1 Best matchup? The two top seeds from each conference advanced, although in different fashions. Seattle had to overcome a disastrous five-turnover performance and catch a few breaks, such as Green Bay fumbling an onside kick, to win. New England, meanwhile, didn’t sweat it out in dominating Indianapolis. At the end of the day, it sets up a matchup with plenty of storylines between two of the top teams in the league. The early line is even after Seattle opened as a 21/2-point favorite. Seattle also won the last matchup, a 24-23 win in 2012.
2 Can the Seahawks repeat? As stated, the Seahawks overcame four interceptions by Russell Wilson and a lost fumble in becoming the first team to win a conference championship with at least five turnovers since San Francisco beat Dallas in 1981. Now they’re looking to become the first repeat champions since the Patriots in the 2003-04 seasons. It’s hard to count out the Seahawks behind Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and a strong defense.
3 Are the Patriots ready to reclaim glory? New England has been a perennial playoff team in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era, winning three of five Super Bowl appearances. But they haven’t won it all since the ’04 season, having their perfect season fall short in 2007 to the Giants and falling again to the Giants three years ago. Is it time for them to break the decade-long championship drought?
4 Quarterback showdown. Both of these quarterbacks are somewhat similar in being looked over in the draft and then having great success early in their careers. But Wilson will become the only quarterback in history to start two Super Bowls in his first three seasons, and has shown no stage is too big. For Brady, he’ll be the only QB in history to start six Super Bowls. And, at 37, it’s fair to wonder how many more chances Brady will have to add a fourth title to his name, which would put him in the four-ring QB club along with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana.
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5 Difference makers? Stars tend to shine when the lights are brightest. Outside of the QBs, this game is going to come down to the impact players all season. Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch has to impose his will in the running game, and Richard Sherman (who is dealing with an elbow injury) and Earl Thomas form a stout secondary. Conversely, New England running back LeGarrette Blount is peaking at the right time, and Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman pose matchup problems. And the Patriots’ defense is riding high after holding the Colts to seven points.