Patriots Vs. Seahawks: A Statistical Look At How The Super Bowl Teams Stack Up
With Super Bowl XLIX fast approaching, the New England Patriots are eyeing their fourth championship since the turn of the century. The Seattle Seahawks, meanwhile, are looking to win back-to-back titles.
If Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman and Co. pull it off for Seattle, they'll be the first team to win two straight Super Bowls since, guess who, the Patriots in 2004 and 2005.
It's old school (the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick dynasty) against new school (third-year quarterback Wilson, ever-outspoken cornerback Richard Sherman and the defending champs). On paper, this matchup between two NFL juggernauts has the potential to go down as one of the greatest games of all time. The representatives for the AFC and NFC appear evenly matched, but they have a differing set of strengths and weaknesses.
As you can see, the Patriots were a far superior passing team when compared directly to the Seahawks throughout the 2014 season. Below is an interactive widget including all 32 NFL teams; you can hover over individual dots to find out which team is which:
New England finished 11th in the league with 4,291 passing yards. That was significantly more than Seattle, which finished with 3,492. Not surprisingly, the Pats also threw more touchdowns (34) than their Super Bowl opponents (20).
During the regular season, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski amassed 1,124 receiving yards to lead the team. Wide receivers Julian Edelman (972) and Brandon LaFell (953) also ranked within the top 30 for receiving yards.
Provided that Doug Baldwin was Seattle's leading receiver with 825 yards, it's no surprise that New England holds a hefty advantage in the passing game. Running the ball provides a different narrative, however.
While it's true that the Seahawks' passing offense leaves something to be desired, its running attack was the best in football by a huge margin in 2014. Just look at how much of an outlier Seattle is in the graph below (far right):
Seattle managed to distance itself from the second-place Dallas Cowboys by more than 400 rushing yards—an absolutely ridiculous figure. Meanwhile, the Patriots finished in the middle of the pack with 1,727 rush yards.
Enigmatic running back Marshawn Lynch deserves the bulk of the credit for the Seahawks' dominance on the ground. With that said, quarterback Russell Wilson pushed Seattle further and further away from the pack with his elite scrambling abilities.
Wilson finished the season with a career-high 849 rushing yards. That was tops among QBs by 210 yards (Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers was second). It also placed Wilson 16th in the entire NFL—ahead of running backs like Steven Jackson, Tre Mason and Jonathan Stewart.
He's a dynamic talent who can easily pick up first downs with his legs. That's something New England has to watch out for on Sunday.
As far as having a defense that can stop the run, both Seattle and New England excelled throughout 2014.
Both Super Bowl-bound teams finished within the top 10 at stifling opposing runners. The Pats were ninth by allowing 1,669 yards, while the Seahawks came in third by giving up just 1,304 yards on the ground.
One could argue that Seattle has a slight advantage with Pro Bowl linebacker Bobby Wagner in the mix, but really the advantage for the Seahawks is their ability to run on offense. Even though the Patriots have been solid at stopping the run, Lynch and Wilson cause plenty of matchup problems.
Seattle's talented secondary doesn't have one of the best nicknames in sports by accident.
The “Legion of Boom” dominated opposing quarterbacks throughout 2014, ultimately allowing the fewest passing yards against (2,970). The Seahawks were the only team that allowed fewer than 3,000 yards through the air. The second-place Kansas City Chiefs were nearly 300 yards behind (3,252).
By comparison, the Patriots finished 17th in the NFL by surrendering 3,837 pass yards.
Additionally, the Seahawks had three Pro Bowlers in the secondary: Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. The Pats only had one: cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Both Sherman (left elbow) and Thomas (left shoulder) suffered injuries in the NFC Championship, though, so there's reason to believe they won't be at full strength. If that's the case, New England may take advantage of a window of opportunity. Until proven otherwise, however, Seattle's secondary remains the best in the business by a comfortable margin—even if they do have to face a guy like Brady.
As FindTheBest's Will Laws broke down in his Super Bowl player comparisons article, both kickers in this matchup have essentially identical postseason numbers. Patriots' kicker Stephen Gostkowski is 20-for-22 on field goal tries in his playoff career and hasn't missed a postseason attempt since 2009. Seahawks' kicker Steven Hauschka is a perfect 12-for-12 in his playoff career (spanning the last three seasons).
If we're strictly breaking down postseason chops, these two guys are dead even. Add in 2014 regular season numbers, and an ever-so-slight advantage creeps in.
Gostkowski drilled 94.6 percent of his field goals, while Hauschka hit them at an 83.8-percent clip.
That's not super significant, but when you add in perennial Pro Bowl special-teamer Matthew Slater on the Pats (who has made the Pro Bowl roster in four straight seasons), New England gets the square.
Will Seattle's elite defense and rushing attack guide them to a second straight Super Bowl victory? Or will New England's special-teams prowess and Brady's poise in the pocket tip the scales back in the Patriots' favor?
Regardless of the outcome, this matchup has all the makings of a thoroughly entertaining game.
The post Patriots vs. Seahawks: See How the Super Bowl Teams Stack Up appeared first on FindTheBest: The Official Blog.
The following article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.