Now that the dust has settled on the – let’s just say – eventful Conference Championship games, we can now look forward to an NFL feast next Sunday night as both of the top-ranked teams head off in the ‘greatest show on earth’ as the New England Patriots take on the Seattle Seahawks for Super Bowl 49 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
After New England mauled the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday, every bookmaker has altered their odds considerably on the outcome of next weekend’s matchup. Before a down was played in Seattle/Green Bay game, the Seahawks were the favourites to claim the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the second successive year – and by a considerable distance. Several layers now make New England as their market leader and the rest of the firms have the game as a level odds, take your pick choice.
In this article, we will discuss the merits of both teams to see who could emerge victorious, in what promises to be a classic contest.
Chequered path to the final
New England’s path to the Super Bowl began with a 12-4 record in the regular season, which was enough to claim the AFC East division and the number one seeding. That privilege yielded a home game against the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round of the play-offs. New England had to come back from a 14-point deficit on two occasions in the contest to eventually see off a Ravens’ outfit who gave the Patriots a huge fright. New England then found their best form against Indianapolis in last weekend’s AFC Championship game in a 45-7 blowout win.
There has been some media controversy after the win over Indianapolis with some investigation into the Patriots’ alleged doctoring of the match balls, which has been flatly – pardon the pun – refuted by New England head coach Bill Belichick, and quarterback Tom Brady. What cannot be in question was the effectiveness of the Patriots team on both sides of the football against the Colts – and a repeat performance next Sunday night will surely make the Patriots very difficult to beat.
Back from the brink
Seattle also claimed the top seeding in the National Football Conference with a similar 12-4 regular season performance. The Seahawks overcame Carolina in the divisional round in a routine 31-17 win. The NFC Championship game with Green Bay however, was a polar opposite. The course of events that took place at CenturyLink Field can only be described as incredible. Seattle trailed by 12 points with just over two minutes left of regulation play. The Seahawks somehow managed to score two touchdowns via the benefit of securing an onside kick – and claimed a two-point conversion which left the Packers amazingly requiring a field goal to force overtime.
Green Bay kicker, Mason Crosby duly obliged which forced an extra period. On third and long, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw downfield and connected with Jermaine Kearse who sent the 12th man fan base into raptures of celebration – in a contest that had everything and more.
Super Bowl XLIX will be the typical clash of styles contest. New England with their high-powered offensive machine, conducted by Brady, will take on a fierce, and hugely determined Seattle defensive unit – who could be anointed as the greatest defense of all time by many respected judges if successful in this game. It is wholly possible however that the strengths of each team could well be nullified and the game may hinge on the Patriots’ defense holding the Seahawks offense.
The game is very difficult to predict, but if a gun was placed to my head, then Seattle would be the call. There is an age-old saying in American Football that defenses – not offenses – win championships, and Seattle has one of the very best in history.