New England Patriots @ Seattle Seahawks: Super Bowl 2015 preview

A look ahead to Sunday's huge game

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The Independent Online

After 266 matches in the 2014 NFL season, just one more remains. The Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots will compete in the 49th Super Bowl and this one has the makings of a classic.

For the second consecutive season the finale features the top two seeded teams, although the Patriots will hope to avoid the same fate as the Denver Broncos, who were humiliated by the Seahawks last February.

Despite being the NFL’s best, both teams faced immense adversity early in the season. When the Seahawks lost three of their first six games they were labelled one-season wonders. When the Patriots were hammered 41-14 in Kansas, leaving them with a 2-2 record, many said Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s era of dominance was over.

Both statements couldn’t have been further from the truth. The Seahawks have lost once since October 19 and the Patriots have tasted defeat just twice since that loss to the Chiefs, and one of those losses came when they had already clinched the number one seed in the AFC.

The Patriots’ preparations for the Super Bowl have been rocked by deflate-gate, a scandal which has made headlines worldwide. The inquiry into whether or not they intentionally deflated footballs in their AFC Championship win over the Indianapolis Colts has certainly made the Patriots the villain of this particular play. 

Belichick has been forced to defend his team in two press conferences while the NFL conduct their investigation and at Tuesday’s media day, the coach swerved any questions about the saga.

Another person who swerved questions on Tuesday was Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks running back was keen to remind reporters that he was in attendance for one simple reason: “I’m here so I won’t get fined.”

Lynch was asked 29 questions and his answer was the same every time. He stayed for 4 minutes and 51 seconds - players and coaches are meant to answer an hour’s worth of questions - before departing.

The Patriots will hope to make Lynch’s appearance on Sunday just as brief. Not many teams have been able to stop the man nicknamed Beast Mode but the Seahawks might be in trouble if they are left to rely on Russell Wilson’s arm. 

Before their miraculous recovery against the Green Bay Packers - which Wilson was hugely instrumental in - the quarterback was largely responsible for the sticky situation the Seahawks faced as he threw four interceptions, three of which came in the first half.

Perhaps the best two secondaries in the NFL will be on show this weekend. Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, who was on the Seahawks roster last season, make up half of what has been a consistently solid Patriots secondary, while the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom - cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell and safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas III - has all the attributes to stake a claim for the best secondary in NFL history.

Sherman and Co will certainly make Tom Brady work for his fourth Super Bowl. It is ten years since Brady won his last ring, an astonishing stat when you consider the Pats have been to six AFC Championship in that time.

Brady won three Super Bowls in his first five seasons; Wilson is bidding for a second in his opening three. The world awaits to see which of these winners is victorious come Sunday.

The Independent will have live coverage of the Super Bowl from 11pm on Sunday night.