Super Bowl Strategies
SUPER BOWL XLIX IS NOW JUST DAYS AWAY AND SO WE DIG INTO WHAT COULD BE KEY FACTORS/STRATEGIES
THE NBA THURSDAY NITE TNT MENU: IT'S NUGGETS-GRIZZLIES & BULLS-LAKERS, AND WE'VE GOT THE QUICK-HITTER GAME PREVIEWS
Have you noticed the pattern in this year's NFL post-season?
Each/every week of these playoffs an NFC team - that's Detroit, then Dallas and then Green Bay - lost in ultra-excruciating fashion and so now you've got to wonder if the "script" here in Super Bowl XLIX is gonna mean another NFC team gets beaten in a most painful way?
Hey, the Seattle Seahawks sure hope that isn't the case, of course, as they wish to make their own bit of history while shooting to become the ninth team (and eighth different franchise) to stack together back-to-back Super Bowl wins.
In this Jim Sez column space one year ago, we asked whether "the Seattle Seahawks (are) gonna hunker down on "D" and give the wild fans in the great northwest their first-ever Super Bowl crown?" Guess we all got our answer to that one, right?
Well, now we're finally just a mere few days away from finding out what gives in the final football game this season and let's just say come Super Bowl time you often do expect the unexpected ... after all, who expected 43-to-8 last year Seahawks over the hapless Denver Broncos!
In today's Jim Sez Super Bowl-flavored column we wanted to dig a little bit deeper into some of the key factors and game strategies here for SB XLIX and so let's have at it with a reminder that our extensive and in-depth game preview comes your way in tomorrow's Jim Sez!
THE SUPER BOWL XLIX REPORT - KEY FACTORS/STRATEGIES
1 - WHICH OFFENSE IS MORE LIKELY TO DEVIATE FROM ITS USUAL PLAN OF ATTACK?
Let's face it ...The New England Patriots want to put the ball in the air 40-plus times a game (averaging 43 pass attempts in the two playoff games) while the Seattle Seahawks favor that ground game that would love to get RB Marshawn Lynch and QB Russell Wilson some 30 carries between 'em but the NFC champs are not averse to having Wilson chuck it deep as those back-to-back 35-yard passing plays that capped the 28-22 overtime win against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game proved the third-year slinger can play the aerial game very well.
But check this out: The Patriots are not "married" to any sort of ground game even though sledgehammer RB LeGarrette Blount did rush for 148 yards and three scores in that 45-7 runaway win against Indianapolis in the AFC Championship Game but, if the Pats experience some success rushing against this staunch Seattle defense, then you could see more of a balance here for QB Tom Brady and Company. Did you know the Patriots have thrown for seven TDs in this year's post-season (six by Brady and that 51-yarder by WR Julian Edelman against Baltimore) while the Seahawks have lost just one fumble on 63 rushes this post-season? Again, both teams will go to their strengths here but field position, the game score or some other factor(s) could have 'em opting to shift around the usual plan of attack.
2 - WHAT HAPPENS IF EITHER TEAM GETS BEHIND BY TWO (OR MORE) SCORES?
Last year in this very column space we mentioned that If Denver got behind by double-digit points than it would be interesting to see if the Broncos would have QB Peyton Manning chuck it time after time and thus abandon a ground game that featured RBs Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball - that's exactly what happened and it played right into the Seahawks' hands as the Broncos were down 8-0 after the first quarter and 22-0 at halftime and wound up rushing the ball only 14 times in all for 27 yards.
Here, we'd expect less "panic" from the Patriots if they happen to dig themselves a 10-0 or 14-0 type deficit - again, remember New England did overcome a pair of 14-point deficits to beat Baltimore in an AFC Divisional Playoff game a few weeks back -- and just the demeanor of Brady would be a plus for Bill Belichick's club if down early.
On the flip side, we would not expect any panic from the Seahawks either - after all Pete Carroll's crew trailed Green Bay 19-7 with four minutes to in the aforementioned NFC Championship Game and stormed back - but, again, it's the 'Hawks that would be moving away from its usual offensive game plan if forced to play catch-up here.
3 - WHO ARE SOME OF THE OFF-THE-RADAR PLAYERS THAT COULD BE MAJOR DIFF-MAKERS HERE?
Here's our short list:
NEW ENGLAND - Call it conventional thinking, if you will, but we believe Brady will have to throw for 300-plus yards, TE Rob Gronkowski will need 100-yard-or-so receiving game here and those in-cut slant pattern throws to WR Edelman must gain meaningful yardage here and so we'll look towards the Patriots' defense to provide "diff-makers" here:
SS Patrick Chung is a big-time hitter who made a monstrous play in the playoff win against Baltimore as he batted a potential TD pass away from Ravens' TE Owen Daniel and note Chung has seven solo tackles this post-season. Here, he must wrap up WRs Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse before they get too much YAC.
DE Rob Ninkovich (nine total tackles this post-season) is always a wild card in Belichick's varied defensive schemes and here we could well see 'em play "spy" against QB Wilson and we also could see Ninkovich drop back in coverage and be a key factor in short pass plays when RB Lynch and/or TE/WR Luke Willson go out on routes.
SEATTLE - The Seahawks' defense goes along with the philosophy that the sum-is-greater-than-all-its-parts and so everyone must be healthy here for this stop unit but let's take a moment to single out one defensive key/one offensive key here:
CB Byron Maxwell missed a chunk of Seattle's NFC Divisional Playoff win against Carolina and the result was the Panthers went after (but not as much as they should have!) backup CB Tharold Simon and so keeping Maxwell on the field for close to 100 percent of Seattle's defensive plays is key. It'll be interesting to see if Maxwell's size - he's 6-foot-1, 210 pounds - makes him a menacing force against New England's smaller wide outs.
RB Robert Turbin -- We've been spreading the word all week long that Turbin (9 carries for 27 yards this post-season) could be a major X-factor here because he can turn the corner and make big gainers and is also dangerous out of the backfield catching Wilson quick-hitter/screens. Don't at all be surprised if he gets 10 touches in SB 49.
Jim Hurley will have the Sides & Totals Winners of Super Bowl XLVIX when you check with us on game-day morning plus go ahead and continue to pile up the profits all this week with loads of NBA and NCAA Basketball winners right here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - go ahead and score big today!
THE NBA REPORT
Here's the TNT lineup on this final Thursday of the month:
DENVER (18-27) at MEMPHIS (33-12) - 8:05 p.m. ET, TNT
Hey, can you imagine playing .733 ball and you're not even the best team in your conference? Well, that's the deal with the here-and-now Memphis Grizzlies who continue their chase of the Golden State Warriors for the top spot in the NBA's Western Conference but let's put things into perspective here: The Grizz are a dazzling 19-5 SU (straight-up) at home and 19-7 SU versus fellow Western Conference foes and here get a little extra rest as compared to the Nuggets who played at New Orleans last night and figure to have hands full dealing with the one-two front-court tandem of C Marc Gasol (team-leading 18.9 ppg) and F Zach Randolph (team-best 11.9 rpg).
Key for the Nuggets if they're gonna steal this one as heavy-duty underdogs? Get PG Ty Lawson out on the fast break and beat Memphis PG Mike Conley (team-high 5.6 apg) down the floor for some gimme hoops.
CHICAGO (30-17) at LOS ANGLES LAKERS (12-34) - 10:35 p.m. ET, TNT
The first stop of Chicago's current six-game road swing proved to be the best win of the year for the Bulls as Tom Thibodeau's team topped Golden State 113-111 in overtime this past Tuesday night - the fall-back jumper by PG Derrick Rose with just seven seconds left in OT capped his electric 30-point night. Now, the Bulls go from being an 11.5-point underdog in that tilt to being a hefty road favorite here against the Kobe Bryant-less Lakers - maybe the most obscure Lakers team in the past 50 years (go ahead and name their starting lineup ... can't do it, right?). Hey, don't sleep on the Bulls' bench as Chicago's reserves registered a whopping 34 points in Oakland the other night and a tip-of-the-cap to F Nikola Mirotic (12 points and 7 rebounds in 31 minutes against the Warriors).
Note: Make sure you catch our Super Bowl Preview in tomorrow's column.
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