By Doug Halberstadt
This is it, my final football prediction column for the 2014-2015 NFL season. After 17 weeks of regular-season action, followed by another three weeks of playoffs, we’re down to the final two teams vying for a Super Bowl championship.
The Seattle Seahawks are the defending champions and have earned the right to represent the NFC for the second consecutive year by winning a thrilling, come-from-behind, overtime game against the Green Bay Packers. They will be trying to join the seven other NFL franchises that have won back-to-back Super Bowls.
The 1966-67 Green Bay Packers were the first team to accomplish the feat. They were followed by the 1972-73 Miami Dolphins, the 1974-75 and 1978-79 Pittsburgh Steelers (the only team to accomplish this feat twice), the 1988-89 San Francisco 49ers, the 1992-93 Dallas Cowboys, and the 1997-98 Denver Broncos. The last team to win back-to-back championships is this year’s AFC representative, the New England Patriots. They won the Super Bowl in 2003 and again in 2004.
A couple of things these two teams have in common is great leadership on the sidelines and also on the field. Seattle’s head coach, Pete Carroll, and the Patriots’ head coach, Bill Belichick, are commonly thought of as two of the best coaches in the league. I doubt either one could win a fan popularity contest; they both share a certain “bad guy” persona at times.
Belichick has survived numerous cheating allegations, including illegally videotaping opponents and, just last week, the now infamous deflated balls scandal, “DeflateGate.”
Carroll left his head coaching job at USC just ahead of an NCAA investigation for rules violations. He’s also been accused of being cocky and, at times, being too nice or soft for the NFL. Ironically, Carroll was the Patriots’ head coach immediately prior to Belichick. Despite their detractors, both are probably destined to enter the Hall of Fame following their careers.
The same can be said for the two quarterbacks, Tom Brady for the Patriots and Russell Wilson for the Seahawks. Brady is a lock for Canton when he retires. Wilson is still young and several years away from retirement. If he’s able to continue at anywhere near his current pace, he’ll be guaranteed a spot in the shrine.
Two legendary coaches combined with two superstar quarterbacks should equal a very entertaining game. Both offenses are capable of scoring often and quickly. I think the difference in this game is going to come down to the defenses.
They can bend, but they can’t break. Yielding a field goal instead of a touchdown will be a victory for both teams. Which defensive unit will be more successful at keeping their opponent out of the end zone on a consistent basis?
I’m giving that edge to the Seahawks. The “Legion of Doom” defense prides themselves on shutting down high-scoring opponents. If they hope to collect another shiny, diamond-encrusted ring, they’ll have to do just that. I think they’ll answer the call and make it two in a row by edging out the Patriots, 29-27.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Jan. 28-Feb. 3, 2015, issue