My official prediction is that the Patriots will do this one, like they’ve done 2 of the past 3 in the Bill Belichick era: with a quick and brutal last second application of blunt force trauma.
Call it: 26-24. Gostkowski from 43 out, inside perfect semi-dome conditions (the roof is “scheduled” to be open on Sunday) as the clock rolls to 0:00.
I think it will also be one of the more spectacular and memorable Super Bowls ever, as there will be several different “chapters” inside the game itself.
The easy narrative is that New England has both the “chip on the shoulder” (DeflateGate) and the better QB. Seattle has both concerning injuries (Sherman and Thomas) and an achilles heel of being a very poor come from behind team.
Note: I am well aware of the miracle comeback against Green Bay. But sorry, that was a giveaway, more than anything else. Seattle cannot afford to get down 2 TDs to New England.
But I have tremendous respect now for Legion of Boom (even minus the depth that was peeled off in free agency this winter), Russell Wilson (despite that horrible first 3Q’s vs. Green Bay) and Pete Carroll (despite the fact he skipped out on USC ahead of the sanctions posse, and is an extremely annoying gum-chomping, rah-rah, sideline clown.)
This is a serious and formidable group. And they will not be complacent, intimidated, or unprepared for Brady and the Pats in any way shape or form.
I think we’re going to see some new, never-before-seen wrinkles of the zone-read-option with Wilson, and I think some of them will badly gash the Pats defense and get them on their heels.
I think we’re going to see Marshawn Lynch move the chains with multiple spirit crushing first down runs, when it looks like he was ready to be drilled for a 4 yard loss.
And I think we’ll see Wilson pull a rabbit-trick type of play out of nowhere that makes the haters punch the couch cushions in frustration (like last week’s 2 point conversion balloon-ball).
But I also see the Patriots being relentless, and fearless. I see them going for 4th downs at least two, maybe three times on Sunday. I see Brady have periods of red-hot passing against what is supposed to be an impossible defense to penetrate through the air.
Last year’s delivery of Peyton Manning to a still-under-appreciated Seattle defense, at full strength, was like a big fat thanksgiving turkey under a silver dome.
Manning’s arm strength and “whip” was already in decline a year ago, and the cold weather certainly didn’t help. The fact that Manning’s style of offense requires cooking up every play at the line of scrimmage (“Omaha! Omaha!”) meant road games always put him at a disadvantage.
The “neutral” Meadowlands Super Bowl crowd last year still felt like a road game, and you saw what happened when inexperienced center Manny Ramirez launched that first shot-gun snap over Manning’s head.
The Broncos unravelled like snagged fishing reel, and the Seahawks poured it on. Ah yes, good times, but that’s not what they get this year.
The Seahawks get a lethal and focused team, that truly can play two ways: Slice and dice through the air, and also true power on the ground with multiple backs, not just LeGarrette Blount.
For all of those reasons, I’ll take the Pats in a classic, but it’s the lightest possible “lean” on one side I can make.
I know this: I will me making sure to set the DVR to “Save Until I Delete” because I get the feeling this game might be one of the best, and most fascinating ones ever.