The 49th Super Bowl won’t be one that is wanting for controversy. Nor will it be lacking intrigue. The New England Patriots pack the controversy in tight for Super Bowl XLIX, as they come into Arizona fresh off of a “Deflategate” scandal that actually isn’t even resolved. Their plight to win their fourth Super Bowl in seven tries is made even more difficult when you consider their opponentĀ combined with the off-field drama.

Seattle as a challenge will do, as they boast the #1 overall defense (top-five against both the pass and run) and are the defending Super Bowl champions. Tom Brady and co. just want to avoid losing a third straight NFL title, while the Seahawks aim to win back to back championships and just their second Lombardi Trophy ever. Needless to say, this is arguably one of the most intense Super Bowls ever and these teams haven’t even hit the field.

Even more intense than the actual hype or game, however, just might be this year’s Super Bowl line. Betting on the Super Bowl is going to be extremely difficult this year, as the Patriots carry a -1 line as the “favorite” into this battle. Seattle is the proposed “underdog” in what truly amounts to a pick’em affair. All of the analysis in the world can prepare people for this one, as it could literally go either way and the oddsmakers clearly agree.

The Total

This game has a set total of 47.5 and it’s hard to see that being met. If you’re not comfortable with the line (and how could you be?), you should be able to find some solace in the Total, which could project as high as 24-23 (for the Under). That’s a solid notion to chase, since the Seahawks gave up a league low 15.9 points per game on the year. New England is certainly no pushover offensively, as they ended the year with the fourth best scoring offense at over 29 points per game. Seattle wasn’t a slouch, either, as they put up over 24 points per game (10th) on the year.

Even just by averaging out what Seattle has given up and what the Patriots usually score, you get 22 points for the Patriots and by doing the same against New England’s 19 points allowed per game on defense, the Seahawks project to score about 21.5. By points alone, the Patriots barely come out ahead. This is just one way to show just how close this matchup appears to be, but should also display the likelihood of the Total being met.

New England’s history in the big game bodes well for a low Total projection, as well, as their last two Super Bowls were well under the current 47.5 total. The same is for Seattle on one side, as they held the best offense in the league last year (Denver Broncos) to just eight points. Thanks to New England’s balanced offense and a better defense than the Broncos had a year ago, a 43-8 blowout is far less likely. The odds, it seems, appear to be in favor of a low Total and a hard-fought, down to the wire game.

The Pick

All of that makes this in a sense a straight up pick, and if that’s the case, it’s hard not to take the Seahawks. New England absolutely has the better pure pocket passer in Brady, a solid running game with a stable of competent running backs, a dangerous slot receiver in Julian Edelman and a huge difference-maker in tight end Rob Gronkowski. They even have a very solid defense backed by star corner Darrelle Revis. The Seahawks have the better defense, though, boast an elusive passer in Russell Wilson, one of the best running backs in the league in Marshawn Lynch and a group of seemingly underrated wide receivers.

The problem? Seattle seems to have a loud, emphatic answer for everything the Pats’ offense can throw at them. Stud safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas could easily lock down Gronkowski (they did it to Jimmy Graham last year), Seattle’s third-ranked run defense could shut down LeGarrette Blount and their top-ranked pass defense could stifle New England’s fairly pedestrian receiving corps. Since they’ve been doing these very things all year and come in white hot on a 10-game winning streak, that’s what is likely to take place.

Ultimately, the Seahawks are probably going to win this game, and for so many reasons. This is betting on the Super Bowl, though. Betting in general is a guess based on research. The numbers and logic tell us these teams are closely matched, but the Seahawks are from top to bottom the better team. Look for Seattle to win a nail-biter, one that might even come down to the last play, but also will stay under the listed Total. Take the Seahawks and Under the Total this Super Bowl Sunday, and you just might end the NFL season on a high note.

Pick: Seahawks 23, Patriots 16

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