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The Blue & Gray Press | November 18, 2017

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Super Bowl preview: everything you need to know

Super Bowl preview: everything you need to know

By SEAN KINSLOW

The most anticipated sporting event of each calendar year, the NFL’s Super Bowl, is right around the corner. Players are gathering their thoughts and emotions while fans are busy gathering snacks and wagers. Through the smoke and mirrors that shroud the Super Bowl in the weeks prior there is still a game that needs to be played between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots and a champion that needs to be crowned at the end of the day.

The game will be the 49th Super Bowl and will be played on Sunday, Feb. 1st in Glendale, Arizona at the University of Phoenix Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. EST.

The New England Patriots will represent the American Football Conference in this year’s championship game. The Patriots finished the regular season 12-4 and were the best team in the AFC coming into the playoffs. That momentum continued in the playoffs as the Patriots defeated both the Baltimore Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts to reach the Super Bowl.

Their win over the Colts, however, came with some controversy. The New England Patriots have been accused of slightly deflating the set of footballs their offense used during the game in order to gain an advantage in the cold wet conditions. The controversy, which has been more commonly referred to as “Deflategate” by most media outlets, has taken center stage of Super Bowl coverage. Footballs with less air in them are preferred by some quarterbacks and wide receivers because they are easier to throw and catch. Regardless of this controversy, the New England Patriots are moving onto their eighth Super Bowl appearance looking to win their fourth overall.

The Seattle Seahawks will again represent the National Football Conference in this year’s championship game. The Seahawks are the NFL’s reigning Super Bowl champions and will look to defend their title against a strong New England team. The Seahawks, like the Patriots, finished the regular season 12-4 and earned the top seed in their conference’s playoff bracket. The Seahawks defeated the Carolina Panthers and the Green Bay Packers earlier in the playoffs to reach the Super Bowl. If Seattle wins, they will be the first back-to-back Super Bowl champions since the New England Patriots did it in 2004 and 2005.

Both teams struggled early in the season but turned it around quickly and have been almost unstoppable ever since. The Patriots are led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, genius Head Coach Bill Belichick and All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski. The Seahawks are led by third year quarterback Russell Wilson, the best defense in the league and the “it” factor – everything seems to go right for Seattle, a result for being well coached, highly prepared and an attention to detail rivaled by no one in the league.

 

Key Match-ups:

 

New England’s Quarterback Tom Brady vs. Seattle’s Secondary

Seattle’s Secondary, or the Legion of Boom as they are known, is a force to be reckoned with. Members include cornerback Richard Sherman, who is revered by some to be the league’s best cornerback; Kam Chancellor, the league’s biggest safety with a reputation of being a hard hitting tackler; Earl Thomas, who is a smart coverage safety with great range; and Byron Maxwell, known to be a solid number two cornerback.

The Legion of Boom plays aggressive and smart. They cause many turnovers and are a key to Seattle’s success. Tom Brady is a three-time winning Super Bowl quarterback. He is smart with the football and can still make all the throws at the age of 37. Brady won’t fear the Seahawks’ defense. If he can get the ball into the hand of his playmakers, he should be able to have success.

Advantage: Seattle

 

Patriots’ Running Back LeGarrette Blount vs. Seahawks’ Run-defense

LeGarrette Blount is a big, mean, tough running back. The Patriots need to keep this game short and physical in order to win. If Blount can continue to run the ball well against a strong Seattle front seven, punish would be tacklers and provide decent pass protection when called upon to do so the Patriots will be in good shape.

Advantage: New England

 

Seattle’s Special Teams vs. New England’s Special Teams

Special teams are an often forgotten part of football from a fan’s perspective. Special teams included Field Goals, Kickoffs, Punts, Kick Returns and Punt Returns, amongst others. Both of these teams are well coached and talented on special teams, but it is easy to make mistakes on special teams. The team that plays better in this aspect of the game has an inside track on winning. One big special teams play, good or bad, often has a big role in deciding the winner of a game. That being said, Seattle seems to have the slight edge in this area of the game; they had one of the best special team units of any team in the NFL this year.

Advantage: Seattle