When all the hysteria about deflated balls and running backs who hate the media subsides, remember that two teams remain and will play 60 more minutes of football.
That's why this entire week exists.
Various Acme Packing Company writers have given our picks throughout the 2014 NFL season, and we have one last game to pick this year. It's the Super Bowl, of course, and with the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots separated by just two points in the betting lines, the game appears likely (at least for now) to be a close one and go down to the wire.
Seven of us have submitted our picks for Sunday's game, and in addition to seeing who we're picking, we're explaining why. Check out our picks below, and let us know where you think we went wrong.
Thanks for a great season!
Evan "Tex" Western: Patriots
This pick, to me, comes down to a few main factors. What are the best ways to beat the Seahawks' defense? A tough power running game that can pick up chunks of yardage up the middle and a big, talented tight end to attack the seam. The Patriots have both of those qualities.
On the other side of the ball, the Seahawks' success on offense will of course be heavily dictated by Marshawn Lynch's running, but it's Russell Wilson who will need to produce both on the ground and through the air for Seattle to put up points. The Patriots possess one of the most versatile linebackers in the league in Jamie Collins, and I look for them to have him lined up all over the field to contain Wilson and his tight ends.
I think it's completely reasonable to pick either way in this game. However, one area where the Packers struggled against Seattle is one where the Patriots perform well - converting touchdowns in the red zone. If New England can find the end zone instead of settling for field goals early, they'll win this game. I think that they will do just that.
Jason B. Hirschhorn: Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots each hold one significant advantage over the other. Seattle possesses two elite-level rushers in tailback Marshawn Lynch (1,306 yards at a clip of 4.7) and Russell Wilson (849 at 7.2) and faces a defense that ranked middle of the pack in run defense by DVOA. Meanwhile, the Patriots have Rob Gronkowski, the league's most difficult pass catcher to defend, covered by a team that struggled against tight ends all year.
If Tom Brady had better wheels, I'd be inclined to side with New England. Quarterbacks adept at both passing and creating with their legs have given Seattle trouble, à la Tony Romo in Week 6. Because he doesn't, and because I cannot envision the Patriots slowing down either Lynch or Wilson on the ground, I'll take the Seahawks to win their second straight Super Bowl.
Aron Yohannes: Seahawks
Everything about Seattle right now has them set up to lose: A dinged up Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, a running back that a lot people believe is a bad guy, etc. But like we saw in the NFC Championship and all season, somehow, someway, the Seahawks just pull out tough victories late when they look out of it. They've been built for the fourth quarter, and I feel like they still have another miraculous performance up their sleeve on the biggest stage of them all to win their second-straight title. I think this game will be a lot better than the one last year in New York, but I'm going with Seattle 31-24 with Marshawn Lynch as the MVP.
Brendan Kennedy: Seahawks
I've heard a lot of rationale making a case for a Patriots win over the last few days. Some of it is pretty compelling. The Patriots can run the ball effectively. They have great corners to match up with Seattle's mediocre receivers. Oh, and the Seahawks don't get nearly the same pass rush as opposed to last year.
But nah, screw all that.
The Seahawks are going to tear New England apart. I normally don't play the proxy game with teams, but Green Bay - a better team than New England - just lost to Seattle despite Seattle playing a historically poor game. I wouldn't count on Russell Wilson throwing another four picks. Of course, none of this speaks to how these two teams match up with one another, but I'm not sure I see a big difference in that department either. The Seahawks mutilated the most prolific offense in NFL history just a year ago and a lot of the same problems they gave Manning (specifically, daring him to go deep) work just as well against Tom Brady. New England has a decent running game and like I said, Seattle isn't quite the same team from last year, but still. Their defense is going to leave Arizona with flesh and bones hanging from their mouths. I got this one Seattle: 30 New England: 13
Paul Noonan: Patriots
I am not confident at all in this pick. I think this is a very even matchup and I won't be at all surprised if this game ends up as a reflection of the Kansas City Chiefs' destruction of the Patriots in week 4. In that game Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis combined for 199 yards on 34 carries and a very good KC defense held the Pats to just 14 points. Seattle is much better on defense, and better at running the ball.
That said, the Pats are a much better team than they were in week 4. I believe the Packers, with Clay Matthews in the middle provided a good template for taking away Russell Wilson's running and I expect Bill Belichick was paying attention. I think the Pats will find a way to turn the Seahawks into a passing team, I think Rob Gronkowski will exploit Seattle's biggest weakness, and ultimately I think New England wins a close one. The Seahawks have actually struggled against quality opponents this season and I expect this will be no different.
Vermont Cubs Fan: Seahawks
While some might look at New England's 45-7 victory over the Colts as a sign that the Patriots will win easily, I remain skeptical. The Colts play in a really weak division, winning it year after year because the other three teams in the division are, for the most part, not world-beaters. Their win over the Broncos, too, had the mark of coming against Peyton Manning, who has the most one-and-dones in NFL history.
For these reasons, I'm a little skeptical as I don't believe the Colts are that good, so I take little stock in New England's win over them. As such, I believe Seattle will prevail, unfortunately, in a tight game.
Will Hayes: Seahawks
The last Super Bowl was so bad, I'm not even sure I know how to enjoy it this year. Odds are it will be a great game, but if the Seahawks stomp out the Patriots like they did the Broncos, Seattle will be smothered in well-deserved praise. Come to think of it, so will New England if they pull of a fourth Brady-Belichick championship. It's also crazy to think that pair could end up losing as many Super Bowls as they won. Either way, greatness is at stake on Sunday, even if both teams make me sick.
APC's Official Super Bowl Picks
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