These Patriots Better Than Those Broncos

If able to sift your way through the media hype regarding Deflategate, Marshawn Lynch's potential penalties, Jeremy Lane's thoughts on Rob Gronkowski and all of the other nonsense, you'll find that the individual matchups and conflicting strategies for the Seahawks and Patriots should result in a terrific championship game.

The euphoria of the Seahawks' miraculous comeback in the NFC Championship has some fans in Seattle thinking that a victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX will be a relative breeze.

Given the 45-7 dismantling of Indianapolis in the AFC Championship and the fact the Green Bay out-played Seattle for much of their game, many Patriots fans are just as confident that their beloved team is going to roll over Seattle.

The reality is that these clubs match up very well against each other. While certainly an odd bounce or two of the ball (or rash of penalties) could sway this year's NFL championship in one team's favor, of course, but on paper, this one looks like a classic.

Forget for a moment all of the storylines that you've no doubt already heard about - the babble about Deflategate, Pete Carroll's past in New England, or the penalties that could be levied upon Marshawn Lynch should he not communicate, celebrate or dress the way the league wants him to.

Instead consider some of the matchups of personnel and personalities in this contest.

Rob Gronkowski and Kam Chancellor are the two most physically intimidating players at their respective positions in the NFL. Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman won't see each other on a single play and yet their "matchup" will be closely monitored throughout the game. If anyone understands Doug Baldwin's frustration at being called pedestrian despite a track record of brilliance in big games, it is New England pass-rusher Rob Ninkovich.

Consider the contrast of Seattle's fast, physical defense and the discipline and execution of New England's offense. The Seahawks play with such speed in part because Dan Quinn's defense is less complicated than many of the others in the league. With their multiple personnel and alignment packages and frequent changing of the snap count, the Patriots are built to use defenses' aggression against them.

Jeremy Lane gave a disillusioned scouting report on Gronkowski earlier in the week. It is entirely possible that the ultra-confident Lane simply doesn't think the 6-6, 265 pounder with 54 touchdowns in 65 career games is as good as most believe him to be. It is also possible that Lane simply hasn't seen the film, as Pete Carroll suggested. That would make sense, actually, as Lane will have his hands full with the dynamic slot duo of Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. Keeping these two from generating yardage after the catch (including on special teams) will be a high priority in Seattle's game plan.

With big shots from Chancellor and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner in particular, Seattle has generally been very effective in limiting what slot receivers could do. Chancellor and Seattle's outside linebackers K.J. Wright and Bruce Irvin will have their hands full with Gronkowksi and New England's stable of backs. Shane Vereen is especially slippery and possesses terrific hands and fluidity to attack Seattle on wheel routes.

If you didn't catch the AFC Championship game, LaGarrette Blount was doing his best Lynch impression. Like Lynch, Blount is often mischaracterized frankly, as a blunt object - a big, physical plodder who relies on his size and strength simply bulldoze defenders. The 6-0, 250 pound former Oregon Duck showed terrific lateral agility, balance and vision to make multiple Colts miss on his way to 148 yards and three touchdowns.

And, oh, by the way, there's this guy Tom Brady who is chasing the fourth ring of his Hall of Fame career, hoping to silence the Deflate hate and exact a bit of revenge on Sherman along the way.

The Patriots are loaded with talent and are coached exceptionally well. I did not anticipate Seattle blowing out the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl last year but I did expect them to win. The Seahawks were simply faster and fiercer. Those traits generally don't have bad days.

Make no mistake, however, this Patriots squad is better than last year's Broncos and match up well with the Seahawks.

It should be a terrific game; one that I'm looking forward to breaking it down with you all week on Top Stories