Super Bowl XLIX Preview

Staff Writers Eric Ting and Jack Parodi preview this season's Super Bowl

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Eric Ting and Jack Parodi, Staff Writers

Do you think the Patriots were in fact guilty of deflating footballs?

 

Ting: Absolutely. I would like to give Bill Belichick and co the benefit of the doubt, but I do not need to remind people of Spygate. Belichick’s explanation was more comic relief than anything, and Bill Nye the Science Guy has since debunked Belichick’s claims. The NFL should punish New England heavily, hopefully somewhere along the lines of what happened to the 2012 New Orleans Saints after BountyGate. This is the second strike for Bill Belichick, and if another issue arises he should receive an indefinite ban from the league.

Jack: Without a question yes. Although I do have the utmost respect for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, finding out that eleven out of the twelve balls used in the AFC Championship Game were not inflated enough isn’t just a coincidence. I think New England should be punished, but not severely. Not inflating footballs enough just isn’t as big of a deal as everyone is making it out to be. The Colts got obliterated because they simply don’t have as much talent as the Patriots. Plain and simple. Belichick and Brady should be fined of some sort, but no suspensions should be put into action. Its just a little air in a football.

What do you make of the Patriots’ struggles in their last two Super Bowls?

 

Ting: Have they struggled? Yes, their 4th Quarter defense was pathetic, but those New York Giants teams averaged just 19 points in those two games. Tom Brady posted passer ratings of 91.1 and 82.5, which although unspectacular, he by no means “struggled”. The number that does pop out to me is that Brady was sacked a combined seven times in those two games, and the Giants played tough in the secondary and took away Brady’s weapons. The Seahawks followed the Giants’ blueprint to building a successful defense, as they have loaded up on pass rushers and preach physicality in the secondary.

Jack: I wouldn’t say the Patriots struggled as a team. Tom Brady played fairly well in both games, but it’s their defense that has stopped them from finishing off a perfect postseason. The New England defense has improved in the last two years. They have three of the best secondary players in the league in Darrelle Revis, Devin McCourty, and ex-Seahawk Brandon Browner. They also boast a very good tandem of pass rushers in Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich. The cause of those “struggles” that the Patriots had in their last two Super Bowls have been fixed by the front office. Watch out.

Who is the better corner? Richard Sherman or Darrelle Revis?

 

Ting: It’s unclear, mainly because the Seahawks’ scheme limits what Richard Sherman can do. Sherman is locked in at left cornerback and stays there the entire game, where Revis moves around to take away the opposing team’s best receiver. Sherman’s opposing passer rating is much better than Revis’s, (38.7 to 70.5) but I would like to see Sherman move around the field and guard quicker slot receivers, a type of player he has struggled with. I’m not saying Sherman wouldn’t be able to follow a team’s best receiver around the field, but he needs that type of exposure for me to consider him the best corner in football.

Jack: Darrelle Revis. I know Richard Sherman gets a ton of hype about him being “the best corner in the league” and he deserves respect, but when you guard multiple receivers on one side of the field, it’s a much easier task than guarding the single best receiver on a given team. Speedy, quick receivers have been Sherman’s foe this season. Even though that is a so-called “weakness”, it’s not like any receivers have really torn him up this year (with the exception of Odell Beckham Jr. and Keenan Allen). When I think of Darrelle Revis, I don’t know if there is any real weakness of his game. He mans up the best receiver on each team the Patriots play and shuts that receiver down, whoever it may be, every single week. Because Revis stays on the best receiver on the field for an entire game and has no real weaknesses at all, he is the single best cover cornerback in the league.

Did Green Bay expose Russell Wilson?

 

Ting: I would say so, as many teams have talked about holding Wilson in the pocket and playing tight press coverage on Seattle’s receivers. Green Bay was the first team that was actually able to do so, (until the last three minutes that is), with their large group of pass rushers and athletic linebackers. On his bad days, Wilson has been bailed out by Marshawn Lynch and the Hawks’ rushing attack. If the Patriots can take that away (which is a big if) and employ coverage schemes and pass rush discipline similar to Green Bay, there is no reason they can’t keep Seattle under 10 points.

Jack: I wouldn’t say Green Bay exposed Russell Wilson, they more just played a solid game defensively. Russell Wilson is an elite quarterback in the NFL and deserves that respect. He is one of the best decision makers, never forces anything, and knows how to control the game. But the Packers did show some signs of how to stop the Seahawks offense by getting constant pressure and containing Wilson from scrambling out of the pocket. If you do these two things, then you can shut down the Seattle offense.

Will LeGarrette Blount continue his success?

 

Ting: I see no reason he can’t. Seattle let both Green Bay and Carolina rush for over 130 yards against them, as the punishing styles of Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Stewart proved effective against a smaller Seattle front seven. Teams can run on Seattle this season as opposed to last season mainly because of major losses in the offseason and injuries to the defensive line. Blount epitomizes the aforementioned “punishing style” and with help from his big maulers in Sebastian Vollmer, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly, Brian Stork and Nate Solder, who form one of the best run blocking offensive lines in the league, will have another 100 yard plus game.

Jack: Most definitely he can. Seattle’s run defense isn’t what it was last season. The last couple of playoff games for Seattle have been against physical running backs in Jonathan Stewart and Eddie Lacy and that physical style of play has done very well against the Seahawks. Yes, Lacy and Stewart are great physical specimens at the running back position, but they’re no LeGarrette Blount. Blount is quite possibly the hardest runner in the NFL and is one of the hardest people to tackle. Running behind a huge New England offensive line, Blount should be able to run down the throat of the Seattle defense all game long.

 

Which individual battle are you most looking forward to?

 

Ting: Rob Gronkowski vs. Kam Chancellor. Gronk’s resurgence this season has many asking if anyone in the NFL can guard him. Linebackers are too slow, safeties are too small, he just runs through a double team, etc. Zone coverage doesn’t work against him because he’s smart enough to find the soft spots, and it still requires a smaller defensive back to make a play on the ball. Enter Kam Chancellor, the best strong safety in the NFL. At 6 foot 3 232 pounds, Chancellor offers the size and speed to compete with Gronk. Chancellor may be the one player in the NFL that can guard Gronk, and if he can’t do it I don’t think anybody can.

Jack: Tom Brady vs. the Legion of Boom. Because the Seattle defense blitzes a majority of their plays, I think the experience and smarts of Tom Brady will help him exploit the Legion of Boom. You can’t count out Brady when you talk about the best quarterbacks of all time, and I expect nothing less than a spectacular performance from him. I wouldn’t be surprised at all though, if Seattle finds a way to stop Brady. With the best safety duo in the league combined with arguably the best cornerback, Richard Sherman, they can stop virtually anybody. I’m really intrigued to see who comes out on top in Super Bowl XLIX.

What is Seattle’s most glaring weakness?

 

Ting: The receiving core. Baldwin and Kearse are second or third options at best, and Luke Willson has been up and down at tight end. New England has the talent and depth in the secondary to completely phase Seattle’s receivers out the game. Seattle will need a heavy dose of Marshawn Lynch to hide their deficiencies in the passing game.

Jack: Their offensive line. Justin Britt might possibly be one of the worst starting offensive lineman in the NFL. Anchoring the right side of the line, Britt provides horrendous pass protection and just mediocre run blocking. I fully expect Rob Ninkovich to make his presence felt in a big way by exploiting Britt’s terrible offensive line play. J.R. Sweezy is also a very bad offensive lineman who doesn’t deserve to start in the NFL, but somehow he does on the Seahawks. Vince Wilfork should be able to take advantage of Sweezy and have a fairly big game.

What is New England’s most glaring weakness?

 

Ting: The middle of their defense. Ever since Jerod Mayo went down for the season with a knee injury, a gaping hole has been left in the middle of Matt Patricia’s defense. His replacement Malcolm Butler has been mediocre at best. Thankfully, his struggles have been hidden by the strong play from outside linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower. Vince Wilfork is solid, but they other tackle Chris Jones has been lackluster defending the run, a big problem against the league’s number one ranking rushing attack. Sealver Siliga is a solid rotational defensive lineman, but isn’t disruptive enough to make a giant impact. Matt Patricia needs to use a wide variety of stunts and blitzes up the middle to hold things together.

Jack: Without a doubt their receiving corps (not including Rob Gronkowski; he’s a tight end). They have no real studs. Yes, Julian Edelman has put up a very good year alongside Brandon Lafell, but they could easily get shut down by the Legion of Boom. I don’t think Edelman will because Seattle’s secondary has trouble guarding quick, speedy slot receivers. One man can’t do it all, though. You need help from the rest of your wide receivers, and I really question whether the Patriots can do that. Obviously, never doubt Tom Brady, but it’s awfully hard to put together a good game as a quarterback if your receivers can’t get open.

Who wins Super Bowl XLIX?

 

Ting: The Patriots. They have what it takes to establish the running game, which will make Tom Brady’s life incredibly easier throwing the football. The Patriots’ defense will do just enough on Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch to prevent them from controlling the tempo of the game. Time of possession will be especially important in this game, and New England has what it takes to extend drives, but need to contain Lynch to ensure victory.

Jack: Tom Brady will hoist the Lombardi Trophy for the fourth time in his illustrious career. Having a couple weeks to prepare for the Super Bowl will benefit Brady as he will be able to pick apart the Seahawks defense. New England’s defense will be able to make enough stops to hold off the Seattle offense and become the champions of the Super Bowl.

Who wins Super Bowl MVP?

 

Ting: Tom Brady. Don’t expect a 300 yard plus game, but expect an efficient day with something in the 200 yard range, two touchdowns and a completion percentage somewhere in the 70s.

 

Jack: LeGarrette Blount. He’ll be able to run all over the Seattle defense behind a solid run blocking offensive line. I’m predicting that Blount rushes for over 150 yards and 3 TD’s.

What will be the biggest offseason storyline?

 

Ting: Marcus Mariota vs Jameis Winston. Which quarterback has more talent? Which quarterback is more pro-ready? Is that quarterback even good enough to be taken with the number one overall pick? The scouting process will provide many twists and turns regarding the two best passers in this year’s draft.

Jack: The free agency moves and seeing who re-signs and who signs with another team. The notable free agents this offseason include Dez Bryant, Demarco Murray, Demaryius Thomas, Randall Cobb, Jeremy Maclin, Frank Gore, Jordan Cameron, Mike Iupati, Bryan Bulaga, Justin Houston, Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh, Brandon Flowers, and Devin McCourty. Some are sure to re-sign (Demarco Murray, Mike Iupati, Devin McCourty) and some are sure to test out the free agency market (Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Ndamukong Suh). It is sure to be an exciting offseason to see where all these star players end up playing for the 2015-2016 NFL season.