The Super Bowl is here. The biggest game of the year. It is almost always the single highest rating TV program of the year. It's watched by die-hard NFL fans like myself. But, also by people who know next to nothing about football.
The Super Bowl is so much more than a football game. It has become a part of American culture the way no other sporting event has. The first Super Bowl, played in Los Angeles, had tickets for under $10. It was about half empty. The game was broadcasted by two different TV stations. And the halftime performance was by the marching band from my alma mater, the University of Arizona.
Needless to say it has changed. I'm sure few, if any at the time could image what the game has become.
I still remember the first Super Bowl I ever watched. It was back in January of 1999. The game was between the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons. Since I was 9-years-old, I had no idea what I was watching. I had no idea I was seeing the last game ever of great quarterback John Elway. I rooted for the Broncos for some reason.
Ironically, since I have become a die-hard Oakland Raiders fan, I now despise the Denver Broncos.
There have been some great exciting Super Bowls. There are also been some blowouts like last year's 41-8 victory of the Seattle Seahawks over the Broncos.
But, regardless, millions of people still watch it every year.
Here is a breakdown of each team by position, who has the advantage and a prediction of the outcome.
Position quarterback: Tom Brady New England Patriots, Russell Wilson Seahawks. Advantage, Patriots.
Breakdown: This advantage is by no means any disrespect to Wilson. He is a great young quarterback and I think has a chance to be just as good if not eventually better than Brady.
But, right now there is no way you can pick Wilson over Brady. This will be Brady's sixth Super Bowl, Wilson's second. Brady has won three, Wilson has won one. Brady has the most touchdowns in postseason history. He has the second most touchdowns in regular season history. Brady and the Patriots are the clear winners at this position.
Rushing offense. Starting running back, Seattle Seahawks Marshawn Lynch, LeGarrette Blount for Patriots.
Advantage goes to Seahawks. Lynch in my opinion is a top three running back in the league. He led the NFL in rushing touchdowns this season. That alone gives this position to Seattle. If the Patriots are to win this game, I think they need to hold Lynch to under 100 yards.
This is by no means saying the Patriots are terrible at running the ball. That's definitely not the case. LeGarrette Blount rejoined the team in November. And finished with 5 regular season rushing touchdowns for them, plus already three more in the postseason. Blount makes New England's rushing offense strong. But at the end of the day, he is simply no Lynch.
Receivers and tight ends. Advantage goes to Patriots.
Breakdown: Neither team is very strong at receiver. There is only one big play maker at this position for either team. That is New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski has put up receiving numbers unbelievable for a tight end. This season he had 1,124 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.
There is little doubt the University of Arizona alum will look to put on a show two hours from where he went to college. And he needs to. I think he needs to catch at least two touchdowns for the Patriots to win. This advantage is all Patriots' and it's probably the most lopsided one for either team on offensive.
Offensive line: Advantage goes to Seahawks.
Breakdown: All football fans know the offensive line is very important and much underrated. Neither team had a single offensive lineman selected to the Pro Bowl. Which is very unusual of two Super Bowl teams. The Seahawks definitely have forces on the line. Especially with Max Unger at center and Russell Okung at left tackle .They give this advantage to Seattle.
Total offensive: Advantage goes Patriots.
Breakdown: Some might say the Patriots offense is much better than the Seahawks. I disagree that it's a lot better. But, the Brady- Gronkowski combo is just so good and tough to defend. The Seahawks do have a great defense. Which I think can contain the Patriots offense Last year. But, as far as both offensives go, New England is simply better.
Breakdown of defense
Defensive line. Advantage Patriots.
Breakdown: The Seahawks have the best defense in the league. But, that's not because of their defensive line. The truth is, New England's defensive line isn't amazing either. But, the Patriots do have defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. Wilfork is an aging player. But, his 47 tackles from the defensive tackle position in 2014 isn't bad and he can still make plays at time. Wilfork gives the Patriots a slight edge over the Seahawks.
Linebackers: Advantage goes to Seahawks.
Breakdown: Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner recorded 104 tackles this season. That gained him a pro bowl spot. Outside linebacker KJ Wright had 107 tackles.
New England has a solid linebacker core as well. But, only outside linebacker Jamie Collins was able to get over the 100 tackle for the Patriots. Advantage goes to Seattle. Although it is close.
Secondary: Advantage goes to Seahawks.
Breakdown: It's just really unfair to compare any team's secondary to the Seahawks.' This is the unit that makes them the best defense in the NFL. Cornerback Richard Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor all made Pro Bowl selections this season. Sherman is regarded as the best cornerback in the league.
The Patriots might have the second best cornerback in Darrelle Revis. Also safety Patrick Chung had a solid season with 85 tackles. But, there is just no way any team has a better secondary than Seattle.
Overall defense: Advantage goes to Seahawks. The Seahawks defense is the best and doesn't have much weakness other than maybe defensive line. Just a year ago, this defense held the best regular season scoring offense to just eight points in the Super Bowl. It will be interesting to see if Brady tests Sherman at all during the game. Teams don't usually throw to Sherman's side. But when it does happen, it often results in bad things for the offense.
Special teams. Advantage goes to Patriots. There really isn't too much to breakdown here. Patriots' kicker Stephen Gostkowski had a solid season and made the Pro Bowl. Gostkowski made 35 field goals out of 37 attempts. He also made 51 extra point attempts. His overall points total for the season was 156. Patriots Matthew Slater made the pro bowl as a kick returner. New England has the advantage here. If this game comes down to special teams, it could spell doom for the Seahawks.
Coaching: Advantage goes to Patriots.
The coaching match-up in this Super Bowl I think is the closet match-up of all the aspects. Both New England's Bill Belichick and Seattle's Pete Carroll have won Super Bowls. This is a very close. But, I give the slight advantage to Belichick.
Belichick's career hasn't been without controversy. He was hired as head coach of the New York Jets. But, that lasted a day as he resigned and then quickly became the Patriots head coach. There has been the scandal of Spy-gate, where he and the Patriots were accused of stealing the Jets defensive signals.
Now there is ongoing "Deflategate" as to whether the Patriots were trying to give an advantage by deflating footballs under the proper weight.
But, regardless Belichick has an impressive resume that these scandals can't tarnish.
Carroll is a coach who has won at both levels. He was unsuccessful his first time in the NFL. But, did a great job at USC. Won a national championship that has since been vacated due to NCAA violations. But, most if not everyone still remembers how dominate his USC teams were.
His return to the NFL has resulted in a Super Bowl and possibly a second. This is as close as it gets, but Belichick with three Super Bowl wins and six total appearances gets the edge.
Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 27, New England Patriots 24.
Breakdown: Despite giving the Patriots more advantages, I still think Seattle will come out on top as back to back Super Bowl champions. Mostly because I think the Seahawks can overcome where the Patriots have the edge. After Seattle's late fourth quarter comeback against Green Bay, I think this team can overcome pretty much anything. I expect a big game from Lynch. I expect the Seahawks defense to force some turnovers. I understand Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play. But, this postseason he hasn't faced a defense like Seattle. I expect Russell Wilson to play clean football. Wilson had a horrible game in the NFC championship game with four interceptions. I think it's safe to say he won't play like that again. I think this Super Bowl will be one of the classic ones. And I think the city of Seattle will enjoy its second Super Bowl win in as many years.