New England Patriots (14-4 SU, 10-8 ATS) vs. Seattle Seahawks (14-4 SU, 10-7-1 ATS)
Super Bowl 49
Date and Time: Sunday, February 1, 2015, 6:30 pm EST
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NE pick/SEA. pick
Over/Under Total: 48.5
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With both conference championships now almost 24 hours old, you can consider this game preview the first of 13 days, 312 hours and 18,720 minutes of wall-to-wall coverage of the tussle between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks otherwise known as Super Bowl 49 held once again at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
The Seahawks earned the right to defend their NFL title with a perfect storm of execution in the final five minutes of their, 28-22, victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game Sunday. The Packers fell apart, and Seattle was there at every opportunity to pick up all the breaks as the Seahawks rallied to steal away back-to-back NFC titles and a chance to become the NFLs first repeat champion since the 2005 season.
Ironically, the team Seattle will face in this years big game IS the last team to earn consecutive Lombardi trophies when the Seahawks take on the New England Patriots. The Patriots, head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady earned their sixth trip to the NFLs showcase event will a lopsided, 45-7, victory over the Indianapolis Colts in Sundays AFC Championship. The win also gave the Patriots their eighth franchise appearance in the Super Bowl, tying them with the Steelers and Cowboys for the most all-time in the NFL.
But the Seahawks going for back-to-back titles and the Patriots making the record-tying eight attempt arent the only juicy storylines going for this years biggest and brightest NFL game of the season.
Belichick replaced Seattle coach Pete Carroll in New England and has turned the Pats into a model franchise in the NFL, meanwhile Carroll turned USC into a professional organization on the West Coast before creating the winning attitude with the Seahawks that has turned them into the team to beat in the NFC. The last Super Bowl to feature coaches taking over for each other was when Jon Gruden won a title in Tampa Bay facing his former team and Bill Callahan in Oakland.
A previous meeting between the Patriots and Seahawks could also be considered the coming out party for Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. In a one-point come-from-behind Seattle victory over the Patriots in 2012, it was Sherman who talked his first-ever post-game trash asking Brady in front of the TV cameras in the middle of the field during the post-game handshakes you mad bro? That launched Shermans post-game, trash-talking days and you can certainly bet if still remembered to this day by Brady and Patriots fans everywhere.
Interestingly enough, even though this Super Bowl matchup is less than a day old, its already had its fair share of line movement in regards to the point spread. With the Patriots AFC title game well in hand but still not completely over, several sportsbooks in Las Vegas opened up the final game with Seattle as early 2.5-point favorites. By the time LaGarrette Blount was done pounding the Colts defense and the Patriots were hoisting the AFC trophy, the point spread had completely flipped to where it currently is listed as a pick em.
The over/under total has also seen a little of turbulence since its opening release, originating at 48 before going up to 48.5 and even 49 at some sportsbooks.
The biggest factor to keep on eye on as this game approaches kickoff, and the one that will be the most talked about no doubt, is the health of the Seahawks secondary. With safety Earl Thomas confirming he has a separated shoulder, and Sherman sporting a gimpy elbow, both courtesy of a hard-fought championship game, how quickly if at all those two can get back into playing shape will factor largely in the game-planning and outcome of the Super Bowl. A healthy Rob Gronkowski running loose down the middle of the Seahawks secondary with a less-than 100 percent Thomas could force Kam Chancellor to play more of a centerfielder role and get Chancellor away from the line of scrimmage where hes most effective.
For the first time since his rookie season Russell Wilson looked like an average quarterback for three and a half quarters last Sunday, but he bounced back from throwing four interceptions to throw the game-winner into tight coverage in overtime last Sunday over the Packers. I expect more Beast Mode with Marshawn Lynch against what some football purists would call light ends Rob Ninkovich (260 lbs.) and Chandler Jones (265) and lighter linebacker Jamie Collins (250) across from Gronk on the edge.
In the 2012 matchup, the Seahawks defense forced Brady into two interceptions and Wilson played lights out (293 yards, 3 TD) as Seattle scored the final 14 points to take victory away late. The biggest difference this time around will be Blount, who will give Belichick and Brady a little Beast Mode of their own in a ploy to make Thomas and Sherman come up and tackle with sore shoulders and elbows. Steven Ridley led the Patriots with 16 carries in the last meeting, a number the Pats would love to give Blount in a perfect world come Super Bowl Sunday.
As far as a Super Bowl betting trend is concerned, the fact that New England is 0-4 ATS in their last four Super Bowl games is cause for alarm. Seattle is 5-2 ATS in their last seven playoff games, whereas the Patriots are just 4-11 ATS in their last 15 playoff games.
In another ironic twist of fate, its actually the Patriots more likely to play under the total (under is 4-1 in NEs last five Super bowl appearances) then the defensive Seahawks and the Legion of Boom. Seattle actually plays over the total, with the over going 9-3 in their last 12 playoff games.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread:I wonder how long this game will remain a pick em, because it truly is one of the closest, most evenly matched Super Bowls in recent history. Both teams have survived a near knockout game in the playoffs, so it will be no holds barred action. My worry is like everyones worry, can the Pats and Brady come up with a game plan that can take advantage of the questionable health of the Seahawks secondary. The only problem is the Seahawks secondary is so good, it could play right into their hands if Thomas and Sherman can refresh and rebound. Even still, I look for Brady to pick apart the middle of the field with Gronk and a combo of Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola on crossing routes. New England with a late Brady throw to one of those two will win it. Im leaning New England as my pick.