NFL: Tom Brady can lead Patriots to Super Bowl triumph yet again
The 2014-15 NFL season reaches its dramatic climax with Superbowl XLIX on Sunday night. Here we tell you how New England Patriots can emerge triumphant in Glendale, Arizona.
In a league where it is tough to be consistent from year-to-year, New England have defied the odds to deliver sustained success for over a decade now.
Since 2001, the Patriots have won 12 AFC East division titles, reached nine AFC championship games, and have appeared in five Super Bowls, winning three.
Sunday’s game in Arizona will mark the Patriots’ sixth Super Bowl appearance in 14 years. No other NFL team has come close to matching that level of success in the same time-span.
And they haven’t finished yet – New England look more than capable of locking up a fourth NFL title, after demolishing Indianapolis 45-7 in this year’s AFC Championship game to secure yet another trip to the Super Bowl.
Why the Patriots can beat the Seahawks
The Patriots (odds-on 10/11 favourites with Coral) will look to Tom Brady, who continues to play at an elite level at the age of 37, to lead them to victory at University of Phoenix Stadium.
New England’s star quarterback was one of just three players to throw more than 30 touchdown passes (33), while also registering single-digit interceptions (nine) this season – giving Brady an impressive touchdown to interception of 3.7-to-one and a passer rating of 97.4.
In the playoffs, Brady has continued his impressive form, recording six touchdowns against just two interceptions and a passer rating of 99.8 in wins over Baltimore and Indianapolis.
In every major statistical category, Brady has outperformed his opposite number, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, this season – and the Patriots would appear to have the edge at the most important position on the field as a result.
Brady will likely look to star tight end Rob Gronkowski for many of his targets this Sunday. Gronkowski stands at 6ft 6in, and his size creates nightmare match-ups for opposition defences everywhere. He combines raw power and strength with great hands, and that has seen him produce astonishing numbers that would not look out of place for a true wide receiver.
Gronkowski recorded 82 catches for 12 touchdowns and 1,124 yards this season – 15th-best in the NFL and number one out of all tight ends. Punters can back him at a tempting 11/4 double bet to score a Touchdown in a Patriots win. Coral also offer odds of 5/1 for Gronkowski to score twice or more in Glendale.
The New England offense is not wholly reliant on passing, however, and they will also look to run the ball in order to manage the clock and reduce Seattle’s time of possession.
Running back LeGarrette Blount is a powerful rusher, who scored three times for the Patriots when they thrashed the Colts in the AFC Championship game a fortnight ago – he can backed at 33/1 to repeat that feat, and at a market-best 8/1 to score the first touchdown.
Defensively, New England will seek to keep Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson in the pocket and force him to throw. The likes of defensive ends Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich, and linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins, have the ability to help the Patriots diagnose and shutdown the Seahawks on read option plays.
If New England can take away Wilson’s ability to run, it will make him a lot less dangerous – and the Patriots’ front four are certainly capable of bringing the pressure to Wilson and forcing mistakes.
It’s worth noting that Green Bay’s defense used similar tactics in the NFC Championship game, and managed to stymie Seattle’s offense more than three and a half quarters. The Patriots defense however is arguably better than that of Green Bay and could do an even better job.
Mistakes were in abundance in the game between the Seahawks and Packers, where Wilson tossed four interceptions as Seattle trailed 22-7 late in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots’ secondary will be on the lookout for opportunities to pick off Wilson in the Super Bowl. Star cornerback Darrelle Revis in particular could pounce on any mistakes that are made by the young quarterback, having already recorded an interception in the AFC Championship against the Colts.
One thing is for sure – Seattle cannot afford to make as many costly turnovers in the Super Bowl as they did against Green Bay. The Patriots are not going to repeat the unbelievable catalogue of errors that Green Bay did in allowing Seattle back into the game late on.
Who will be MVP?
The Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player award is usually – but not always – won by the winning team’s quarterback. In Super Bowl history, 26 out of 48 MVP awards have gone to quarterbacks.
In that respect, many punters will be drawn towards backing Tom Brady at odds of 6/4. Brady has won the award twice before, and a third award would put him level with the great Joe Montana for the most-ever.
Other skill position players on offense are the next most likely group to win the award, and so readers may also wish to consider backing Gronkowski at odds of 10/1.
The NFL’s greatest ever team?
New England appear to have the edge at the key positions on offense – quarterback and receivers – and have the pieces on defense to trouble Seattle’s less-than-stellar passing attack.
Furthermore, they have a head coach in Bill Belichick, who has an uncanny knack for out-thinking the opposition. In this year’s playoff game against Baltimore for instance, he bamboozled the Ravens’ defense with never-before-seen offensive formations that allowed the Patriots to make big plays at crucial moments.
In the event of a tight game, that kind of tactical genius could help give New England the win. Punters may also be assured that the aggressive Belichick will not repeat the mistakes of Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy, whose passive play-calling ultimately cost his team the chance to beat Seattle two weeks ago.
In 14 years, Brady and Belichick have combined for more wins (both in the regular season and in the playoffs) than any other Quarterback-Head Coach combo in NFL history.
A fourth Super Bowl triumph here would cap off a remarkable period of domination, and propel Belichick, Brady, and the Patriots to the top of many people’s lists of NFL greats.