Duke Debates: Seattle Seahawks

Saúl Berríos-Thomas | Layout Editor

If you haven’t heard of the Legion of Boom by now, you’re probably not going to watch the Super Bowl anyway. The Seattle Seahawks’ secondary is only one of the key parts of this game though, and it might not even be the most interesting one.

The matchup that I think will determine the outcome of the Super Bowl is the Seahawks’ ground game. Marshawn “Beastmode” Lynch may seem like the kind of guy who runs it up the gut of the defense, but he actually excels when he gets to the outside where he can use his strength and explosive speed to plow through one-on-one tackles. Lynch broke 40 tackles on runs to the outside this season, according to Pro Football Focus. The Patriots have been alright against edge runs, but outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich has missed 10 tackles against the run this season, which is tied for the most in the league among 3-4 outside linebackers, according to Pro Football Focus.

Another key factor in the Seahawks’ run game is the scrambling ability of Russelll Wilson. Wilson has a knack for eluding tackles and that pays off, whether it’s a downfield scramble or just a quick move around the pocket to give his receivers enough time to get open. He may not look like it without a physique of Cam Newton or Ben Roethlisberger, but he is elusive and he is very cognizant to avoid big hits. There is not much data to show how the Patriots handle this because they only faced two option keepers by a quarterback all year (both by Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins).

One thing that really helps the Seahawks is their matchup with tight end Rob Gronkowski. The aforementioned Legion of Boom has athletes that are sized to cover the phenomenal 6-foot-6 265 pound tight end. Kam Chancellor specifically is only three inches shorter than Gronkowski, and he is faster and can jump higher than Gronk. Shutting down Gronkowski is key, because he is the Patriots’ best weapon on offense.

Tom Brady may not be dead yet, but he is getting closer in terms of football. As quarterbacks age the drop-off is gradual. That has been especially clear with players like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. The first thing to fade is the deep ball. Brady is not a great deep ball passer, and most of his long receptions are a result of yards-after-catch.

The only way the Patriots win is if they deflate all of the footballs and it would take a lot of balls to do that.

Pick: Seahawks win 30-7

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