By Charles Jay
When you leave all the stuff about deflating footballs and using so-called “illegal” formations aside, what it comes down to as far as the New England Patriots’ chances to win the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks, is what they can fundamentally do on the football field. To execute those fundamentals, the Patriots have to continue the offensive efficiency they have shown throughout the regular season, while at the same time elevating their defense to another level. Can they do any of that?
This game has been marred with a lot of publicity that has concentrated on an issue that probably doesn’t have very much to do with the ball game itself. Sharp handicappers have left most of that on the shelf, however, and they know that when New England takes the field against Seattle, they have the ability to keep the defending world champions off-balance.
In the Super Bowl betting odds that have been established on this game by the people at America’s Bookie, it is all even:
New England Patriots pick
Over 47.5 points -110
Under 47.5 points -110
Some people may be surprised to find out that on a per-game basis, Seattle has actually gained more yardage on offense. But New England was first in the entire NFL with regard to yardage gained per point, at 12.2. So there is no question that they make their drives count. It is not likely that they are going to cough the ball up gratuitously; the Patriots had a +15 turnover margin this season, including their post-season victories over Baltimore and Indianapolis. And when examining the way those victories came about, we can probably construct a pretty good case for New England to come away with the Lombardi Trophy.
Before we do that, let’s stipulate for America’s Bookie customers that New England is a team of poise, resilience and experience. Everyone left him for dead after they went down to the Kansas City Chiefs 41-14 in the season’s fourth week, but they only lost one meaningful game the rest of the season, and that was at Lambeau Field, where the Packers were almost flawless. And they came back from two touchdowns behind, not once, but TWICE, against the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round.
What we have here is a team that can beat you with a lot of weapons, and they all know their role perfectly. The Patriots have succeeded using various running backs, and the latest guy they have, who is fresh at this time of the season, is LeGarrette Blount, who rumbled for 148 yards against Indianapolis. They may be a better running team than Seattle is used to seeing, and let’s not forget that the Seahawks gave up 267 rushing yards over their two playoff games.
Rob Gronkowski is quite simply the best tight end in the game, and he will change the way the Seahawks do their coverages. And this offensive line did a tremendous job over the second half of the season. Tom Brady, sacked only 21 times, gets rid of the football as quickly as a quarterback in the game, and that is going to have the potential to mitigate any effects of the Seattle pass rush.
America’s Bookie patrons are well aware that New England has a lot of things on its side. They are resourceful, and any NFL bettor familiar with coach Bill Belichick can see that. The formations he used in a game against Baltimore kept the Ravens’ defense off-balance, and we don’t have to tell you how many tricks he may have up his sleeve. As mentioned before, this is a team that has shown some determination and resilience. They are also versatile, in the respect that they can win emphasizing either the run or the pass. Remember that in the second half against the Ravens, they did not hand the ball off to a running back once, and gained 14 yards on the ground overall. Meanwhile, the next week against the Colts, they destroyed that team with the running game. You simply can’t afford to “overplay” them.
Maybe the “Deflategate” scandal turns out to be a positive for them, as it takes away some attention from other things the media might otherwise focus on. This is a team that is used to playing in the post-season, even though they have fallen short eight straight times. But you always have to keep in mind that Brady and Belichick have won three Super Bowl championships together. And along the way this year, they have done a pretty good job against quarterbacks, intercepting Joe Flacco twice and stopping Andrew Luck cold (12 out of 33 for only 126 yards). So their defense will be a factor as well. Seattle might have its “shutdown” cornerback in Richard Sherman, but New England counters with Darrelle Revis, who could take Seattle’s best wide receiver away on any given down.
New England is frequently in the red zone; as a matter of fact, they have been there an average of 4.3 times per game, which is best in the NFL. Meanwhile, Seattle has allowed its opponents to score touchdowns on 57% of their red zone appearances. What happens inside the 20-yard line could be a critical factor in who wins this game. And as we have laid out for the America’s Bookie crowd, the Patriots have a pretty good argument to make for themselves.
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