|Photo courtesy of TIME|
I'm happy that it's actually game day, so we can finally end all the talk of deflated balls, fire alarms, and not speaking to the media, and actually focus on what's happening on the field, which is probably the most intriguing matchup of the 2014 season.
Here are the possible outcomes:
- Bryan Stork plays, Gronk > Kam Chancellor, and LeGarrette Blount carries the ball 24 times for 100 yards and 3 TDs to devour the clock. Pats win a close one.
- Russell Wilson shows great command and is able to control the ball, making smart decisions with his arm and legs, while on the other side, Seattle's defense slows down the Patriots just enough.
- The Seahawks pass rush is dominant, they're able to run the ball effectively with Lynch, and they win a blowout for the second straight Super Bowl.
Richard Sherman's arm falls off, or his girlfriend goes into labor and he skips the game to see the birth of his child, Blount is the Second Coming, Wilson plays worse than he did in the first half against Green Bay, and Gronk spikes Chancellor into the field, never to be hear from again. The Pats cruise
As you see, I think there's no chance that the Patriots blow Seattle out of the water. I would put all of my money down that the Pats don't win this game by more than 17 points, while there's a chance that the Seahawks get on a roll and dominate the game. The fact that New England was favorited recently is ridiculous. (At least the line is even now.)But the rest of these are all within the realm of possibility.
The first half of the NFC Championship Game was an aberration. The Seahawks will not play that poorly again, They're all about ball control, so four interceptions is highly unlikely. Throwing the ball will be useless because their receivers aren't very good, and will struggle mightily to get open against New England's very good secondary. Seattle will come out and try to ram it down the throats of the Pats tonight. They should have a good amount of success doing so, because the Pats aren't so great against the run. Expect to see a few big gains from Marshawn Lynch, but unfortunately sans crotch grab.
On the other side, the old storyline of pressuring Tom Brady comes into play. The Seahawks don't have one dominant pass rusher, but they can rotate a bunch of solid ones. Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, O'Brien Schofield, and Bruce Irvin all get the job done when working together despite not being stars in their own right as pass rushers. They will be able to bother Tom Brady, which as we all know by now is the way to beat him.
For that reason, there should be a lot of short, quick passes run by the Pats. Usually, that has been very successful for them, but Seattle is probably the best team in the league at tackling to minimize short gains. The Legion of Boom, as well as K.J. Wright and Bobby (S)Wagner patrolling the middle of the field won't allow a quick out to Julian Edelman to turn into a long play.
The best way to attack the Seahawks is by running the ball, so much like with Lynch, LeGarrette Blount should be heavily featured in this game. He'll have a decent amount of success, but not a great game.
So there's the game I expect to see this evening. A tough, physical game won in the trenches, where the game is decided by who can run the ball better. And in a game that comes down to who has the better line, and the better running back, the Seahawks could beat any team in the NFL.
Seahawks (Pick'Em) over Patriots.
Seahawks 23, Patriots 17.
MVP: Marshawn Lynch- 29 carries, 143 yards, 2 TD. The image of Lynch accepting the MVP trophy with Goddell right next to him is what dreams are made of. Lynch vs. The NFL will have its happy ending after all (until he pisses them off next year).
Championship Round: 1-1