Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, January 30, 2015 at 12:09 PM
THE SUPER BOWL XLIX PREVIEW - IT'S THE PATRIOTS VS. SEAHAWKS IN A DELICIOUS DESERT DUEL
Just think about it ...Super Bowl XLIX is pitting the last team to repeat as champions (the New England Patriots, 2003-04) against the defending SB champions (the Seattle Seahawks) and the good folks in Las Vegas are basically telling you to go ahead and tell them who's gonna win.
The game is Pick 'Em in many venues; the Patriots are favored by a single point in some other joints we've checked with and so there's no mumbo-jumbo talk from your buddies or the so-called media experts who often times in the past told you they liked Team A to win but not to cover the pointspread ... hey, no cop-outs here, folks.
So you do you like already?
Well, if you've been a regular Jim Sez reader over the years then you know one of our major Super Bowl philosophies and that's this: What is the single-most dominant unit on the field here?
Hmm, this year that one's a tough question to answer considering the Patriots are the NFL's #1-ranked offense and the Seahawks are the league's top-ranked defense and so this is no clear-cut thing like we had, let's say, with the 1985 Chicago Bears (the best defense in 50 years).
On the one hand, pro-Patriots backers claim QB Tom Brady and mates are hitting on all cylinders after scoring 35 points in an AFC Divisional Playoff win against Baltimore and then 45 points in the AFC Championship Game win against Indianapolis;
On the other hand, who wouldn't say the Seahawks are a "team of destiny" after that epic come-from-behind 28-22 overtime win against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game two weekends ago ... doesn't Seattle appear to be absolutely bullet-proof at this stage?
So, is it a repeat ... or a re-birth?
The Seahawks - a 4-to-1 choice to win it all prior to the start of this season -- have won eight games in a row SU (straight-up) ever since that 24-20 setback in Kansas City way back in Week 11. The NFC champs are sizzlin' hot!
Meanwhile, it's hard to believe that it has been 10 years since New England won its last Super Bowl crown but now the Deflate-Gate crowd is back for another shot at that shiny Vince Lombardi Trophy and the Patriots - at 8-to-1 odds to win all prior to the start of the 2014 season - surge into cactus country having won 12 of their last 14 overall games since that humbling/bumbling 41-14 Monday Night Football loss in Kansas City back in Week 4.
Time to get it on!
SUPER BOWL XLIX
University of Phoenix Stadium - Glendale, AZ
NEW ENGLAND (14-4) vs. SEATTLE (14-4) - 6:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Nobody needs to remind the Patriots that the last time they played on this field the "perfect team" proved to be not so perfect after all with a stunning 17-14 loss to the 12-point underdog New York Giants back in Super Bowl 42.
Now, the Pats are hoping this trip back to the desert will be slightly more fulfilling but what turned out to be a very big storyline in that game will be a major storyline here ... will the Seahawks defense get to Brady as that 2007 NY Giants' defense did?
Note that Seattle sacked Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers only once in the aforementioned NFC Championship Game and that's not gonna fly here if the Seahawks plan on banging out another Super Bowl "W". True, the Seattle secondary - a/k/a The Legion of Boom - is arguably the best set of defensive backs in this league spanning back the last 25-to-30 years but unless the Seahawks can get in Brady's grill and pound him here than the likes of Pro Bowl CB Richard Sherman, CB Byron Maxwell and safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas can't be expected to cover TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Julian Edelman and friends all day long.
Hey, the Patriots have averaged 43 pass attempts in their two playoff victories this winter and prefer a 70/30 pass/run ratio here in Arizona - just how Seattle defenders deal with Brady in the pocket will be the biggest key in this tilt.
On the flip side, it'll be extremely interesting to see if the Seahawks get shaken off their offensive game plan that figures to get RB Marshawn Lynch and QB Russell Wilson a combined 30-to-40 rushes. Note that Seattle never did discard the game plan despite being down 19-7 with five-plus minutes left against Green Bay as Lynch (25 carries for 157 yards and one 24-yard TD romp) and Wilson (seven carries for 25 yards versus the Packers) both stayed the course while averaging a haughty 5.7 yards a carry.
No doubt the Seattle passing game - which didn't get much help from WRs Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse until very late in that win against Green Bay - must make some chunk plays here or else New England DT Vince Wilfork and mates will get to challenge a one-dimensional offense.
THE KEYS - The Seahawks faced plenty of third-and-longs in that recent win against Green Bay and somehow managed to go 8-of-16 on third-down conversions (remember that Seattle faced third-and-seven or longer a bunch). No doubt Wilson and Company can't "get behind the sticks" here or that above-mentioned top-ranked defense will be forced to deal with Brady and, truthfully, how many times are they gonna stop him if/when he gets into a neat rhythm?
Meanwhile, don't discount how important an early score will be - last year it was Denver QB Peyton Manning looking amateurish on that safety that truly opened up the floodgates in the Seahawks' easy romp at The Meadowlands (see 8-0 after the first quarter, 22-0 at halftime en route to a 43-8 finale). Seattle may have orchestrated that major comeback win against Green Bay in the NFC title game but the Seahawks are at their bully-best when in the lead.
THE COACHES - New England's Bill Belichick is no stranger to Super Bowls as this is his sixth trip to the big game in the past 14 years but did you know that he's just 1-4-1 ATS in his previous five Super Bowl games? Belichick - who won titles in 2001, '03 and '04 - spent plenty of pre-Super Bowl time fending off (or trying to) the deflated football issues that have surrounded the Patriots the past two weeks but numero uno on his "to-do list" here is stuffing RB Lynch and making sure his defense contains the red-option runs of QB Wilson.
Meanwhile, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll is making his second straight Super Bowl appearance and everyone knows how many big games he coaches when at USC in the 2000s - the big stage won't rattle this uber-enthusiastic coach who's not afraid to take chances (see that fake field goal for a touchdown versus Green Bay).
THE INTANGIBLES/X-FACTORS - Odds are the Seahawks will be needing someone other than Lynch and/or Wilson to make big plays here and we've suggested RB Robert Turbin could be a big key but if TE/WR Luke Willson is a chain-mover on third downs than he could save the defending champs here. On the flip side, New England needs its 100-yard-type receiving game from Gronkowski but WR Brandon LaFell (just 4 catches for 2 yards against Indianapolis in the AFC Championship Game) must step it up and most hang onto the football.
Finally, you know everyone's gonna be chatting up special teams - both New England PK Stephen Gostkowski and Seattle PK Steven Hauschka are ultra-dependable sorts but remember how important it is to capitalize any time a team's offense is inside or just outside the red zone. We always think back to that New Orleans' win in the Super Bowl at the end of the 2009 season when PK Garrett Hartley nailed field goals from 46, 44 and 47 yards just to keep the Saints in the game. In other words, Gostkowski and Haushcka better make those 45-yard FGs ... or else.
THE FORECAST - The Patriots (seemingly) have put all this Deflate-Gate nonsense behind 'em and, save for Brady's runny nose, they are as healthy as they've been in a while and showing lots of confidence these days. But, hey, they were confident in their last two Super Bowl tries and managed to score only 31 total points against the Giants in SB 42 and SB 46. Gotta believe that the Pats need some early big plays here while Seattle remains with a major chip on the shoulder pads for a team defending its Super Bowl crown. The more physical this game gets, the better it is for the Seahawks and so let's see how referee Bill Vinovich and crew handle this one. No doubt all the pre-Super Bowl badf blood could mean personal foul calls all over the yard!
Jim Hurley has the Sides & Totals Winners of Super Bowl XLIX (and top props) plus go ahead and continue to pile up the profits all this week/weekend with loads of NBA and NCAA Basketball winners right here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - go ahead and score big today!
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
|#1||MIAMI||- 3.5||New England||33-20|
|#2||New England||- 3||MINNESOTA||30-7|
|#3||NEW ENGLAND||- 13.5||Oakland||16-9|
|#4||KANSAS CITY||- 3||New England||41-14|
|#5||NEW ENGLAND||+ 2.5||Cincinnati||43-17|
|#6||New England||+ 1||BUFFALO||37-22|
|#7||NEW ENGLAND||- 9.5||Ny Jets||27-25|
|#8||NEW ENGLAND||- 5.5||Chicago||51-23|
|#9||NEW ENGLAND||+ 3||Denver||42-20|
|#11||New England||+ 3||INDIANAPOLIS||42-20|
|#12||NEW ENGLAND||- 7||Detroit||34-9|
|#13||GREEN BAY||- 3||New England||26-21|
|#14||New England||- 4||SAN DIEGO||23-14|
|#15||NEW ENGLAND||- 9||Miami||41-13|
|#16||New England||- 9.5||NY JETS||17-16|
|#17||Buffalo||+ 4||NEW ENGLAND||17-9|
|Div||NEW ENGLAND||- 7||Baltimore||35-31|
|AFC||NEW ENGLAND||- 7||Indianapolis||45-7|
Div = AFC Divisional Playoff Game
AFC = AFC Championship Game
(Note all home teams are in CAPS)
Pointspread Notes - New England is 10-8 ATS (against the spread) overall this year and that includes a spread split in the aforementioned playoff wins against Baltimore and Indianapolis. The Pats are 4-4 against the odds away from their Foxborough digs and they're 6-7 ATS as betting favorites and 4-1 ATS as underdog sides and they did not play a pick 'em game this year. Overall, New England's 7-12 spreadwise in all post-season games the past 10 years and that includes an 0-3 ATS log in Super Bowl games.
Div = NFC Divisional Playoff Game
NFC = NFC Championship Game
(Note all home teams are in CAPS)
Pointspread Notes - Seattle is 11-7 against the Las Vegas prices this year and that includes a split in the post-season SU wins against Carolina and Green Bay. Note that the Seahawks are also 4-4 spreadwise away from CenturyLink Field and they're 10-7 ATS as betting favorites and 1-0 ATS as an underdog and Seattle also did not play in a pick 'em game all year long. Overall, Seattle is 10-6 spreadwise in all post-season games the past 10 years and that includes a 1-1 ATS log in Super Bowl games. In fact, here's a look at the last 10 Super Bowl games played:
Note that six of the seven Super Bowl underdogs have covered the pointspreads with dogs a snazzy 7-3 ATS in these last 10 SB games. Meanwhile, NFC teams are also 7-3 against the odds in the last 10 Super Bowls including four outright upsets.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Our coverage of Super Bowl XLIX doesn't end here ... we'll have some fun with the always popular "Prop Plays" for the big game plus lots more in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez.