|01.30.15 at 2:04 pm ET|
With Tom Brady and the high-powered Patriots offense facing off against Richard Sherman and the Seahawks‘ Legion of Boom defense in just two days, NFL insiders and analysts across the nation are offering their predictions. And to no surprise, they’re almost split on their opinions.
At ESPN, the Pats are a heavy favorite, with nine of 13 experts choosing New England. Merril Hoge, Ron Jawowrski, KC Joyner, Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter, Mark Schlereth, Seth Wickersham, Keyshawn Johnson, and Mike Ditka are all leaning toward a Patriots victory. Meanwhile, Eric Allen, Mike Golic, Tom Jackson, and Cris Carter are predicting a Seattle win.
At CBS, the Pats are also favored, but only by a 5-3 majority. Pete Prisco, Jason La Canfora, Will Brinson, Ryan Wilson, and Jamey Eisenberg are predicting the trophy will return to New England, while. Jared Dublin, John Breech and Dave Richard are looking for a repeat victory by Seattle.
SB Nation‘s experts, meanwhile, are leaning toward the Seahawks. Joel Thorman and Matt Ufford are the only two analysts picking the Pats. Ryan Van Bibber, Stephen White, David Fucillo, and Danny Kelly are predicting a Seattle win.
NFL.com‘s experts are also giving an edge to Seattle at an 8-6 margin. Adam Schein, Marc Sessler, Chris Weaseling, Dave Dameshek, Gregg Rosenthal, and Elliot Harrison are predicting a Patriots victory. Meanwhile, Bucky Brooks, Aditi Kinkhabwala, Charley Casserly, Gil Brandt, Kevin Patra, Charles Davis, Brian Billick, and Conor Orr are looking for another Seattle win.
Following are more Super Bowl XLIX predictions from around the country:
Neil Greenberg, Washington Post: Patriots 23, Seahawks 20. “The key for New England will be to keep the pressure off Brady and for him to complete the short passes while getting the ball to their best playmaker, tight end Rob Gronkowski.”
Sean O’Donnell, Bleacher Report: Seahawks 27, Patriots 24. “Both of these teams are extremely well put together, and we should expect a highly intense game that will most likely be decided in the final minute. The nod here goes to the squad that is more likely to force its opponent to play into its strengths, and that team is Seattle.”
|01.30.15 at 1:12 pm ET|
Schefter discussed how the close relationship between Patriots owner Robert Kraft and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will be affected by the Deflategate controversy.
“The majority of fans outside of the New England area, they don’t like the Patriots, they don’t want to believe the Patriots, and they think the Patriots did wrong,” Schefter said. “And you have this public at large that wants to see New England hung for this. And then you’ve got Roger Goodell’s biggest supporter owning that football team. So it leaves Roger Goodell and the NFL in a real no-win situation. … The challenge here may be if there is any evidence to make sure that all sides are satisfied with the outcome of this particular case.”
Last Saturday, coach Bill Belichick held a press conference addressing the controversy and passionately defending his team and organization.
“No. 1, Bill Belichick truly believes that his team did no wrong,” Schefter said. “There may have been something that went on, but I don’t believe that he had any idea that anything happened. I really believe that.”
Added Schefter: “I think [Belichick] wanted to make it very clear that he didn’t know about it and I think No. 2, he wanted to put everything that he had out there defending his team in the strongest manner possible so that they could go to Scottsdale and then say, look, I did two press conferences last week, I answered all these questions, and before the week kicks into high gear, he’s got it out of the way.”
“You can’t go into a game thinking of the enormity of it,” Schefter said. “You can’t think that this game has more significance on our legacy and this season than anything else. … It has a ginormous feel. It feels different, but you can’t approach it that way, you just have approach it like it’s Week 1 or Week 8 or Week 12 or whatever it may be.”
For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
|01.30.15 at 12:35 pm ET|
Putting the controversy aside and looking forward to Sunday’s game, McGinest was not willing to predict a Super Bowl winner.
“Anything could happen, I mean, it’s tough to try to predict,” McGinest said. “Look at all the games that nobody could get right this year. What I’m saying is, this is a heavyweight matchup. I love the way these two teams match up. The two right teams are here.”
Added McGinest: “There’s no excuses [for the Patriots]. The No. 1 thing going into this year from last year is health. They’ve got a lot of guys healthy outside of Jerod Mayo. Pretty much the defense is together and they’re ready to play. Offensively, all hands on deck. When you look at the mentality and the way they’re playing right now, beating teams in a lot of different ways. Whether it’s the ground game against Indianapolis, whether it’s the pass attack, spread offense vs. Baltimore, the defense playing a lot of man — Browner, Revis — they’re taking guys away. … It’s exciting.”
When asked for his response to Deflategate and the Patriots legacy, the three-time Super Bowl champion said that nothing should take away from what the team has accomplished.
“You talk about Deflategate, you break all those scenarios down,” McGinest said. “OK, they took the footballs at halftime, they went on a 28-0 run after that. I mean, I understand that this team knows the rules probably better than any organization in the league, and do they use it to their benefit? Yeah. Do they certain things that are cutting edge or pushing the line? Maybe. But is that the reason for all the Patriots’ success as far as the players, what they put into it and coach Belichick’s success? No, it’s not.”
For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
|01.30.15 at 11:54 am ET|
PHOENIX — Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount can now fully concentrate on the Sunday’s Super Bowl.
According to the Associated Press, the marijuana charge against Blount that stemmed from an August arrest with former Pittsburgh Steelers teammate Le’Veon Bell has been dropped after the Patriots running back completed 50 hours of community service.
The report says he completed those hours with Urban Achievers in Boston. The group’s website says it works to improve “the academic and social outcomes of children living in under-served and under-resourced communities.”
If he didn’t complete the 50 hours, he would have had to appear in court just outside Pittsburgh next week. Blount did have to miss a day of practice earlier in the year because of the case.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|01.30.15 at 11:42 am ET|
PHOENIX — Earlier in the week, Vince Wilfork said he would always choose family and faith over football.
Sherman has been asked this week what he would do if his son arrived in the hours before or during the Super Bowl.
Sherman thinks his boy will be a “disciplined young man,” waiting until after Sunday’s game. Sherman still would not commit on whether he’d miss the game.
‘Well that’s up to Richard,” Carroll said. “He knows that he has an opportunity to face a great decision. Whenever our players have a personal family issue that comes up, it’s always about the family first and they have to decide what’s best for them, and I support that. However he goes with that- if he’s faced with that decision- we’ll support that. We’ll see how that goes. Wish him luck.”
Of course, Carroll couldn’t help adding a little humor. “Can’t wait to see little Petey.”
|01.30.15 at 11:42 am ET|
|01.30.15 at 10:41 am ET|
Indianapolis-based columnist and breaker of the Deflategate story Bob Kravitz stopped by the Dennis & Callahan show on Friday to talk about the scandal and the Super Bowl. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
From what information he’s seen recently regarding Deflategate, Kravitz said it looks as if the Patriots might get out of this situation relatively unscathed, but he isn’t sure if it’s a result of their innocence or the league’s incompetence.
“I don’t know if that’s going to be the result of them either being completely exonerated and clean in this, which is a possibility, or if that’s the result of the NFL being completely incompetent, and the reason I say that is the Ray Rice fiasco. They showed during the Ray Rice fiasco that they can screw up a one-car funeral procession, you know what I mean?” he said.
“So it’s one of those two things but it’s going to be, and I said this from the beginning, it’s going to be tough to find that smoking gun,” Kravitz added. “I have a feeling that nothing is going to come of this, but I could be wrong. The burden of proof for the National Football League is quite a bit lower than it is, say, in a court of law.”
Kravitz said that Deflategate shouldn’t loom over the Patriots as a form of their legacy being compromised in the same way Spygate affected perceptions of the team.
“I don’t think this messes up their legacy,” he said. “I think Spygate is always going to be there and the fact that — and I don’t believe that there’s causation here — but the fact that they haven’t won a Super Bowl since Spygate hangs over them just a little bit, at least in the view of people outside of New England. I think if this ends up being nothing, I think it gets recalled in a “30-for-30″ 10, 20 years from now as a lot of hot air.”
In terms of the game itself, Kravitz told D&C that in his experience, “When you have a dominant defense vs. a very good to dominant offense, the dominant defense wins.” Kravitz mentioned that the Seahawks defense has been very strong as of late and, because of that, he said Seattle is going to win what will be a very close and “strangely low-scoring game.”