5 Burning Questions: Super Bowl XLIX
The biggest sporting event in the history of the world is nearly here! Perhaps there was a bit of hyperbole in the previous sentence, but come on people. It’s the Super Bowl, and if you feel nothing when you read or hear those words you need to check your pulse. Let’s take a look and tackle the burning questions of the big game.
1. Will Deflategate actually have an impact on the game?
Have you heard about this? Apparently the Patriots have been accused of some kind of a cheating involving the inflation, or deflation, of their footballs? Just kidding, we’ve all heard about it. We’re all pretty done hearing about it. Regardless of which side of the guilty/innocent fence you sit a few facts are not deniable:
A. Tom Brady was a major force for getting a rule change in 2006 where visiting teams would now provide their own footballs.
B. The season before the rule change, Brady fumbled 11 times. A single season with 11 fumbles. Since the rule change, he has a combined 26 fumbles in 8 seasons.
C. Prior to 2007, the Patriots were in the middle of the pack when it came to fumbling. They would put the ball on the turf 1 in every 36 plays. Since the rule change they now average 1 fumble for every 76 plays, a much better rate than the rest of the league.
D. From 2008-2011 BenJarvus Green-Ellis didn’t commit a single fumble as a Patriot. He had 5 fumbles combined over the next 2 years as a Bengal.
E. Just exactly how inflicted is Stevan Ridley with fumbleitis?
These facts aren’t being stated to sway opinions (well maybe a little bit), but more so to show there is substance behind the allegations. The refs will be keeping a keen eye on the PSI while watching that Hoodie Guy (dropping knowledge and rhymes over here). Luckily for the Pats, weather will not be an issue for ball handling inside the spectacular University of Phoenix Stadium.
2. Who claims the QB glory?
There are some striking career similarities between Tom Brady and Russell Wilson. Both were not touted coming into the NFL and were drafted late, especially for franchise QB standards. Both won a Super Bowl in their second year. What is not similar is their ages and where they stand in the lifespan of their careers. Brady is in the final phase of his playing days. Wilson is just beginning his. Many believe that if Brady is to win this game, he will go down as the greatest QB in NFL history. If Wilson wins, it will be his second Super Bowl victory in his third year in the league, truly joining the elite and placing him on a path to achieve a personal goal of becoming the greatest QB in NFL history.
Some Super Bowls offer only a high stakes matchup between two of the best teams in the NFL. This year, we are treated to far more than that. We get a matchup of the best teams in the NFL, the No. 1 seeds from both the AFC and NFC. We also get a game carrying enormous weight when it comes to history and legacies. It will be immensely entertaining to watch this storyline unfold.
3. Who wins: Beast Mode or Blount Mode?
Fine fine, nobody actually calls LeGarrette Blount that, but the allure for the alliterated question was too strong. Both of these running backs have placed the entire offense on their shoulders and carried their teams to victory.
If the playoffs are where players become legends, LeGarrette Blount is writing his chapter in ink. When the bright lights were on in the AFC Title Game, Blount dropped a dominating 30/148/3.
Marshawn Lynch was not to be outdone. When Seattle felt the Super Bowl slipping from their grasp against Green Bay, they saddled up Beast Mode and let go of the reins. He rewarded them with 25/157/1.
Seattle has rightly maintained the reputation of being THE dominant defense against the run, finishing as the league’s best two consecutive years. New England has held their own this year, finishing in the top-10. It would seem that Seattle has this particular part of the matchup on lockdown, but the Pats rushing defense is not to be discounted. The Beast VS The Blount will play a large part into the emerging victor.
4. Will this be Pete Carroll’s revenge?
Seattle isn’t Pete Carroll’s first rodeo as an NFL coach. Before his multi-year success as head coach of the USC Trojans, Carroll was an NFL coach. And the team he coached for…(duh duuuuh DUUUUUHHH) the New England Patriots! Carroll was the BMOC in New England from ’97-’99. He was able to lead them into the playoffs a couple times before a late-season collapse got him canned in 1999. The man who replaced him? Bill Belichick. There isn’t much that can provide extra motivation for NFL personnel, they have million$ of reasons to perform. But I would find it impossible to believe that Carroll doesn’t have a deep desire to crush the one who scorned him, drop a 50 burger, and throw the largest Degeneration X Salute the world has ever seen. Will Pete’s Dragon allow his mind to become clouded with bloodlust or will it place him into a focus only matched by Neo fighting Mr. Smith inside of the Matrix?
5. Will the best CB in the NFL please stand up?
The talking heads have narrowed down the best shutdown CBs in the NFL to Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis. Remember when Patrick Peterson kept getting his name thrown in with these guys? Sherman is having a sensational postseason, coming through with a momentum-changing interception in both playoff games. Sherman has the better tangible stats, but Revis has transformed the Patriots’ leaky pass defense of year’s past. His ability to remove elite wide receivers from the game lets New England focus on other things, like trying to stop Marshawn Lynch. Revis has played so well, rumors are already circulating the Patriots would be willing to bring him back next year with his albatross $20 million contract. The Seahawks don’t have a transcendent pass catcher on the squad, making the job that much easier for Revis. Belichick will certainly come up with a defensive plan highlighting what Revis can do and attempting to squeeze Seattle into a limited offensive box. On the other side, Richard Sherman suffered an elbow injury in the NFC Championship Game. The severity is not known and has been reported as everything from damaged ligaments to a simple hyper extension. Will the injury hamper the superstar with the gift of gab? Will the Pats be able to stretch the field with their wide outs? Will the best cornerback in the league please stand up?
This is a deeply faceted matchup between two juggernauts. On paper, this should be a game for the ages, and at the very least better than last year’s debacle.