Keys To Super Bowl Matchup – Rushing Defense, Short Passing Game
Some bona-fide football subplots to keep an eye on in the Big Game.
As we saw during the NFC and AFC Championship games, the game starts and ends with the offensive and defensive line. Seattle hardly touched Aaron Rodgers, and needed a hail mary TD in overtime to win. Conversely, New England pressured Andrew Luck and the Colts and hampered their effective ground game in their big AFC win.
According to ESPN, here are some big matchups to watch:
*The #1 Rushing Attack vs. #1 Ground Scoring Defense. New England only allowed six rushing TD's all season, Seattle's Marshawn Lynch scored six in November.
*Forget Richard Sherman - LB Bobby Wagner is the key to stopping New England's running game by committee. When Wagner was on the field, opponents only scored one rushing TD every 82 carries. Without him, one in every 27.
*The Patriots Short Passing game - could give Seattle problems. When Brady was throwing darts to a wide array of Patriot receivers in the short passing game, he was getting rid of the ball in an average of 2.1 seconds. The Patriots were 2nd or 3rd in the NFL in every such short passing game catagory, including 24 touchdowns. Seattle was 27th in the league against the short passing game, allowing a 73% completion percentage.
*Brady excels vs. The Blitz - Seattle likes to come after quarterbacks if they cannot get pressure. Patriots Tom Brady was 2nd in the league when facing a blitz, sacked only 2% of the time. All his passing catagories are even better when teams throw the sink at him. Seattle had the best percentage of sacks coming off blitzes in the league.
And finally the coaching matchup. Pete Carroll was the last coach in New England before the arrival of Bill Belichick. Carroll's failure to get the Patriots past the first round of the playoffs led to his demise, and now they face off in Super Bowl 2015.