How do I pick a Super Bowl winner between the quarterback I always support against the coach I always support? How can I pick a winner between two teams I respect because of either their ultra-fierce competitive quarterback or ultra-fierce competitive team?
That’s the problem with picking between the Patriots and Seahawks. Not only are both teams extremely good and the two best teams in the league, but they’re very similar in aspects that I admire about people and about teams.
Let’s start with the Seahawks, who are coached by Pete Carroll. Carroll was flashy and flamboyant at USC, but he was also wildly successful. Coming to the NFL, Carroll’s ways weren’t supposed to work. Telling grown men to come in and compete every single day for their job? Not handing out playing time based on contracts? Rah-rah attitude? In the NFL? Carroll never had a chance.
And then he got his team to believe in themselves and win a playoff game at 7-9 against the heavily-favored New Orleans Saints. Then he handed the starting quarterback job to a third-round quarterback who was drafted as a reach, was too short to see over the offensive line and wasn’t see as a quarterback capable of playing in the NFL. Russell Wilson overtook the highly-paid Matt Flynn at quarterback and the rest is history. Or still being written. Or however that works.
Carroll then turned his two defensive coordinators into head coaches (Dan Quinn going to Atlanta, Gus Bradley in Jacksonville) by using that competitive energy and building an us-against-the-world mentality. Carroll’s personality and edge is shown in the defense, and Carroll letting his defense have a personality of its own has given the Legion of Boom an edge that teams struggle to overcome.
Then, there’s Tom Brady.
The sixth-round pick turned All-Pro quarterback plays every game with that chip on his shoulder. Many athletes look for that extra motivation, and it’s no secret where Brady gets his. It doesn’t matter if he’s throwing to Randy Moss or Brandon LaFell, Brady always finds a way. He’s the anti-Jay Cutler in that he wears his emotion on his sleeve. He can be a leader and a motivator, but sometimes that is to a fault. He fails to hide frustration just as much as he hides his positive emotion yelling into the face of whichever receiver or offensive lineman just caught a touchdown pass.
I’ve made no secret of being Team Pete Carroll or Team Tom Brady. But today, sports won’t let me choose both.
Can the Patriots protect Tom Brady? The New York Giants drew up the blueprint to beat Brady and the Patriots, as they flooded the middle and put pressure in Tom Brady’s face (a blueprint that can beat most teams). If there’s a team that can do that it’s Seattle, right?
Well, it would seem that way. Until you remember that Seattle struggled to pressure One Legged Aaron Rodgers two weeks ago.
What about the Patriots? They’ve got the offense to break the Seattle defense. That is, until you remember that Seattle has the bodies to contain Rob Gronkowski–and the Patriots offense is a mess without Gronkowski–and the Pats’ leading rusher Jonas Gray accumulated almost half of his yards in one game and will be inactive for the Super Bowl.
There’s the repeat thing that is so hard to do for Seattle. There’s the legacy thing that puts extra pressure on the Patriots. I don’t buy either one.
Is it hard to repeat as Super Bowl champion? Of course. But the hardest part is making it through a 17-week season without settling, without getting comfortable. Now, at the Super Bowl, it’s not like the Seahawks are about to fall asleep.
The legacy thing is true for the Patriots; a win solidifies a greater argument for both Tom Brady and Bill Belichick for whatever argument is being made. But they’re playing for one Super Bowl tonight, not four. There is enough pressure on winning just one game; the pressure of four won’t get to either one.
So who do I think will win the Super Bowl? Do I side with Team Carroll or Team Brady?
To me, the Patriots defense compared to the Seattle offense is stronger than the Seattle defense compared to the Patriots offense. For the 582nd time, I’ll mention that I’m not taking the Russell Wilson communion and praying to him at night. The Patriots have more of that Super Bowl look that we saw 10 years ago because the defense isn’t held together by paperclips–it’s held together by Darrelle Revis and Vince Wilfork.
The Seattle defense is great, but Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas are all banged up. This isn’t the game to be a step slow or a few inches behind.
Can the Seattle receivers get loose against the Seahawks secondary? Russell Wilson make enough plays to keep the defense honest and keep them from loading up against Marshawn Lynch?
I don’t think so. Brady wins No. 4, but it will be because of the Patriots defense–and the Seattle offense.
New England 24, Seattle 16