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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Super Bowl XLIX Preview

After five months of football, there is only one game remaining in this season.  On Sunday afternoon, the New England Patriots will play the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX.  This game features the top team from each conference and is widely regarded as one of the most evenly matched Super Bowls of all time.

New England vs. Seattle:  Sunday at 6:30 p.m. EST on NBC.  I'll be honest.  The reason it took me until the night before the game to post this column is because I have waffled all week long about who to pick in this game and why.  I'm not alone in struggling to predict this game.  The seers in the desert have set the betting line for Super Bowl XLIX at a virtual pick 'em  But, fence-sitting is for cowards, and I am no coward.

The intriguing thing about this game is that both teams mirror each other's strengths and weaknesses. The Seahawks are famous for their Legion of Boom defense.  But, that defense has been vulnerable to tight ends all season, and New England has the best tight end in the league in Rob Gronkowski.  The recipe to beating the Patriots in the past has been to pressure Tom Brady up the middle.  However, Seattle's interior pass rush has not been particularly effective this season while New England's interior offensive lineman have been very solid over the second half of the season.  New England's cornerback Brandon Browner has been susceptible to costly pass interference calls this season, but Seattle really does not have the explosive wide receivers to exploit the handsy Browner.

I expect both defenses to play well.  Points will be at a premium.  In the end, the deciding factor in this game is going to be Seattle's running game.  Marshawn Lynch's power combined with Russell Wilson's deception on the read option will create just enough offense to push the Seahawks to victory.

Seattle will accomplish the rare feat of winning back-to-back Super Bowl championships.  Seattle:  21-17.

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