Friday, January 30, 2015

What About Me? Clown Without Pity's 2015 Super Bowl Pick

A semi-significant part of the fun in following a sport is making predictions. It also happens to be conducive to shit-talking, which is fun.  Just ask Tom Brady.  Or Richard Sherman.

Since it’s the last game of this infamous NFL season, I figured I’d lay down my prediction for all ten of you who are going to read this before the big game. 

On paper, Seattle’s the safe pick. Great defenses tend to beat good offenses. Tom Brady, Mr. Gray Hoodie, and The Greatest Show on Turf know that. Teams with the top-ranked scoring defense are 15-5 in the Super Bowl, 7-1 since 1990. 23 of the 48 Super Bowl victors have fielded a top-3 defense.

I’ll try to keep my un-expert analysis of this game brief. Basically, whoever wins the battle between New England’s offensive line versus Seattle’s front four will probably win this game. Put another way: if Seattle’s pass rush doesn’t show up again, they’re not going to repeat as champions. Belichick is far too wily and aggressive to squander a game like Mike McCarthy did in the NFC Championship. For me, that’s the key question for the Super Bowl: will New England’s offensive line give Brady enough time to pick apart Seattle’s defense?

On the other side, it’s hard to imagine Russell Wilson—who I would still include in a top-5 list of Quarterbacks You Would Want to Run Your Offense If Your Life Depended On a Victory—having another awful game. He might never throw four picks in a game again. However, I think the NFC Championship game showed us that you don’t necessarily have to shut down Marshawn Lynch to beat the Seahawks; you have to stop Russell Wilson from making plays. With Clay Matthews Jr. primarily used as a spy, the Packers held Wilson to an underwhelming 25 yards on 7 carries in the championship game, far below his 7.7 yards per-carry average during the regular season. Belichick will probably have a combination of Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower keeping their eyes on him. They’re smart, capable players. Collins ran a 4.64 40-yard dash at his combine while Matthews ran a 4.67, so he has the speed to contain Wilson from gallivanting about the field.

Plus—we’ll see if I’m right—but I have a feeling this will be a game when the Seahawks will sorely miss having Percy Harvin or speedy rookie Paul Richardson at their disposal. Their lack of talent at the skill positions can make this another long day for Russell Wilson. Belichick will likely put Revis Island on Doug “No One Respects Us!” Baldwin while a combination of former PEDhawk Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington should keep Jermaine Kearse from going wild over the top. Lynch can get his yards as long as the Patriots don’t let him bust some long Beast Mode runs. The key is eventually getting Seattle into third-and-longs and containing Wilson. If the Patriots defense can do that, I can see Wilson having another poor performance.

Against the statistical trends I outlined above, I’m picking New England. Last year’s Seattle defense was something else; they pressured quarterbacks at a much higher clip than this year’s defense. Last year’s defense should be in the conversation of best ever; they were right up there with the best defenses I've witnessed: the 2000 Baltimore Ravens and the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With significantly depleted depth at defense line in comparison to last year’s roster, I think they’re a vulnerable #1 defense.

Prediction: New England 27, Seattle 20 

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