Why Lynch and ‘Legion’ will lead Seahawks to win

Frank Scicchitano

The two weeks of preparation leading up to Super Bowl XLIX have been drastically different for the Seahawks and Patriots.

For Seattle, Head Coach Pete Carroll has had his team going through a routine that is similar to that which they went through before playing the Broncos in last season’s Super Bowl.

On the other hand, New England Head Coach Bill Belichick is no stranger to getting a team ready for a Super Bowl, but he has had some unique distractions to deal with since winning the AFC Championship on Jan. 18.  

The Patriots insist that they have remained focused during the NFL’s investigation into the team’s alleged deflating of game balls during the conference championship game.  However, there is no doubt that, guilty or not, these accusations have had some negative effect on New England’s ability to prepare for the big game.

Last season, I went with the Seahawks to take down the mighty Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl and the upset pick paid off.  As difficult as it was to go against Peyton Manning and his record-setting offense, it is even tougher to bet against three-time Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady.

It is no secret that the Seahawks’ offense can be quiet at times, but Russell Wilson has proven to be one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL and can make the right decision in the most pressure-packed situations.  

He leads an offense that was ranked 10th in scoring during the regular season, averaging 24.3 points per game.  The Patriots defense presents more of a challenge to Wilson and his unit than the Broncos’ defense they faced last season, especially with a shutdown secondary that features All-Pro cornerback Darrell Revis.

With Brandon Browner complimenting Revis at the other corner position, and hard-hitting safety Devin McCourty playing over the top, the key on the offensive side of the ball for Seattle will be running back Marshawn Lynch.

The Patriots allowed 104.3 yards per game against the run during the regular season in a division that did not necessarily boast any impressive running attacks.  Lynch was fourth in the NFL with 1,306 total rushing yards, highlighting Seattle’s league-leading ground game that averaged 172.6 yards per contest. 

Sunday could be the final time Lynch, rumored to be leaving Seattle this offseason, plays in a Seahawks uniform.  If “Beast Mode” gets going early, the offense will gain a major boost from his running and open up more areas for Wilson to attack the Patriots’ defense through the air.

Normally, the glamour lies with a team’s offensive unit while defenses can sometimes be underappreciated.  That is not the case in Seattle. The Seahawks have become known for their ability to shut down every element of their opponents’ offense.  After surrendering the fewest points and yards per game in the NFL for the second consecutive regular season, they appear ready to take on the challenge of stopping Brady and the Patriots.

It won’t be easy, but Seattle returns all four members of its secondary, known as the “Legion of Boom.” Health concerns have surrounded two key members of that unit, cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Earl Thomas, but both players insist they will not be hampered by their respective injuries on Sunday.

Seattle’s pass rush is also a major reason they are so effective against opposing passing attacks.  Four Seahawks registered five or more sacks in the regular season and have had no problem making quarterbacks uncomfortable in the pocket.

Defensive ends Bruce Irvin and Michael Bennett are expected to be in Brady’s face for the entire game on Sunday, and could force him to make a few critical mistakes.  Their ability to get past the Patriots’ offensive line will be crucial to the secondary’s success and the overall defensive effort.

Just like last season, my prediction of Seattle’s triumph begins with Lynch carrying the football and ends with the defense shutting down one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.

The Seahawks are playing with motivation of becoming the first team to repeat as Super Bowl Champions since the Patriots did it over ten years ago.  New England, conversely, will still have distraction swirling around their performance as they attempt to play past the aptly named “Deflate-gate” scandal.

There is another Lombardi Trophy looming for Carroll, Wilson and company.


Score Prediction: 

Seahawks 27, Patriots 22