Seattle's Russell Wilson (left) survived a four-interception game against Green Bay, but his ability to scramble is a huge advantage — 849 rushing yards, most among NFL quarterbacks, including eight runs of 20-plus yards. But Tom Brady had 33 touchdown passes to Wilson's 20 in the regular season — his experience in the postseason and Super Bowl gives him the edge in the game's biggest platform.
Seattle led the NFL in rushing with 172.6 yards per game, and Marshawn Lynch (left) is coming off a season-high 157 against the Packers. New England got a big game from LeGarrette Blount vs. the Colts in the AFC title game, but the Pats average only 107.9 per game. That puts more of the offensive burden on Tom Brady against a stout defense.
A healthy Rob Gronkowski (right) has been huge (1,124 yards, 12 TDs) for New England, which got surprising production from WR Brandon LaFell (953, seven). Seattle's Jermaine Kearse (left) is a postseason gamer — five TDs in 37 career regular-season games, but four in his past four playoff games.
Tough call here, as Seattle's line has the league's No. 1 rushing offense, but Russell Wilson has been sacked 42 times, 16 more than the Patriots allowed. That's despite New England trading Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins to the Bucs. Center Bryan Stork (FSU) can't play like a rookie against Seattle's defense.
Another close one — Patriots have the edge in regular-season sacks, 40-37, with Rob Ninkovich leading the way with eight. They have none in the playoffs, but New England should be able to get to Russell Wilson despite his elusiveness. Former Buc Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril lead a Seattle line that's not far behind.
Such an underappreciated position for both teams, who have youth and talent. Pro Bowl player Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright are 24 and 25, respectively for Seattle, just as Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins are 24 and 25 for New England. A slight edge to Seattle, though the New England group is better at blitzing for a sack.
Cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman are greats — Seattle's secondary is the center of the team's success, and Kam Chancellor (who bruised a knee in Friday's practice but will play) is a star. Add Earl Thomas and it's a real challenge for Tom Brady. Could this be safety Devin McCourty's final game as a Patriot? The free agent will be highly coveted in March.
Stephen Gostkowski hit a league-high 35 field goals, though Stephen Hauschka matched the league's longest kick at 58 yards. The Patriots, with Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, are far more dangerous on returns — Seattle ranked 30th in kickoff returns, 25th on punt returns.
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Nearly opposite in their demeanor, Bill Belichick (right) and Pete Carroll have made their teams consistent playoff threats, with shrewd front-office work to load up talent on both rosters. Who gets the edge in game-day strategy? Carroll can shift the perception of the league's greatest mind his direction with a win, but for now, it goes to Belichick.