New England Patriots (14-4 SU, 10-8 ATS) vs. Seattle Seahawks (14-4 SU, 11-7 ATS)
Super Bowl XLIX
Date and Time: Sunday, February 1, 2015 at 6:30PM EST
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NE pk/SEA pk
Over/Under Total: 48.5
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Super Bowl 49 is upon us and as many expected, it will be the New England Patriots facing the Seattle Seahawks on February 1 for all the marbles. It is a titanic matchup between the two conference powers. New England won a tough divisional playoff game against the Ravens before smashing Indianapolis 45-7 in the AFC title game to get to this enviable spot. Meanwhile, Seattle handled Carolina in the divisional round, before staging a miraculous comeback to beat the Packers in overtime in the NFC title game.
Seattles win over Green Bay was almost unbelievable and has to be on the short list of great postseason comebacks. It was as emotional a win as you could ask for. It helps that they now have two weeks to recoup after a game that couldnt have been more draining, punishing, and triumphant. When Russell Wilson threw an INT with about 5 minutes left with Seattle down 19-7, it looked to be a wrap. For them to soldier back into the lead somehow, then allow Green Bay to tie it late, only to conclusively win in OT was a feat that will be remembered for years to come. To give that accomplishment more teeth, however, they need to close the show in this game. Seattle has a chance to become the first team to repeat as Super Bowl Champions since 1999, when the Denver Broncos pulled it off.
In order to do that, Seattle will have to beat a peaking New England team that knows what its like to win the big one. With the win on Sunday, Brady became the only NFL quarterback in history to win 6 conference championship games. This will be his 6th appearance in the Super Bowl. With coach Belichick, this is a duo of men who know what it takes to be here and emerge as champions.
The thing about New England is that they dont follow predictable patterns–on either side of the ball. Coach Belichick and his staff customizes their approach for every game. Theres some things they do better than others, but theyre a difficult team to describe. They are sort of formless, in a sense. You look at their team and theyre ranked mid-pack across most pertinent areas on offense and defense. Theres Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and some good players on both sides of the ball. But its not a team exploding with name-power. They do it as a team, a real team that comes together into one cohesive unit, galvanized by great coaching and the knowledge of knowing theyve done it all before.
The 45-7 result over the Colts was eye-popping. This was a good Indy team that was hungry to take the next step in their progression, with a budding star under center. And they were just decimated by New England. The Patriots executed and had the perfect plan on both sides of the ball and we saw the difference between merely a good team and a potential champion. This wasnt a week 7 win over Tampa were talking about. To issue that kind of beating in a conference title game against a high-flying team like the Colts only emphasizes the true menace and worth of this Pats squad.
Then again, Im not sure what the Seahawks pulled off wasnt more impressive. On one hand, they needed some stars to line up and easily could have lost that game. It was hardly a decisive win, like what the Patriots had, but it was a testament to a championship team. When the chips were down, they showed tremendous self-belief, clutch play, and heart. Those traits tend to translate well in a Super Bowl setting.
Seattle took some knocks in their conference title win, with Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, III. nursing some injuries. They still have last years Super Bowl MVP in Byron Maxwell and someone in that loaded secondary always seems to step up. And its not like Sherman or Thomas wont be in there. It has been said that both will be in there, perhaps in a compromised form. But Pats fans shouldnt be counting on that to win.
Normally when betting on the Super Bowl, its all about the point-spread. This game opens as a pick-em, which means we can focus on the pure angle of who will win. Somehow, that doesnt make it easier. This is a toughie. Seattle has more readily identifiable reasons why they are here in the big game. They run the heck out of the ball. Their defense is top-notch. They are champions and play accordingly and can come through in a pinch, as they showed against Green Bay.
But when looking for quick answers as to why New England made it this far, one has to search a bit. Brady is great. A running back always seems to step up, as LeGarrette Blount has, and they have a pretty good defense. But they dont have the concrete identity that Seattle has. New England is more formless. They are solid in an all-around sense, with masterful game-planning and team chemistry at the root of their success. On paper and even statistically, New England may not immediately come across as a Super Bowl-quality team. They do a lot of the little things. Theyre a team in the true sense of the word and get the absolute most out of what they have.
New England didnt have it easy this season. At 2-2 and coming off a MNF throttling at the hands of the Chiefs, it was hard to project them getting to this spot. At this point, everyone is caught up in the aftereffects of Seattles emotional and galvanizing win in the NFC championship. But the Patriots didnt take the easy road to this spot, either. It took a lot of grit and inner-resource for them to orchestrate such a massive turnaround. And it would be a surprise if they came out in this spot and laid an egg.
Seattles defense got put in so many tough positions last Sunday and still thrived, holding a powerful and typically-opportunistic Green Bay to 22 points. In the first half, seemingly every time you looked at the screen, Green Bay was in the red zone. One could figure the defense wont be put behind the 8-ball to such an extent in this game. In a game that could come down to the end, I see the more-bankable Seattle defense making the difference once again, as the Seahawks repeat as Super Bowl champions.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Seattle Seahawks in a pick-em.