seattle is a better bet because the QB is a dual threat. Tom Brady is a sitting duck against a better and more athletic pass rush.
Barring turnovers, Seattle wins.
New England 17