Super Bowl XLIX Prediction: New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick (R) and Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll attend a joint press conference prior to the upcoming Super Bowl XLIX on January 30, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. (January 29, 2015, Source: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images North America)

In a few hours Super Bowl XLIX between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks will kick off. The arguably best teams from the AFC and NFC will be battling it out for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

The New England Patriots reached the NFL Final by winning the AFC East and beating the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs. They won 5 of their last 6 games, including postseason, and only lost to the Buffalo Bills in week 17 which had no bearing on their top seeding in the playoffs.

The Seattle Seahawks got to the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year by winning the NFC West and defeating the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers in the previous playoff rounds. Including postseason the Seahawks are on an 8-game winning streak.

Super Bowl 49 is most difficult to predict as both teams are pretty evenly matched. There are many reasons why the Patriots can win and there are just as many reasons why the Seahawks can come out victorious. But I have to pick a winner, right? Here is:

Why the New England Patriots will win

It is hard to stop Seattle’s RB Marshawn Lynch. The Patriots won’t be able to but they will not allow him to break away and gain a massive amount of yards. They will also be ready for a scrambling QB Russell Wilson.

New England’s defensive backs match up well with Seattle’s receivers. Wilson needs to be accurate or the turnover battle goes New England’s way real fast.

The Patriots will find ways to utilize TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Julian Edelman and WR Brandon LaFell efficiently.

RB LeGarrette Blount will be productive enough in the running game to keep New England’s offense two-dimensional throughout.

Two weeks is a very long time for HC Bill Belichick to come up with a great game plan. Expect the Patriots to be extremely well prepared. Who knows, they might even know the plays the Seahawks are going to call.

The Patriots are always at their best when the media – and everyone else for that matter– has a go at them. Expect “Deflate Gate” to be an additional motivational tool for the Patriots. They will come out with a vengeance.

Super Bowl Predictions from former NFL Players

49ers WR Tai Streets gets a lift from Derrick Deese after scoring a touchdown. (AP)

In the week leading to the Super Bowl I asked former NFL players to predict the outcome of the game and why they believe the New England Patriots or Seattle Seahawks will win. Here are their picks:

Terrence Metcalf (former guard with the Chicago Bears): "I'm going with the Seattle Seahawks this year. Russell Wilson made every mistake he could, yet he still found a way to beat The Green Bay Packers. The Seahawks have the best running back in the NFL in Marshawn Lynch. He has speed, power and great vision at the line of scrimmage. To an offensive lineman, that just adds gravy to the run game.

I believe New England, with Brady running the show will make plays on offense, but they're going to have problems with Seattle’s defense. With Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor in the defensive backfield the receivers for the Patriots will have problems. Micheal Bennett and Cliff Avril will get pressure on Brady. Bennett knows how to get skinny and plug the gaps in the run game as well as pass rush. So, let's Go Seahawks!!"

Derrick Deese (former left tackle and Super Bowl Champion with the San Francisco 49ers): “I'm gong with the Seattle Seahawks. They seem to have a team that just doesn't care about anything but each other. Nothing seems to get in the way on or off the field that stops them from reaching their goal. A young team but a young team that plays like a veteran team should play. Pete [Carroll] has done a great job with his staff and team.”

Jorge Diaz (former offensive lineman with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers): "I think we have a match up of two of the best teams in the NFL in this Super Bowl. We have two great quarterbacks, one looking to cement his legacy and another who is trying to create his own. When you look closer at these two teams there is one thing that stands out that clearly separates one from the other and that is Seattle's defense. They are battle tested against the league’s best and the job they have done on [Peyton] Manning, [Aaron] Rodgers , [Drew] Brees and [Tom] Brady in the past makes me believe that the reason why they will repeat as Super Bowl champions is because of that defense!"

Reggie Givens (former linebacker and special teams captain with the San Francisco 49ers): “The game is broken up into 3 phases: Offense, Defense and Special Teams.

Offensively, [Tom] Brady & [Russell] Wilson will cancel each other out. Brady will have more passing yards while Wilson and [Marshawn] Lynch will control the game with their legs.

Defensively, New England will keep the game close by allowing the Seahawks to mostly fields goals. However, Seattle will win this phase with better overall tackling, pressure on Brady and being the more physical team.

Special Teams will ultimately decide the game. The Patriots are not strong with their returns and tend to give up extra yards with the cover teams. Seattle has better tacklers and is solid in all areas.

Conclusion: Both teams are not going to light up the scoreboard but in the end Seattle’s Defense & Special Teams will prove to be too much for New England and Tom Brady to overcome.

Final Score: Seahawks 19 Patriots 13"

Evan Moore (former tight end with the Cleveland Browns): “The New England Patriots always seem to respond well when in the midst of controversy. Pats win 27-23.”

Willie Williams (former cornerback and Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers): “It's going to be a great football game. It's going to be interesting how New England handles the Deflate Gate issues. Seattle wins. Love the defense.”

Hillary Butler (former linebacker with the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos): “This year's easy! No Butler Bowl [Seattle vs Denver]. Seahawks all day. Defense wins championships! Last year's #1 defense is better this season. Look for [Tom} Brady to have his balls deflated, as we go back-to-back!

Tony Bouie (former safety with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers): “Seattle. After the collapse of Green Bay and the trouble the Patriots are in with "Deflate Gate", it looks like the Hawks are in for another Super Bowl win.”

Tom McManus (former linebacker with the Jacksonville Jaguars): "I hope the New England Patriots kick the c*** out of 'em [Seattle Seahawks]. Then they can tell all who said they were cheaters to kiss their a**. Patriots win 38-28."

NFL – AFC Championship Preview – Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots

Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots passes the ball during the first quarter of the 2014 AFC Divisional Playoffs game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (January 9, 2015, Source: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America)

The New England Patriots (13-4) reached the Conference Championship Game after a 35-31 win over the Baltimore Ravens in last week’s playoff game. The Patriots have won 4 of their last 5 games, including playoffs. Their only home loss this season came against the Buffalo Bills in week 17 in a more or less meaningless game.

The Indianapolis Colts (13-5) made it to the penultimate playoff round with two convincing wins over the Cincinnati Bengals and at the Denver Broncos. The Colts won 7 of their last 8 games, including playoffs and were 5-3 on the road in the regular season

Both teams met in week 11, with the New England Patriots winning 42-20 at Indianapolis.

Why the New England Patriots will win

Last week QB Tom Brady had to take matters into his own hands because of an early 14-point deficit. He will be tempted to test how healthy Indianapolis’ CB Greg Toler (groin) and CB Vontae Davis (knee) are but it’s the running game that will set up New England’s passing offense.

Indianapolis’ QB Andrew Luck will struggle unless he is extremely aware and accurate. New England’s pass defense will have the right answers.

New England’s run defense will be able to contain RB Dan “Boom” Herron and force Andrew Luck to win it for the Colts.

Essentially, New England’s receivers will be too much to handle for Indianapolis’ cornerbacks.

NFL – NFC Championship Preview – Green Bay Packers @ Seattle Seahawks

Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks in action against the Carolina Panthers during the 2015 NFC Divisional Playoff game at CenturyLink Field on January 10, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. (January 9, 2015, Source: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images North America)

The Seattle Seahawks (13-4) advanced to the Conference Championship Game by beating the Carolina Panthers 31-17 last week. The reigning Super Bowl champions have won their last 7 games and have an 8-1 record at home this season, including playoffs.

The Green Bay Packers (13-4) defeated the Dallas Cowboys 26-21 last week to qualify for the NFC Final at Seattle. The Packers won 8 of their last 9 games, including playoffs, but had their struggles on the road, losing 4 games in the regular season.

Both teams met in the season opener, with the Seattle Seahawks winning 36-16 at CenturyLink Field.

Why the Seattle Seahawks will win

QB Russell Wilson will cause enough problems for the Packers secondary. He will punish them with passing plays if the Packers focus too much on stopping the run.

The Packers will be somewhat able to contain RB Marshawn Lynch and a scrambling Wilson but it won’t be enough to stop either of them from being efficient. Seattle’s offense will remain two-dimensional throughout.

Seattle’s defense, however, will be able to create constant problems for Green Bay’s offense, be it on the ground or in the passing game. All the more so since QB Aaron Rodgers (calf) and RB Eddie Lacy (knee) have minor injury issues.

The battle in the trenches will go Seattle’s way on both sides of the ball.

NFL Wildcard Playoffs Preview – Detroit Lions @ Dallas Cowboys

running back DeMarco Murray #29 of the Dallas Cowboys runs with the ball in the first quarter during a NFL football game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on December 28, 2014 in Landover. Maryland. (December 27, 2014, Source: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images North America)

The Dallas Cowboys (12-4) reached the playoffs by winning the NFC East and becoming the number 3 seed. They are on a four-game winning streak and won six of their last seven games. Strangely enough, they were only .500 at home this season.

The Detroit Lions (11-5) reached the playoffs as the number 6 seed. They were on a four-game winning streak before they had to surrender the NFC North crown to the Green Bay Packers in week 17. The Lions lost four of their eight road games this season.

Why the Dallas Cowboys will win

The Detroit Lions will not be able to stop RB DeMarco Murray and therefore enabling Dallas’ offense to become balanced and two-dimensional.

I also believe that the Dallas Cowboys will win the battle in the trenches, which will be essential for success. Effective run blocking will take the pressure of QB Tony Romo and keeps Detroit’s defense on its toes.