Marshawn Lynch powers the Seattle ground game. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Marshawn Lynch powers the Seattle ground game. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Here are five things you have to know about the Seahawks, who will face the Patriots Sunday night in Super Bowl XLIX:

When it comes to their offense, their success starts on the ground.

The Seahawks offense has many powerful assets, but at its heart is the ground game, namely Marshawn Lynch. The Cal product has tremendous the last few seasons, and finished the regular season with 1,306 yards on 280 carries, with a career best 13 touchdowns and a whopping 4.7 yards per carry. The 5-foot-11, 215-pounder is nearly impossible to bring down in a one-on-one setting. That means the Patriots ‘€” whose attitude is always to try and take away the No. 1 offensive option on the other team –€” will likely load up, bringing a safety down into the box. Bottom line? They want to try and slow down Lynch by any means necessary. In a perfect world, if you’€™re the Patriots, that means they’€™ll try and force the Seahawks to throw as much as possible against a secondary that probably won’€™t be getting a lot of help. New England has to trust that their defensive backs –€” namely Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington, as well as Devin McCourty, who will likely play the role of single-high safety for most of the game –€” will be able to operate with minimal help, namely in one-on-one coverage against the likes of Doug Baldwin (team-high 66 catches for 825 yards and 3 TDs) and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (38 catches, 537 yards, 1 TDs). While Wilson has produced terrific numbers over the course of his career as a pro (including a 63 percent completion rate, 3,475 yards and 20 touchdowns this season) he’€™s occasionally been vulnerable when the game has been placed in his hands. He redeemed himself late after throwing some bad balls early in the NFC title game against the Packers.

Russell Wilson is the best pure running quarterback the Patriots will have faced this season.

The Seahawks have great success up front when it comes to Wilson and his ability to operate as an option in their zone-based running game, which has developed into a nice complement to Lynch in the run game. You have to load up up front to stop Lynch, but you also have to be mindful of Wilson’€™s ability as an extra running back as well. Wilson was the second leading rusher on the team behind Lynch with 849 yards and an average of 7.2 yards per carry. (He led all quarterbacks in rushing yards, and was actually 16th in the league.) He can gash you with the run –€” it’€™s absolutely vital the Patriots defensive front maintains gap disciple and contain on the likes of Wilson. One tactic is to employ a spy — a defender whose responsibility it is to keep his eyes on Wilson and not let him break free if he decides to fake the handoff to Lynch. That might be defensive end Rob Ninkovich ‘€” who did it last year against Cam Newton ‘€” as well as linebacker Jamie Collins.

There are some matchup advantages that could be exploited by the Patriots.

The Patriots will likely have a couple of opportunities in the passing game, namely tight end Rob Gronkowski. In the same way that New England will likely make Lynch it’€™s No. 1 focus on defense, Seattle will try and do the same when it comes to Gronkowski. According to Football Outsiders, one of the Seahawks’€™ two biggest defensive vulnerabilities in the passing game is against tight ends, where they are 18th in the league. Seattle has done well to limit some big time tight ends like Julius Thomas and Greg Olsen. But where opposing teams have done well with tight ends is finding holes in Seattle’€™s Cover 3 ‘€” specifically, the middle of the field. (Antonio Gates had three touchdowns in a win over the Seahawks earlier in the season.) If Gronk is lined up in the slot or flush against a tackle, look for him to draw some combo coverage that includes the likes of Kam Chancellor or Earl Thomas, as well as linebacker Bobby Wagner or KJ Wright. One other thing — when he’€™s split wide, look for a potential matchup against Richard Sherman or Byron Maxwell. The other guy who might be able to achieve some matchup advantages is running back Shane Vereen. One of the only five backs in the league this year who had at least 50 catches and 50 carries, his speed and shiftiness can be a nightmare for opposing defenses. Look for the Patriots to try plenty of presnap movement in hopes of getting Vereen matched up against a slower linebacker, or just getting him in space against a bigger defender. (The Seahawks are also 18th in the league in defending running backs in the passing game.)

They are very physical on both sides of the ball.

There’€™s no way to quantify this, but Seattle is one of the most physical teams the Patriots will have faced over the last few years. On offense, Lynch is as physical a runner as New England will have met, and while the Patriots have done well limiting his total yardage (in five career games against New England, Lynch has averaged 14 carries and 53 yards per contest –€” he’€™s 1-4 lifetime against the Patriots), he’€™s the sort of runner who can wear down an opposing offensive line. He runs hard behind an offensive line that employs a zone-blocking scheme, and while they don’€™t do as much cut blocking as the Ravens, it can still make it very difficult to defend. On the other side of the ball, the Seattle secondary is as physical as they come, and the Seahawks defensive backs will likely look to be as physical as possible with the New England pass catchers on Sunday, looking to get their hands on opposing receivers (especially smallish targets like Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola) and disrupt their timing routes. Press coverage is their favored style, and while they will take more than their share of flags (Seattle led the league in penalties this season with 130 –€” the second straight year the Seahawks had the most penalties in the NFL), it’€™s a process that has paid dividends.

They are middle of the pack when it comes to special teams, but are capable of being sneaky.

Football Outsiders had them 17th overall when it came to special teams, and on the surface, they’€™re a fairly unremarkable group. After Percy Harvin left, Paul Richardson became their No. 1 kick returner, and he finished the year with 16 returns for 23.5 yards per opportunity, with a long of 47 yards. (He doesn’€™t have enough opportunities to appear among the league leaders, but his average places him 56th overall.) The Seahawks tried a few different guys as punt returners, but appear to have settled on wide receiver Bryan Walters, whose 7.7 average yards per return is 17th in the league. Bay State native Steven Hauschka was 18th in the league, going 31-for-37 (83.8 percent) on the season when it came to field goals, and punter Jon Ryan was 26th in the league in net average (38.3 yards per punt). Ryan has dropped 28 of his 61 punts inside the 20-yard line, and had one punt blocked on the season. The Seahawks are not above a little special-teams trickery –€” they executed a perfect fake field goal in the NFC championship game against the Packers that ended up going for a touchdown when Ryan found backup offensive lineman Garry Gilliam for a big score. In addition, they came through with an impressive onsides kick late in the same game, their first of the year. And Chancellor twice leaped over the Carolina offensive line in their divisional playoff game in hopes of trying to block and field-goal attempt.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

PHOENIX – In those fleeting moments when we've torn ourselves from PSI: Foxboro long enough to ponder the actual Super Bowl 49 matchup between the Patriots and Seahawks, here's the question I can't shake: how will Seattle score?



PHOENIX — It wouldn’t be an interview with Tom Brady the week after the AFC championship game without a few Deflategate questions.

Tom Brady answered questions for over 30 minutes on Thursday. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Tom Brady answered questions for over 30 minutes on Thursday. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — It wouldn’t be an interview with Tom Brady the week after the AFC championship game without a few Deflategate questions.

Appearing on ESPN during halftime of the Pro Bowl, Brady confirmed again the NFL hasn’t reached out to him, and he believes they will following the Super Bowl.

“No, no. I believe they’re going to do after the season, so we’ll deal with it after this game,” Brady said.

The quarterback doesn’t believe this has distracted the team in any way, as even with all the attention on the team last week, the team remained focused on the task at hand, which is the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX.

“I certainly hope not,” said Brady. “I think we’re a pretty mentally tough team, and I think we’ve dealt with other things in the past,” Brady said. “I think coach [Bill Belichick] has always said ‘ignore the noise’ and we have to focus on the task at hand, which is a great Seahawks team. I’m excited to play in another Super Bowl. You don’t get many of these opportunities in your life. … We finished our last practice [Sunday] here in Foxboro and we head out [Monday] to Phoenix, so it will be good to get there and get into the week. I think we feel good about where we’re at.”

The Patriots will hold a Super Bowl send-off Monday afternoon at City Hall Plaza, before departing for Arizona. The team will have their first availability in Arizona late Monday night.

“I think everybody’s locked in, ready to go for this Super Bowl,” said Brady. “It’s a great opportunity for us, you know, and our guys have worked really hard so, hopefully we can go out there and play our best on Sunday.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

PHOENIX — The Seahawks wasted no time calling out the Patriots, as at their first availability in Arizona, Richard Sherman called out Robert Kraft when it comes to the Patriots’ possible discipline for Delfategate.

Robert Kraft

Robert Kraft

PHOENIX — The Seahawks wasted no time calling out the Patriots, as at their first availability in Arizona, Richard Sherman called out Robert Kraft when it comes to the Patriots’ possibly being disciplined for Delfategate.

“Will they be punished? Probably not,” Sherman said. “Not as long as Robert Kraft and Roger Goodell are still taking pictures at their respective homes. I think it was just at Kraft’€™s house last week before the AFC Championship, you know. Talk about conflict of interest.’€

Kraft supported Goodell in wake of the Ray Rice situation earlier this year, and has been a long time supporter of the commissioner.

Sherman said the events in New England this past week haven’t impacted the Seahawks’ view of the Patriots at all.

‘€œIt was indifferent. It doesn’€™t really affect us at all,” said Sherman. “It wasn’€™t like we cared either way, honestly. It didn’€™t really affect us either way.’€

As for his injured elbow, Sherman says he will be good to go come next Sunday.

‘€œIt’€™s getting better. I had a good week of practice so it should be good,” he said.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Julian Edelman (left) is looking to connect with Tom Brady often in the Super Bowl. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Julian Edelman (left) is looking to connect with Tom Brady often in the Super Bowl. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Julian Edelman is more than aware of the challenge ahead of him.

One of the best timing route receivers in the league has to find a way to get open against arguably the most physical secondary in football on the game’s biggest stage. Edelman hasn’t played against Seattle since 2012, when the “Legion of Boom” was coming into its own.

Cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Richard Sherman and safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas present the biggest challenge Edelman has seen as a starting slot receiver in the NFL.

“They’€™re a little different because they’€™re all big,” Edelman said. “They’€™re all big, strong, ferocious players. They play in their scheme. They’€™re well coached. They play hard. We certainly have some guys that are big, but this a completely different group and like you said, I’€™ve never played against them. [We’€™ve] got to take these next few days [to] prepare [and] get ready for them and try to bring out the ‘A’ game.”

How does Edelman feel about the progress in the game plan so far?

“I feel good. Practice has had a high tempo; guys are focused,” Edelman said. “We still have a long way to go. We still have a few days out in Arizona to prepare so we’€™re going to try to take advantage of that. It’€™s been pretty good.”

This is Edelman’s second Super Bowl experience. Three years ago, Wes Welker had his job before leaving for Denver. Edelman was returning kicks and playing on special teams. He returned three kicks for 73 yards, including a 31-yarder. What did the experience in Super Bowl XLVI teach him about the crazy week leading up to the game?

“Just all the scheduling of everything, definitely being at one has helped,” Edelman said. “It’€™s always a little different every year I guess. I’€™m a little more familiar with what you’€™ve got going on when you’€™re there [and] being able to ignore a bunch of distractions and all that kind of stuff. It really is a business trip for us. [I’€™m] looking forward to that.”

Edelman made it clear that he’s anxious to get out to Arizona and take the game prep to the next level.

“Definitely. You’€™re anxious to get out there and kind of feel your surroundings, see what you’€™re going to be working with that week as far as facility, the meeting rooms,” Edelman said. “[You] don’€™t have to worry about anything else. You should have all your off-the-field stuff taken care of. You’€™re definitely anxious to get out there and start the preparing process out there. It’€™ll be nice to be in some 70-degree weather. That’€™s always nice. [We’€™ll] go out there and try to win the last game.

“Anytime you go to a Super Bowl it’€™s pretty exciting so I don’€™t know. I was really excited last time, I’€™m excited this time. Probably a little more focused this time as far as knowing what you have to do out there, knowing what’€™s going on ‘€“ experiencing all that kind of stuff. That’€™s how I feel about that question I guess.”

Here are some other takeaways from media availability Sunday with Edelman:

Q: Were you aware of the science projects Coach Belichick was working on the last few days? How do you feel about him putting an end to it?

JE: I wasn’€™t. Coach [has] always got his own thing going and I’€™ve moved on to Seattle last Sunday so that’€™s how I feel about that whole thing.

Q: Could you ever imagine hearing about him standing up and quoting ‘€œMy Cousin Vinny’€ and talking science instead of football?

JE: No, I guess I couldn’€™t have imagined that. He’€™s a pretty smart guy though.

Q: You’€™re Throwback Thursday video Growing Pains ‘€“

JE: Growing Pats.

Q: Growing Pats, based off of ‘€œGrowing Pains,’€ can you explain how you came up with that video? Do you work on videos like that often?

JE: I’€™ve got an unbelievable team that I work with ‘€“ with Super Digital [and] Assaf Swissa. He’€™ll bounce ideas off of me and I’€™ll bounce ideas off of him. That’€™s usually how those things get created, just through old stuff that you grew up watching or you grew up doing. We try to incorporate that to kind of interact with the people that follow you. It was cool, but now we’€™re on to Seattle.

Q: At Coach Bill Belichick‘€™s press conference yesterday he was passionate and even emotional when he was talking about what you guys accomplished this season. How did that make you guys feel?

JE: It’€™s always nice to hear your coach talk with that amount of passion and pride about our unit. We still have other things to accomplish. We could talk about how Coach felt and all of that stuff after this week because it doesn’€™t really mean anything unless you go out and you finish it.

Q: This is your second Super Bowl appearance, but is this something when you were growing up as a kid you dreamt about?

JE: Definitely ‘€“ [for] any kid who played Pop Warner or high school football, this is the ultimate stage. This is when, like you said, when you’€™re 12 years old, you used to dream about getting this opportunity to go out and play against a really good opponent who’€™s the defending Super Bowl champs. It doesn’€™t get any better than that.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Before taking off for Arizona on Monday for the Super Bowl, Tom Brady did a little social networking Sunday.

The Patriots embattled quarterback put out a call on Facebook, via a produced video, to rally Patriots fans around the organization.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

In their final Foxboro practice of the year and their last before departing for Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona, the Patriots had perfect attendance Sunday, according to multiple reports.

Bryan Stork (center) raises his leg during warmups, prior to Thursday's Patriots practice. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Bryan Stork (center) raises his leg during warmups, prior to Thursday’s Patriots practice. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

In their final Foxboro practice of the year and their last before departing for Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona, the Patriots had perfect attendance Sunday, according to multiple reports.

For a fourth straight day, the Patriots held their practice inside Dana-Farber Fieldhouse Sunday as they try to simulate game conditions inside University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale next Sunday.

The Patriots had a full pads practice on Thursday, followed by a walkthrough on Friday and a pair of sweats and shells practice on Saturday and Sunday.

The Patriots officially listed six as questionable in Friday’s projected injury report, including rookie center Bryan Stork, who injured his knee in the divisional win over the Ravens. His continued participation in practice is a good sign that he will be ready to play in the Super Bowl.

Sunday’s practice was the 65th and final one of the season on their Foxboro campus. The next big event for the Patriots is Monday’s send-off rally at 11 a.m. at City Hall Plaza in Boston. The Patriots land in Arizona Monday afternoon and will be available to the media at that time.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia