The Super Bowl is almost here, and the Seattle Seahawks are on the verge of establishing a dynasty. After winning it all a year ago by hammering the Denver Broncos, Seattle is back in the championship game with most of the same 53 guys.
Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson have combined to form the best RB-QB duo in terms of running the ball this year, and they've carried the Seattle offense through another deep postseason run. They've not been asked to do much though with the Legion of Boom suffocating opponents.
If the Seahawks want to repeat, they'll have to do so against the last NFL dynasty in New England. The Patriots won three titles in the 2000s, but haven't tasted a championship since 2005. Tom Brady is nearing the end of his hall-of-fame career, while Bill Belichick has the chance to cement his legacy as one of the greatest coaches in NFL history with another ring.
The majority of the experts are picking the Patriots to win Super Bowl 49, though not by a wide margin. At SB Nation, the guys took their best shots and went with Seattle over New England by a 4-3 ratio. At The MMQB, Greg Bedard is going with the Patriots in a 16-13 game.
Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post did a tremendous statistical breakdown of the game and has the Pats winning 23-20.
The Seahawks were the league's best rushing team during the regular season, averaging 5.3 yards per carry, and feature two of the most dangerous runners in the NFL: quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch.
Lynch broke a league-leading 88 tackles on the run and averaged 2.96 yards after contact. Almost half of those broken tackles were towards the outside (40) and he racked up even more yardage on those runs after contact (3.4).
EA Sports ran the Super Bowl through the Madden '15 simulator, and New England came out the victor, 28-24, per Sports Illustrated. The OddsShark computer is siding with the Patriots to win their fourth Super Bowl title, but only by one point with an over/under of 47.5.
The eight analysts at CBS Sports are also favoring New England by a 5-3 margin. At ESPN, nine of 13 analysts are picking the Patriots to come out victorious. Here's some of what ESPN Stats and Info has on Super Bowl 49:
The Seahawks have one of the best pass defenses in the NFL, but the way to beat them is with the tight end. Opposing quarterbacks have 11 touchdowns and 2 interceptions when targeting tight ends. When throwing to backs and receivers, quarterbacks have 6 touchdowns and 11 interceptions against the Legion of Boom.
Since the start of his NFL career, Russell Wilson has been under pressure on 483 dropbacks, including the postseason -- the 2nd-highest total in the league over that span (Andrew Luck). That's 137 more dropbacks than Tom Brady has been pressured in that same span, and Wilson's QBR on such plays is 56 (4th among qualified QBs) to Brady's 28 (15th).
Richard Sherman has lined up on the offense's right (defense's left) on all but 1 of his snaps as a cornerback this postseason. Seahawks opponents have completed just 6-of-17 attempts outside the right field numbers this postseason as a result.
*When Tom Brady throws to Brandon LaFell, he has a Passer Rating of 104.2, and when he throws to Julian Edelman he has a Passer Rating of 103.9. They are both in the Top 15 among the 50 wide receivers with the most targets.
*Tight end Rob Gronkowski led all tight ends in Yards Per Route Run at 2.53. He was one of just two tight ends above 2.0 this year. This is his third straight year leading the league, and fifth straight year in the Top 5.
*Since Week 12, Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Logan Ryan have each been thrown at 34 times. Revis and Ryan have both allowed 15 catches each for a catch rate of 44.1% which are both among the Top 10 among cornerbacks over that time. Browner has allowed 19 catches for a low catch rate of 55.9%.
*On quarterback scrambles, Russell Wilson had 12 defenders miss tackles on him which led the league and is three times more than the third-ranked quarterback. He also led the league in yards on scrambles with 529 on 56 attempts.
*When Seattle is running an option run play, Marshawn Lynch has seven touchdowns which leads all players on that type of play. Tied for second in the league is Russell Wilson at five. The Patriots have defended 68 option run plays this season, and have yet to allow a touchdown.
At the end of the day, if the game goes as most experts are predicting it to, this should be one of the better Super Bowls we've seen in recent memory.