Super Bowl XLIX Picks and Predictions From WhatIfSports.com image

Super Bowl XLIX Preview and Prediction

Will the New England Patriots or Seattle Seahawks win Super Bowl XLIX?

WhatIfSports.com
January 20, 2015

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Super Bowl XLIX: Patriots vs. Seahawks

The Super Bowl is a familiar stage for both the Seahawks and Patriots. Seattle is - of course - the defending champions, crushing the Broncos 43-8 last February. New England is Super Bowl-bound for the sixth time during the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era. However, it's been 10 years since the Patriots last hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, coming up short in their last two Super Bowl appearances.

After a 3-3 start to the season, the Seahawks won nine of their last 10 regular-season games to finish 12-4 and earn the top seed in the NFC. On offense, the ground game led the way. Seattle's 172.6 rushing yards per game led the league - 25.5 more yards per game than Dallas (2nd). Marshawn Lynch compiled 1,306 rushing yards, fourth-most in the league. Russell Wilson wasn't too shabby either, totaling 849 yards on the ground, best among quarterbacks and 16th overall. But it's defense that defines Seattle. For the third year in a row, the Seahawks have surrendered the fewest points in the NFL. Their average of 267.1 total yards allowed per game is also a league-best, with no other team allowing fewer than 300 yards per game.

Super Bowl Replay
Select a score to simulate
Super Bowl XLVI: Giants 21 - Patriots 17
Super Bowl XLII: Giants 17 - Patriots 14
Super Bowl XL: Steelers 21 - Seahawks 10
Super Bowl XXXI: Packers 35 - Patriots 21
Super Bowl XX: Bears 46 - Patriots 10

It's not all sunshine and rainbows in the Emerald City though. The Seahawks have looked less-than-stellar in the postseason. Their 31-17 outcome against Carolina was not as comfortable as the final score would suggest, with Seattle leading just 14-10 heading into the fourth quarter. An NFC Championship win over Green Bay required not one miracle, but several. The Seahawks needed a touchdown off a field goal fake, an onside kick recovery and a moon ball two-point conversion just to send the game to overtime. And, oh yeah, winning the coin toss in OT didn't hurt either.

From a statistical standpoint, which drives WhatIfSports.com NFL simulation engine, the Seahawks have allowed 19.5 points, 334 total yards, 212 passing, and 133.5 rush yards per game in two playoff contests. By comparison, the Seahawks only allowed 81.5 rush yards per game during the regular season. Why does this matter? LeGarrette Blount is coming off one the best games of his career - albeit against the Colts' poor rush defense - 30 carries for 148 yards with three scores. If the Pats can create some semblance of a rushing attack against a banged up Seahawks defense, life in the pocket will be cozier for Brady.

Statistically, the Patriots claim some surprisingly middling measurements. Brady's sluggish start to the season (he averaged 197 passing yards with 4 TDs and 2 INTs in September) and a tangled rushing attack which lost Stevan Ridley to injury can be partly to blame. The Pats were ninth in passing yards per game, 18th in rushing yards per game, 17th in passing yards allowed and ninth in rushing yards allowed. Despite lackluster stat stuffing, the offense averaged 29.3 points per game.

Once again embracing their "bend, but do no break" mantra, the defense allowed 19.6 points per game during the regular season. The Patriots boasted an NFL-best +9.7 scoring differential during the regular season. The Patriots have also added to their NFL-best turnover margin of +12 this postseason as they carry a +3 through the first two games in addition to scoring 14 points off three Colts' turnovers in the AFC Championship game.

But who will emerge as the victors of Super Bowl XLIX? Using our NFL simulation engine, we played Seattle and New England 1,001 times to determine which team has the inside track. The computers like the Seahawks to win 53.3 percent of the time by an average score of 24-22.

Super Bowl XLIX: Patriots vs. Seahawks
MatchupWin%Avg ScoreWIS Interactive
New England Patriots46.722Boxscore
vs. Seattle Seahawks53.324Simulate Game

Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at rfowler@whatifsports.com.

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