Seahawks' defense simply too good to lose to Patriots

As much as the game has changed, one constant in the NFL is the belief that great defense wins championships, and that is the major reason why the Seattle Seahawks will become the first team to win consecutive Super Bowl titles since the New England Patriots in 2004 and 2005.

There is all of this hype about the NFL being a quarterback-driven league and how rule changes have helped offenses score more, but there is nothing like a mean, ornery, intimidating and suffocating defense.


Pittsburgh had one in the 1970s, and Chicago had one in the mid 1980s. The Ravens produced a stellar one in 2000 followed by Tampa Bay two years later.

Next up: The Seattle Seahawks.


But it's not just the defense that will lead Seattle to victory.

The Seahawks are old school — mixing that ferocious defense with the NFL's top ground game led by the league's best runner in Marshawn Lynch, and quarterback Russell Wilson, who can beat you either in the pocket or outside of it.

It's hard to pick against the Patriots and Bill Belichick, especially when he has had two weeks to prepare. Of all the coaches who have preceded him in the NFL, Belichick might be the best. He is a combination of brilliance and arrogance, so conniving that he gets in trouble trying to find an edge.

And of course there is quarterback Tom Brady, who always manages to control the pace of the game regardless if he is winning or losing. Like Belichick, his three previous Super Bowl victories make him one of the game's best.

But this is a league that thrives on toughness, talent and being able to identify and overcome the other team's weaknesses. Belichick found a way to outcoach the Ravens and Brady delivered the game-winning 23-yard touchdown pass with 5:13 left in the Patriots' divisional playoff win against the Ravens.

But trick plays and deception are also a sign of weakness, and New England's will be on display Sunday evening. The Patriots can't run the ball. They ran 40 times for 177 yards against Indianapolis Sunday in the AFC championship, but the Colts haven't played good run defense since they left Baltimore in 1983.

The Ravens held New England to 14 yards on 13 rushing attempts in their divisional playoff game. Because the Ravens' secondary was so pitiful, Brady was content to throw short passes and chop up the group.

That won't happen against Seattle, which has the NFL's third-best rushing defense, allowing just 81.5 yards a game. The Seahawks will also turn their pass rush loose with ends Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and outside linebacker Bruce Irvin taking advantage of a Patriots offensive line that has had problems protecting Brady at times this season.

The Seahawks' defense is good enough where they don't have to blitz often because they can get pressure with their front four or five. Brady was successful against the Ravens because they couldn't play press coverage and tackle after short receptions.

That's not a problem with Seattle. The Seahawks have the game's best cornerback in Richard Sherman and another excellent one in Byron Maxwell. They have two great safeties in Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.

So, New England's offense could look a lot like Denver's in the Super Bowl a year ago. Sherman and Maxwell will tie up outside receivers Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman at the line of scrimmage, and shadow them all over the field in shutting down the crossing routes and pick plays.

What about Rob Gronkowski?


He takes tight end play to another level, but expect the Seahawks to bracket him with linebacker K.J. Wright and Chancellor. The Chancellor vs. Gronkowski battle is worth the price of admission alone, but think about this: On defense, Seattle has two players in Sherman and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who are the best at their positions in the game, and about three others who are close. During the regular season, the Seahawks were first in points allowed (15.9), total yards (267.1) and passing yards (185.6).

On offense, Seattle will turn Lynch loose. He has speed, power and can wear down a defense. This New England defense is the best the Patriots have had in years with linebackers Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins and cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis, but the Ravens pushed New England around.

They dominated the Patriots at the line of scrimmage, and got movement against beefy nose tackle Vince Wilfork. Seattle doesn't have an overpowering offensive line, but Lynch makes that group so much better.

New England matches up well with Seattle receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, but the Patriots have no answer for Wilson. Few teams do. He has the uncanny ability to know when to hold onto the ball or take off and run. What he did in the final three minutes against Green Bay in the NFL championship game was phenomenal.

Brady is like Peyton Manning from a year ago. His skills haven't diminished that much yet, but the arm strength in throwing downfield isn't what it used to be. With offenses continuing to gain advantages that force defenses to attack more, a quarterback has to be able to make plays outside the pocket.

Brady can't do that against Seattle. The Patriots will try to be balanced, but the Seahawks will make them one dimensional. As the game goes on, Lynch will grind the Patriots down and Seattle will eventually wear down New England.

The Seahawks are just too tough and too physical. Afterwards, their defense will have to be considered one of the best ever. After all, they would have beaten two eventual Hall of Famers in Manning and Brady on the sport's biggest stage.

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