Sunday, January 18, 2015

Patriots Seahawks First Thoughts

The New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks will renew a unique rivalry in football circles when they face off in Superbowl XLIX.   It will be the seventeenth career meeting between the two clubs and the first in any kind of playoff context.   The rivalry is unique in NFL annals as the Patriots have faced the Seahawks when Seattle was in both NFL conferences - The Patriots were 6-7 against the Seahawks when Seattle was in the AFC West and is 2-1 since divisional realignment put the Seahawks into the NFC West.  

The two clubs have clashed in several memorable affairs - in 1980 Steve Grogan's Patriots won 37-31 after the game lead changed some five times; in 1984 Tony Eason got his first action in erasing a 23-0 Seahawks lead to win 38-23, the largest Patriots comeback win until 2013's thriller from down 24-0 to the Broncos.   Two years later the Seahawks won 38-31 by scoring on two blocked kicks.   The two clubs met twice in 1993 in the battle of that year's top two draft picks in Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer; the Seahawks clawed out wins in both meetings.   2012 saw a bitter 24-23 Seahawks win on a comeback by Russell Wilson in the first meeting between the Patriots and their former coach Pete Carroll. 

Some takes on the two clubs following their Conference Championships -

Andrew Luck continues to regress against the Patriots - Andrew Luck, the more he plays against the Patriots, the worse he seems to get.   He has ten interceptions in four career meetings with the Patriots and has a grand total of 72 points against them vs. nearly 200 scored against him by the Patriots.  

Curiously Brady struggles in the passing game against Chuck Pagano  - Though he had a solid day with three touchdowns, Tom Brady curiously has not been as prolific in his passing attack against Chuck Pagano's Colts than he did in years past.   The last three games have been defined by the running attack, notably Legarrette Blount's continuing rampage through the Indianapolis defense.

Wilson plays poorly but also plays clutch - A grossly underrated aspect of the Seahawks' win is the Packers' utter incompetence at situational football.  The fake field goal was one thing; the failure on the onside kick was worse.   Then there was Russell Wilson, who for the longest time looked completely in over his head, until the moment when he had to step up his game - and did just that.

Aaron Rodgers gets exposed as a fraud by the Seahawks yet again - This was worse than his other losses to Seattle, because Rodgers was able to jump the Packers to a 16-0 lead, yet at no point did he look in control of the game.   When the Seahawks scored on the fake field goal that was when the momentum turned decisively against the Packers.   Under Aaron Rodgers the Packers are entirely dependent on frontrunning; Rodgers is not capable of handling this kind of adversity - when he frontruns he looks great, but when he can't put a team away he falters and almost always loses.   With opportunities to stop the bleeding, Rodgers didn't do it.   He has now lost five of eleven career playoff games and the 2010 Superbowl looks more and more like the aberration of a career that may have plateaued years ago.

Seahawks barely escape the trap - The other shock was how poorly prepared the Seahawks were for the first half.   Inability to hold onto the ball, stupid penalties, and inability to generate any offense was mind-numbing and raised questions about what the heck the gameplan coming in was supposed to be.   The Seahawks also better know the Patriots have a far better offense than Aaron Rodgers can generate.

Those are the quick takes as we prepare for the two week long pregame shows on the Superbowl.

No comments: