PFF Pick'em: Super Bowl XLIX
Nothing better than a split field for a big game and that’s what we’ve got for Super Bowl XLIX edition of the Pick’em with four of our analysts landing on the Patriots side and four looking for a Seahawk repeat. Our resident playoff pick-master, Sam and his 10-0 mark are among those seeing Seattle through, but no one in the building thinks it’s an easy call (except possibly Neil) and a close game is what most are pointing to.
Who’ve you got? Let us know in the comments below.
New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks
Ben – New England Patriots
I think this can be the Super Bowl that last year’s game was supposed to be and it would seem that I’ve not learned my lesson as I’m going against the Seahawks for the second year in a row. On offense I think the Patriots have a chameleon nature to them that enables them to exploit the right matchups each week in the same way that Bill Belichick can re-engineer their defense from week to week to shutdown opposing offenses. Finally this year Belichick has the tools on defense not to just keep pace with an opposing offense through scheme but to take over the game and shut them down. If the Patriots can (by scheme, play calling or performance) keep Michael Bennett quiet and prevent him from playing the Justin Tuck role, I think they’ll have just enough to edge this close battle.
Gordon – Seattle Seahawks
Like last year, when the Seahawks went up against a Peyton Manning-led offense I’m excited to see how the battle between the Seahawks’ defense and Patriots offense goes. Seemingly constantly evolving, the Patriots are always finding new ways to exploit mismatches against their opponents, with the new wrinkle of using four offensive linemen and leaving a skill position player ineligible the latest trick. In a straight up battle between the two I think Seattle has the edge, but if the Patriots can use something like that to put Seattle on the back foot, they can definitely beat the Seattle defense. Where I think the game will be won and lost is behind the arm of Russell Wilson, who hasn’t been anywhere near as good a passer as he was a year ago. We saw him rebound late in the NFC Championship against Green Bay, though, and I think they find a way to come up with enough big plays to beat the Patriots late to repeat as Champions.
Khaled – New England Patriots
A tough one. Key battle for me is how the Seahawks move the ball against a Patriots defense that is better than what it faced against Denver in the Super Bowl last year. If New England wins they’ll get the kind of field position and situational football that doesn’t force them to become one-dimensional and play into Seattles hands. If Seattle wins then we could see a repeat of last year. Ultimately, I think NE wins in a low-scoring affair, but the reality is this one is too close to call with two tremendously talented football teams capable of hitting heights hard to handle.
Nathan – Seattle Seahawks
There are a number of areas where they are close to evenly matched, but I think the areas where Seattle has an advantage outweighs the areas where New England does. Marshawn Lynch has been great at making guys miss, and a few Patriots have been worse than average at missing tackles. Both offensive lines have been below average, but Seattle has the weapons in Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett to take advantage of the Patriots’ offensive line, while the New England pass rush isn’t as effective. Seattle also has a slight edge with their special teams. If New England wins it will be in large part thanks to Gronkowski and Seattle killing themselves with penalties, but I think the slight odds go towards a Seahawks repeat.
Neil – New England Patriots
It’s the Patriots. I picked them at the start and I like my odds even more now. Before you accuse me of boasting I should admit this is my third year in a row of going with New England but this year their defense (at least on the back end) has improved enough to help my bank balance. It’s not all plain sailing – their interior O-line is very suspect (I expect to see Michael Bennett inside a lot) while on defense they don’t muster much of a rush – but I still think it will be enough. The best mind in football will find a way to limit Marshawn Lynch (my “new” choice for MVP) and give Russell Wilson (knee deep in the worst season of his career) fits. It’ll be a lot closer than against Indianapolis, but the third time will be my charm.
Rick – Seattle Seahawks
Torn, as many are, I’m settling away from the team I chose from the outset, abandoning my chance at an “I called it!” moment, and going with Seattle. Two teams that simply have that ability to ‘get it done’ when it matters, for me it comes down to the chances of each shutting down the opposite’s biggest threat, and I see Seattle being more effective against Gronk than New England against Lynch. I don’t think either of those key players blows up as they’ll each surely be a focus, but my money would be on the not-to-be-denied nature of the Seattle runner before any other in the game.
Sam – Seattle Seahawks
I’m picking the Seahawks but at this point it’s largely out of stubbornness. I think in the abstract Seattle has been the best team in football this season, but the more I examine this specific match up the less I like it for them. New England just seems tailor made to have success against them in the same way the Seahawks were custom made to destroy the high-flying Denver offense a year ago. I think it will be a close game either way, and if Seattle wins it’s because they don’t spot their opposition a double-digit lead for two games running.
Steve – New England Patriots
The game features a number of great matchups on paper. Can the Patriots offense move the ball against Seattle’s defense? Can New England’s defense match the league’s best defense of the last three seasons? While I’m not expecting a shootout, I think New England can move the ball a number of different ways offensively and I think their defense can play up to Seattle’s level, at least in a one-game setting. New England’s ability to dictate matchups for Rob Gronkowski will be huge factor while the backfield threats of Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson will be the key for Seattle’s offense as they might have a tough time passing against New England’s secondary. I’m expecting a close game and an outstanding back and forth battle between two well-coached teams. I’ll give the edge to New England by a field goal.