Seattle vs. New England. Brady vs. Sherman. Revis vs. Wilson. We now know who will face off in Super Bowl 49, so let's take a look at the matchups that will help shape this year's Big Game.
The biggest question entering this year's Super Bowl is whether or not the Seahawks can rebound from a tough game. Of course, they had to win the NFC Championship to make the Super Bowl, but they also turned the ball over five times on Sunday (to Green Bay's two) and, for, say, three-and-a-half quarters, played bad offensively. Russell Wilson and co. will have to move the ball through the air for the Seahawks to have a chance against the Patriots, who allowed just six rushing touchdowns this regular season (tied for second-fewest in the NFL).
Two of Seattle's giveaways also gave Green Bay fantastic field position and helped the Packers take the ball to the Seahawks' one yard-line. Seattle's defense eventually held the Packers to a field goal on both of those drives, effectively winning them the game. But will a defense always be able to hold in such short yardage situations, especially with power runner LeGarrette Blount on the other side for the Patriots? My guess is no, and that's why Seattle needs to do a better job taking care of the ball when Super Bowl 49 kicks off in Glendale.
On the other side, New England has to move the ball, which will be no small task against this Seattle defense. They need to take advantage of whatever opportunities they get. Seattle's defenders covered the pass very well in the NFC Championship, and the Patriots need to convert all opportunities come Super Sunday. That means no dropped passes and no bad routes for the Patriots against a team that doesn't make very many mistakes defensively. Of course, there is a caveat: Don't count out the intelligence of Bill Belichick. Seattle will have two weeks to prepare for Belichick's "Who in the world is eligible now?" formations, but I wouldn't be too surprised if the New England coach comes up with something we've never seen before in an attempt to create confusion among the Seahawks' defense.
And, of course, there's a player you're likely to hear about a few thousand times in the coming weeks: Rob "Gronk" Gronkowski. Gronk matches up well against the Seahawks thanks to his incredible combination of size, speed, athleticism, and pass-catching abilities. He'll need to use all those traits to help the Patriots move the ball, though he could also help create opportunities for his teammates by catching a few passes early and drawing extra attention from the defense.
So it's all set. In two weeks, the Seahawks and Patriots match up in what will hopefully be a Super Bowl for the ages. Belichick vs. Carroll. The Pats' run defense vs. Lynch. Gronk vs. The Legion of Boom. Super Bowl 49. Let's see who emerges to lead his team to victory.
*Note: Statistics and play-by-play information used in this post came from ESPN.com.