I'm ecstatic to see my Patriots finally get their shot (maybe last one) at a fourth ring. I'm not even going to mention this Deflate Gate shit, because that's exactly what it is, shit.
My initial thoughts about the matchup with Seattle:
· Really wanted the Packers to win. I really think Belichick played a soft scheme vs. Rodgers in their regular season meeting and I fully believe Bill would've had a much more aggressive game plan for the Pack. If the Pack had won, I would've been very confident in the Pats getting them back in a revenge game. The Patriots would've been more than ready for Green Bay in a rematch.
· But, sadly, that isn’t the case and Green Bay found a way to lose Sunday, so we play Seattle. This is a much tougher matchup for the Patriots and a really intriguing one to say the least.
· The most important factor heading into February 1st is the offensive line, as it always seems to be. A big reason for the last two Super Bowl failures and most recent postseason failures has been the offensive line not performing very well. Seattle's front 4 is dirty. I mean dirty. The O-Line will certainly have their hands full for this one. The health and possible availability of Stork will be huge. While Kline at RG has been fine in Stork's absence, the O-line was at peak performance with Stork in there. If the offensive line can protect Tom, I trust him to pick apart the tough secondary for Seattle.
· Another big thing that needs to happen is the Pats need to get the run game going, or at least a little bit. The Pats need to stay balanced. The best way to combat the great pass rush of Seattle would be to get Blount some nice carries and have those rushers worrying about the run a little bit to take half a step off their pass rush. I’m not saying we need to go ground and pound on Seattle, because that is bold. But Blount should definitely see at least 12-15 carries into the teeth of the defense and if it gets going and is successful, then don’t stop it.
· With my man Gronk healthy, I’m actually not that afraid of the Seattle secondary. I don’t think Thomas, Chancellor or Sherman can cover Gronk one-on-one so there’s the advantage. Gronk demands multiple defenders and even then he can get off. Pete Carroll isn’t stupid like other coaches. He will make sure that Gronk does not get free releases off the line, so this is a game where Edelman, LaFell and Amendola need to step up. And I have faith in all three to do so. Seattle’s 2nd and 3rd CBs don’t scare me. They are good, yes, but I do think Jules and JoJo are talented enough to get open on them.
· Dealing with Sherman I think there are two options. We could one, throw a decoy out there like we have seen other teams do and not even test his side, or we say screw him he’s overrated and trot Gronk out there right across from him. I’ll take the latter idea. I say test Sherman early and often. He may not be 100% for this one and Gronk’s size can abuse Sherman’s skinnier frame if Brady can put the ball in the right spot.
· On defense, to put it in simple terms, be aggressive. I’ve said it ALL season. When I see Collins and Hightower over the center blitzing a lot and the corners are man up on their guys, this defense makes things happen. I want to see a lot of McCourty as a single high safety, Arrington and Revis manned up outside and then eight in the box with Bronwer and Chung as the 2 other linebackers. I would love to see Seattle try and throw 40+ times on us, but that won’t be the case. Marshawn Lynch carries this team and he’s priority #1 to stop.
· That is why my X-Factors on defense for this one are Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower. Personally, I think Collins should be assigned Russell Wilson for the entire game. BB should tell him “Jamie, you got Russell. I don’t care whether it’s a pass or run, he’s your guy. Don’t lose contain on him”. Collins has the speed to keep up with the elusive QB and he’s the best tackler on the team. That’s how we should handle Wilson if you ask me.
· From there, tackling Lynch is going to be a bitch. He’s one of my favorite runners in the league and he’s already haunting me. Sometimes this defense has trouble tackling and this guy doesn’t play so I can see him really hurting us in this one. Obviously, the easy solution to stopping him and getting some great penetration from Vince, Siliga and Branch so Collins and Hightower and shoot through the gaps and shut it down, but not really easy to do.
· If the Patriots can completely shut down the read option (which I don’t see happening), then this game could get ugly in our favor. Like I said, our secondary should have no issue with their WRs. If the Pats can make Seattle’s offense one dimensional toward passing, we have a great shot at this one.
Of course I would love to see the Pats destroy Seattle as they did to the Colts, but that just isn’t going to happen. I see this game being one of the best Super Bowls of all-time. I expect this game to be a one score affair from start to finish. It feels like the game will be defensive minded, low scoring and hard hitting. The Patriots have a great shot at winning this one if they get a great game plan together and execute it. Seattle is a team that won’t let you play around, so the Patriots cannot afford a slow start or dumb mistakes in this one. I will add my one comment about Deflate Gate right here: This is only going to piss the Pats off more. This team, especially BB and TB, does not need anything extra to be playing for at this point, but this BS is doing exactly that. It’s only going to fuel them up to kick ass. This team will be playing angry and relentless February 1st, I can guarantee you that.