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Saturday, 31 January 2015

Super Bowl XLIX Pick- Seattle Seahawks v New England Patriots (Sunday 1st February 2015)

The time for talking is over as we get set to say goodbye to the 2014 NFL season- the 49th edition of the Super Bowl comes from Arizona as the New England Patriots get set to take on the Seattle Seahawks.

I have taken a few days to really get to grips with my pick and seem to be going with the popular choice from the NFL players and journalists that have made their decision on which team they believe will win the Championship. It is a season when the spread doesn't really matter as the teams can't be separated by the layers so it simply comes down to a choice of which of these teams you believe will win.

I am looking to extend my run to 4 straight Super Bowl winners this season and I have my pick below.

Seattle Seahawks v New England PatriotsFor the second season in succession, the Number 1 Seed from the AFC plays the Number 1 Seed from the NFC in the Super Bowl. This year it is the Seattle Seahawks (14-4) taking on the New England Patriots (14-4) in Super Bowl XLIX which will come from the home of the Arizona Cardinals.

Both teams made it to the Super Bowl in contrasting fashion, although the Patriots win has been tainted a little from 'Deflate-Gate' which has dominated the media over the last two weeks. New England crushed the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Conference Championship, but it was later revealed that the balls had not been inflated to the League's minimum requirement, an issue which makes it 'easier' to throw and catch in the rainy conditions we saw at Foxboro two weeks ago.

Most of the Colts team have made it clear that they don't believe there was any reason to think the game would have ended much differently, but the Patriots have previous which has made this a story. It was only a few seasons ago that Bill Belichick was fined half a million dollars and the Patriots lost Draft picks following 'Spy-Gate' when caught filming the signals of their opposition and this is another issue where many are saying the New England successes have not been clean.

The blame on this occasion shifted from Belichick and the spotlight was on Tom Brady, but the NFL have tried to put the issue to bed by saying they will deal with the outcome of their investigation following the Super Bowl. The Patriots may try and use the whole furore to rally the troops together, but they are facing the defending Champions who look to become the first team in ten years to repeat.

The Seattle Seahawks somehow got through the NFC Conference Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers and I am still not sure how they won that game. The Seahawks were down by 12 points with less than five minutes remaining, but it seems the footballing gods were on their side as they converted a number of unbelievable plays to knock off the Packers.

A Touchdown brought Seattle to 5 points behind Green Bay, but they then converted an onside kick, scored another Touchdown before converting a 'Hail Mary' two point play and then scored a winning Touchdown in Overtime. It was one of the most surreal endings to any NFL game that I have seen, let alone one with so much on the line and the Packers must still be wondering how they have lost on 2 of their last 3 visits to the tough Seattle environment.

The big question out of that game against Green Bay was the health of Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, but both are going to be available this Sunday. Sherman is expected to be a father at some point over the next seven days, but it would be extremely bad timing for him to miss this game.

Sherman has been making himself available to the media all through the week, but one of the more ridiculous stories has been concerning Marshawn Lynch. That isn't me criticising the Running Back either because I think it is a farce to ask Lynch to have to talk to the media when he is clearly not comfortable doing so. We have then been treated to Lynch saying the same thing over and over again for five minutes and writers going home to make headlines about the whole thing... As I said, ridiculous!

The Seattle Seahawks had to come from 13 points behind to beat the New England Patriots when they last met in 2012. That game was played in Seattle and is now known as the 'you mad bro?' Game following a tweet that Richard Sherman sent out after the game.

PICKI have been going back and forth about this game ever since it was set two weeks ago, but I think I have perhaps been over thinking things. Both the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks match up well against one another, but I was convinced the NFC is the better Conference and I think Seattle prove that by winning back to back Championships.

I will be absolutely honest with you- I don't like either of these teams. Being a Miami Dolphin fan means the New England Patriots will always be a big rival, but they have also been very successful and that does breed a little more dislike. The Seahawks have never really been a team I was overly concerned about, but I can't be the only person who hates seeing any team with their 'bandwagon support' and my dislike comes from the amount of two year fans the Seahawks have picked up.

That does help me clear my head for this game though and look at it from a very cold perspective, which is always the best way when it comes to making picks. I try and put my heart aside when it comes to making picks, but I will admit it couldn't be any easier in this game!

It does seem like the sharps are all over the under at the moment with that total shrinking over the last two weeks and that is understandable. Despite the 40 plus points that New England scored against Indianapolis, the Patriots are not the quick strike Offense that went unbeaten in the regular season in 2007 and instead take a much more methodical approach to their games.

Seattle are the same, although Russell Wilson can air it out at times, and both Defenses are very strong so this game may be 'shortened' with the clock running through plays on the ground and quick passes being completed.

Tom Brady will have success against the Legion of Boom simply because he is unlikely to be testing them deep down the field and instead will look to his possession Receivers like Julian Edelman, Shane Vereen and Rob Gronkowski to take his short passes and produce yards after the catch. LeGarrette Blount is a punishing Running Back, but it won't be easy for him to produce a big game against this Seattle Defense, while the Seahawks will feel they can rattle Brady with their four man pass rush.

I expect the New England Patriots will use the blueprint set out by the San Diego Chargers in a win over Seattle earlier this season, although the Seahawks are playing better now. Philip Rivers used quick plays to prolong drives in a methodical manner which kept the Seattle Defense out of sync and I imagine New England will try and do the same.

If Blount can get something going on the ground, the Patriots will definitely have a chance to win this game, but the feeling is that the Seattle Defense can keep Brady in third and long on enough occasions to force punts or mistakes.

While the Seattle Secondary will receive all the attention thanks to a nice moniker, the New England Secondary is also one of the best in the NFL. Darrelle Revis is very comfortable in the system ran by Bill Belichick and he will take away one Receiver, although Seattle don't have one big threat in those positions. Brandon Browner will want to give away some of the secrets of the Seattle Defense to his team, but the Corner Back can sometimes be a penalty machine in the Secondary and Russell Wilson will know that.

On the other hand, Seattle may not need to make big plays against the Secondary with Marshawn Lynch likely to have a good match up against the Patriots run Defense. New England have actually been an improving unit on the ground, but they haven't faced someone like Lynch who is capable of breaking tackles and creating big gains when there seemingly aren't any.

Lynch might not have the success early in the game, but his style wears down Defenses and the second half might when he explodes for some big gains. The threat is magnified by the fact that Russell Wilson is capable of getting out of the pocket and making gains on the ground and I think it will be tough for the Patriots unless they jump out to a very big lead.

Wilson helped Green Bay do that with his Interceptions thrown, but it is hard to imagine Seattle making those mistakes again and that should keep the running game very much a part of their plans. I also think the Seattle Defense is going to make enough big plays to keep New England from getting too far ahead and my lean is towards Seattle in this game.

Teams playing in back to back Super Bowls haven't played that well in recent seasons, although the last two have managed to win the game. Prior to that, 5 in a row had lost when returning to the Super Bowl, although the Buffalo Bills have accounted for 2 of those back when they reached the Super Bowl in four straight seasons.

There are other trends that really do favour Seattle in this game including the fact that New England have lost the last 2 Super Bowls they have played, both against the New York Giants and one of those in this Stadium. The Patriots also have to overcome the statistic that shows teams scoring 40 or more points in the Play Offs are just 3-22 against the spread in their next game.

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks have also raised their game when they meet teams led by Super Bowl winning Quarter Backs and everything is pointing to them being the right side. I do have respect for Bill Belichick and the Defensive game plan he will have put in place with two weeks preparation for this game, but the NFC is the better Conference and I always felt they are the more likely winner of the Super Bowl this season regardless of which team came through.

The NFC are 4-1 in the Super Bowl over the last five seasons and the only exception was the San Francisco 49ers who had shots at the end zone to beat the Baltimore Ravens two years ago. The spread is virtually a pick 'em now so I will just back the Seattle Seahawks to win.

MY PICK: Seattle Seahawks @ 1.95 Bet Victor (3 Units)

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