Football

Super Bowl XLIX: Five things to watch

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is a matchup nightmare and one of the few offensive players who could give the Seahawks’ defense fits.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is a matchup nightmare and one of the few offensive players who could give the Seahawks’ defense fits. AP

1 You mad, bro?

In the last meeting between the teams, a 24-23 Seattle Seahawks victory in 2012, Richard Sherman walked up to Tom Brady and asked, “You mad, bro?” Sherman allowed only three receptions on 10 targets, with an interception and three pass breakups in that game. Since then, quarterbacks have become reluctant to consistently test Sherman. Quarterbacks have targeted him only seven times on 76 postseason passing attempts. But with Sherman nursing an elbow injury, expect Brady to test him early.

2 Controversy, controversy

Deflategate is the topic that won’t go away. The New England Patriots were asked repeatedly during Super Bowl week about the NFL’s investigation of under-inflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have pleaded ignorance. That came a week after the Baltimore Ravens complained about the Patriots’ deceptive formations when New England used only four offensive linemen along with an ineligible receiver. So what’s next?

3 Dynasty

One team will earn the title of modern-day dynasty. The Seahawks are seeking to become the first repeat champions since the 2003-04 Patriots. The Patriots seek their fourth title since the 2001 season. They have left losers in their previous two trips, losing to the New York Giants to end the ’07 season and again to the Giants to end the ’11 season.

4 Gronkowski Time

The Seahawks allowed only 41.4 yards per game to tight ends this season, but tight ends caught 11 of the 17 passing touchdowns they allowed. That doesn’t bode well because they’re facing the top tight end in football. Rob Gronkowski caught 12 touchdowns passes this season and has 54 in 65 regular-season games.

5 Lynch as MVP

The NFL has scheduled its annual Super Bowl MVP news conference for Monday morning (9:30 CST). Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch ranks among the favorites to win the award, and he has an infamous history when it comes to media obligations. Another running back, Dallas’ Duane Thomas, sat quietly at media day before Super Bowl VI, refusing to answer questions, as he had all season. He reportedly was voted MVP after rushing for 95 yards and a touchdown, but Sport, the magazine that presented the award at the time, worried about getting Thomas to a banquet in New York and instead gave the award to Roger Staubach.

— Charean Williams

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