The final game of the NFL season means there is one last chance to compete in fantasy football.
While the entire country will be watching the New England Patriots taking on the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, it's obvious not everyone cares about who wins. Whether you tune in for the commercials, the halftime show or prop bets, there are always things to follow outside of the game score.
For those interested in the individual performances of the biggest stars of the game, here is a breakdown of what to watch for from each side.
New England Patriots
|Predictions for Notable Players|
|QB||Tom Brady||28-45, 285 pass yards, 2 TD, 1 INT|
|RB||LeGarrette Blount||17 carries, 64 rush yards|
|WR||Julian Edelman||7 catches, 58 rec. yards, 1 TD|
|WR||Brandon LaFell||4 catches, 67 rec. yards|
|TE||Rob Gronkowski||6 catches, 114 rec. yards, 1 TD|
Tom Brady has been outstanding for much of the season, but he has especially been able to turn it on in the playoffs. In two games against the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts, the veteran quarterback has totaled six passing touchdowns and a rushing score.
That being said, it's hard to trust he will be able to have similar success against one of the best defenses we have seen in a long time. The Seattle Seahawks were No. 1 in the NFL against the pass this season (as well as No. 1 in total yards and total points allowed), and are coming off a strong performance against Aaron Rodgers in the NFC Championship Game.
Between Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, it's hard to find any gaps in the secondary.
However, Brady certainly has plenty of experience playing in big games like this one:
He also is incredibly confident thanks to his relaxed attitude, as he explained after his latest win:
It might be difficult for any of the Patriots' individual receivers to rack up serious numbers because Brady will only find who is open regardless of who it is, but the quarterback will have a solid performance on his own.
Meanwhile, the only receiving target you can trust to have a big game is Rob Gronkowski. The big tight end has scored 14 total touchdowns this season including the playoffs, and he has gotten into the end zone in five straight games.
Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes how easy it is for the Pro Bowler:
Defending the tight end has actually been a weak spot for Seattle this year as well with only two teams allowing more than the 11 touchdowns the Seahawks have given up to the position. Expect Gronk to come through with another big showing.
As far as the run game is concerned, LeGarrette Blount is clearly the one to bet on but it's hard to imagine him coming close to repeating his huge effort against the Colts. Expect a modest effort against a solid defensive front for Seattle.
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|Predictions for Notable Players|
|QB||Russell Wilson||18-27, 170 pass yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 27 rush yards|
|RB||Marshawn Lynch||26 carries, 141 rush yards, 1 TD; 1 catch, 15 rec. yards|
|WR||Doug Baldwin||4 catches, 74 rec. yards, 1 TD|
|WR||Jermaine Kearse||3 catches, 27 rec. yards|
|TE||Luke Willson||3 catches, 15 rec. yards|
The running back was a big reason Seattle was able to come back against the Green Bay Packers, finishing with 157 rushing yards and a touchdown. The score came on a 24-yard run to take the first lead of the game with just over a minute remaining in the fourth quarter.
Head coach Pete Carroll was impressed by the effort:
New England did a good job against the run for the most part this season, but a lot of that was due to teams abandoning the ground game while losing in the second half. Expect Lynch to have a similar performance to that of Justin Forsett in the divisional round, totaling 129 yards on 5.4 yards per attempt.
On the other hand, Wilson might end up being limited thanks to one of the best coaches in league history. Bill Belichick will no doubt study the tape of what caused the quarterback to throw four interceptions against the Packers and will do the same or worse in the Super Bowl.
Wilson certainly changed the perception of his play at the end of the game, as ESPN's Andrew Brandt noted:
Whether he leads his team to a win or loss, though, you can expect some unimpressive numbers in this one.
As a result, you can also expect some below-average efforts by the majority of receiving targets. With Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse having such varied performances from game to game, it is also difficult to trust either.
If you were forced to pick one, Baldwin has the better chance of a big day thanks to his big-play threat against a defense that sometimes loses players down the field. Either way, the majority of yards in this one will come on the ground.
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