For the second straight year, the top seeds in both the AFC and NFC are meeting in the Super Bowl, with the AFC champion Patriots battling the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks, who are the first team to play in consecutive Super Bowls since the Patriots in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
Much of the talk over the last couple of weeks has been about the Deflategate controversy stemming from the Patriots’ 45-7 win over the Colts in the AFC Championship game. It’s not surprising, given the final score, but the Pats’ offense looked good in that game, with QB Tom Brady throwing three touchdowns and one interception while RB LaGarrette Blount ran for 148 yards and three touchdowns of his own. WR Julian Edelman and TE Rob Gronkowski led the receiving core, with Edelman catching nine balls for 98 yards and Gronk scoring on one of his three receptions.
The NFC champs didn’t perform as well as the Patriots did in their last game, needing a fourth-quarter comeback and overtime to beat the Packers, 28-22. RB Marshawn Lynch led Seattle’s offense in the game, rushing for more than 150 yards and a touchdown while QB Russell Wilson threw four interceptions and just one touchdown. A few key mistakes by the Packers helped Seattle come back from a 16-0 halftime deficit to win the game and a chance at a second straight Super Bowl title for the Pete Carroll-coached team.
Moving on to the Super Bowl, a battle between one of the league’s best quarterbacks and one of its best defenses. The Patriots’ main advantages are at quarterback and wide receiver/tight end, while Seattle has the advantage at running back and defense, though they have some potential injury problems on D. CB Richard Sherman suffered an elbow injury in the NFC Champiosnhip game and S Kam Chancellor suffered a knee injury in practice on Friday. Neither player is expected to miss the game due to the injuries, but they may not be 100%. Sherman may miss the game, though, if his girlfriend goes into labor Sunday.
Particularly with the injury concerns’ for the Seahawks’ defensive stars, I think Brady will be able to get the ball to guys like Gronk and Edelman and the running backs can do enough when needed that the Patriots will be able to score enough to get the win. Wilson didn’t look good two weeks ago against the Packers, until the fourth quarter, and if he throws another four interceptions the Patriots will be able to take advantage of it.
I think this will be a fairly low-scoring game but the Patriots win it, 27-20 (just under the 47.5 over/under)