By Alec Codman – Collegiate Staff
After a convincing 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts, the New England Patriots are headed to their sixth Super Bowl in the past 13 seasons. The Patriots have a lot going for them in this game. After coming off a win that seemed effortless at some points, the confidence level in New England is very high.
This game is going to be different from the ones they played to get to this point. Going up against the “Legion of Boom” and the strong linemen on the Seattle Seahawks, Bill Belichick sure has his hands full.
The Patriots wouldn’t have made it this far without the “golden boy” himself, Tom Brady. While Brady is connecting with Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, and Julian Edelman at the efficiency that he has been there is no reason for the Patriots not to utilize their amazing passing game. With Seattle’s star cornerback, Richard Sherman, and safety Earl Thomas banged up, you have to imagine that the Patriots will test them to see how well they can cover their quick receivers and see if they can stop a bulldozer like Gronkowski running down field. Even if they were to stop Amendola and Edelman there are defensives few and far between that can disrupt the connection Brady and Gronkowski have.
When the Patriots have to grit their teeth and run the ball down the field they have a variety of options in front of them. They could go with the hot hand in LeGarrette Blount who had three touchdowns in the previous game. Jonas Gray should see some action too, considering it wasn’t too long ago he had an astounding four touchdowns in week 11 against the Colts. If those two falter they could also turn to their main workhorse of the season in Shane Vereen, who as of late has seen his role decline. The other main scorer on the Patriots, who is talked about less than most, is Stephen Gostkowski who has only missed 2 of 37 field goal attempts this season. As long as Brady can march his team into the field goal range the Patriots will have points on the board, courtesy of Gostkowski.
The Patriots’ defense has been playing lights out in the second half of the season, not including a close game with the Ravens in the Divisional round of the playoffs. Having Brandon Browner at cornerback, who was playing last year for Seattle in the Super Bowl and Darrelle Revis at the other cornerback position makes it hard for anyone to throw against. When you look at Russell Wilson who isn’t known for his outstanding throws, it is clear to see that where the Patriots have to excel in to win this game: Stopping Seattle’s strong run offense.
New England has three key weaknesses going into this game; the first is that for a lot of the game Gronkowski is going to be double-teamed leaving Brady to look to his wide receivers. All of them are competent players but none of whom Brady can trust more than his star tight end. The second problem with the Patriots is when Brady gets pressured he tends to be sporadic with his throws and loses control of the drive. The “Legion of Boom” will be waiting for those throws to be tipped, over thrown, under thrown, anything for them to get an interception.
The Patriots defense will have the task of stopping the number one ranked rushing offense in the league. Seattle is going to have Marshawn Lynch continue his large workload and try to wear down the Patriots defensive line. Russell Wilson is also a great presence in the Seahawks run game this season after rushing for over 800 yards.