One reliable preview. One key factor to decide the game. It's that simple.
New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks (Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET, NBC) -- A good amount of history is on the line in Super Bowl XLIX. The Seahawks are vying to become the first back-to-back Super Bowl winners in a decade, when the 2003 and 2004 Patriots pulled off that feat by winning Super Bowl XXXVIII and Super Bowl XXXIX. The Patriots' living legend quarterback Tom Brady is attempting to do something only two other quarterbacks have achieved: Win four Super Bowls, joining Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw.
Having played in five previous Super Bowls, Brady has a solid statistical sample size that nearly mirrors his 15-year career regular-season stat line. He's completed 64.5 percent of his passes in Super Bowls, compared to 63.5 percent over his career. He averages 255.4 yards passing in Super Bowls, 254.8 over his career. His Super Bowl passer rating is 93.8, and his career passer rating is 95.9. What does this all mean? Basically that Brady brings his usual level of excellence to the game's biggest stage.
Looking to shorten the game and keep the pigskin out of Brady's hands will be the Seahawks' No. 1-rated rushing offense. In a day and age of advanced aerial attacks, what the Seahawks accomplished by going old-school with its offense is astounding. The 172.6 yards-per-game average is the best in franchise history (and, since 1985, only the 2001 Pittsburgh Steelers -- 173.4 -- and 2006 Atlanta Falcons -- 183.7 -- had more rushing yards per game than the Seahawks). This punishing ground attack is led by Marshawn Lynch. Since 2013, the Seahawks are 19-1 (including postseason games) when Lynch has a rushing touchdown. In Super Bowl XLIX, Lynch will be chasing down some legends of the gridiron. Lynch currently ranks 13th all-time in career postseason rushing yards with 815, just behind Earnest Byner's 839 yards and Roger Craig's 841 yards.
One cliché to keep in mind
Defenses win championships. Since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, teams that had the league's No. 1 scoring defense that also appeared in the Super Bowl area 13-3 and have won seven of the last eight times. Last year's Super Bowl-winning Seahawks were one of those teams. The Seahawks once again led the NFL in scoring (as well as total) defense in 2014. Under Bill Belichick, the Patriots are 2-4 when going up against the team sporting the league's No. 1 scoring and total defense.
Great Moments in Air & Ground History
Seahawks 24, Patriots 23 (Week 6 of 2012 season) -- The all-time head-to-head record for Patriots-Seahawks games is knotted at 8-8, so Super Bowl XLIX will break that tie (it should be noted that the Seahawks were once a part of the American Football Conference, and the two teams met 13 times in 16 seasons but just three times since 1993). The most recent incarnation of this matchup took place just two seasons ago, and it was a seminal moment for the "Legion of Boom." Little-known (at that time) cornerback Richard Sherman trolled Tom Brady after the game, and "U Mad Bro?" became a thing. Brady threw for 395 yards and two touchdowns in that game, but also had two costly interceptions, including one for Sherman. Instead, it was rookie quarterback Russell Wilson who provided the heroics, leading a 14-point rally in the final 7:31 to stun the Patriots. A 46-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice with 1:18 remaining delivered the victory. The Seahawks emerged as a legitimate contender with the win, advancing to the divisional playoff round. The Patriots, meanwhile, were defeated in the AFC Championship Game by the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.