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Who has the wide receiver edge: Seahawks or Patriots?

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Around The NFL will look at one compelling matchup or comparison each day leading up to Super Bowl XLIX. Today: A battle between the receiving corps, both of which derive their potency from simplicity.

Wes Welker 2.0


Following the departure of Randy Moss, the consistent question plaguing New England's front office was how they valued wide receivers, and whether or not they would pair an aging Tom Brady with another game-breaker.

Instead, they let Wes Welker walk, too, confident that Julian Edelman would step in and be a multi-faceted player talented enough to keep the offense on pace.

It was a gamble, of course, but it put Edelman in a situation he relished. He caught eight or more passes in a game seven times in 2014 and had more than 90 receiving yards four times. His 141-yard performance in Week 14 was the capstone of a brilliant season.

It sounds common to talk about "slot" type receivers and complement their understanding of leverage, but watching Edelman during that Chargers game, it's easy to see why he is the lifeblood of Brady's passing game.

Boiled down, his ability to sustain contact and stay on a route provides Brady with an instant out on so many passing routes. He is the quintessential complementary wide receiver, working in concert with Rob Gronkowski and Brandon LaFell in a way that makes him almost irreplaceable. He is better than Welker ever was at making defenders miss after the catch.

Plus, he can always drop back and throw a ball, too.

Understanding Wilson


While the strength of New England's passing game seems to come from scheme simplicity and the right lynchpin wide receiver, Seattle's strength feels like it comes from an inherent and unspoken understanding between Russell Wilson and his two favorite targets: Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse.

This was never clearer than two weeks ago, when the Seahawks pounded the Panthers at home to advance to the NFC Championship game.

Wilson's ability to manipulate deep safeties is second to only Aaron Rodgers, and his mobility is better. This means plenty of opportunities like the 16-yard touchdown he lofted to Baldwin to kick off the playoff game. Everything, from the fake to the stutter step was coordinated perfectly. The fact that he also had a running lane made the play close to unstoppable.

So, who's better?


The good thing about this battle is that no team will be handicapped by the ability of a quarterback. Both receiving corps are underrated, but excellent as well.

If we had to go on talent alone, the Patriots would earn the edge. Edelman is quietly one of the best 20 receivers in the league. LaFell nearly hit 1,000 yards, and Danny Amendola is a decent option off the bench. The Seahawks system tends to hold receivers down; just look at what Golden Tate did when he left. Ultimately, it's hard to imagine Baldwin and Kearse having huge roles anywhere but Seattle. Even without throwing Rob Gronkowski in the mix, we give the Patriots the edge.

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.

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