What it's like to face Patriots, Seahawks


With the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks set to square off in Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday, understanding what it's like to face these two No. 1 seeds can best be explained by the foes each faced during the season.

During last week's Pro Bowl, Around The NFL talked with a bevy of all-stars who battled the Patriots and Seahawks during the season in order to get a feel for what challenges each will face during the Super Bowl.

As it often does in the NFL, the conversation begins with the quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Russell Wilson.

"Tom is one of the best ever, he gets in those modes where you can't do anything," Chargers safety Eric Weddle said. "You are just hoping he makes a mistake or makes a bad throw, because he can just kill a defense."

Weddle's Chargers faced both franchise quarterbacks in 2014 and the safety said each brings a unique skill set.

"Russ, obviously, his intangibles, his belief, the way he can extend plays and run around and kill a defense like that, which always presents problems," Weddle said, noting the Chargers often used a defensive back as a spy on the shifty signal-caller.

Weddle said keeping each quarterback down the whole game in nearly impossible, pointing to Brady's 69-yard fourth-quarter touchdown dime to Julian Edelman in Week 14 as evidence.

"It was such a battle the entire game and then he makes a sick throw like that," Weddle said. "That is the thing against great quarterbacks, you can play good for so long and he makes that one throw that kills you."

Beyond the quarterbacks, both New England and Seattle present unique challenges for the defenses in Super Bowl XLIX.

The Patriots have to deal with Marshawn Lynch. As Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston said, keeping the running back from going Beast Mode is the biggest battle.

"No arm tackling. Straight body tackles. Arm tackles he's running right through it. So you know it's going to be a war," Houston said. "I know he broke one of my tackles the first series of the game I went and tried to get a good lick, didn't wrap up good he broke through it. I looked back behind me and he was five yards down field. So you got to wrap up, bring your weight with you."

The Seahawks' biggest matchup problem will be Rob Gronkowski, who makes the Patriots' offense flow.

"He's huge. He's tough to stop," Lions safety Glover Quin said. "He is a big target, great hands, strong, powerful, faster than a lot of people think. ... Obviously you want to try to get your hands on him. ... But he's definitely a tough guy to stop."

Stop him is what Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and the rest of the Seahawks' secondary will attempt to accomplish. But as Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles said, having linebacker Bobby Wagner -- who missed Seattle's loss to Kansas City -- on the field is huge for the Seahawks against both the run and pass.

"Bobby Wagner brings a lot, he's fast, fast flowing to the ball," Charles said. "He's going to make sure tackles. He knows how to blitz, knows how to watch a tight end, he knows how to watch running backs."

The Patriots boast their own top-rated secondary with Darrelle Revis, Devin McCourty and Brandon Browner.

Packers receiver Randall Cobb had the challenge of facing both units in 2014 and said they each are dominant in their own way.

"They are both tough secondaries," he said. "They are both good. They both play difference styles of defenses. They do what they do."

Lest we not forget the coaches, with Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick set to face off in a battle of wits. For many Pro Bowl players Belichick's ability to scheme is a big difference when facing the Patriots.

"Belichick does a great job of game planning, scheming, knowing how to take your best weapon and making him irrelevant," Bengals defensive lineman Geno Atkins said.

The one constant in all the Pro Bowl players we talked to was the belief that Sunday's Super Bowl has a chance to be one of the best in recent memory.

"I said this last year, and I don't want to jinx it, but I think that this will be one of the best Super Bowls of all time," Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said. "You got Tom Brady versus the Legion of Boom, it just seems like a great matchup."

We wholeheartedly agree with OBJ.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast reacts to the Patriots' deflated footballs controversy and tells you whom to trust in Super Bowl XLIX. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.