Both the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots have made their way to Glendale, Ariz., to test their skills out in the annual crucible of American football known as the Super Bowl on Feb. 1 at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
Despite the shadow of Deflategate haunting both Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, Patriots owner Robert Kraft seemed unapologetic for the under-inflated footballs. According to Barry Wilner of the Associated Press, Kraft made an unscheduled statement strongly defending his team's actions and integrity.
"I want to make it clear that I believe, unconditionally, that the New England Patriots have done nothing inappropriate in this process or in violation of NFL rules," Kraft said.
Kraft contended that the NFL should apologize to his team if they are found not guilty of breaking the rules, boldly asserting it will come to pass.
"If the (Ted) Wells investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs, I would expect and hope the league would apologize to our entire team, and in particular to coach (Bill) Belichick and Tom Brady, for what they've had to endure this week," Kraft said.
Deflategate brouhaha aside, Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports reported that Super Bowl XLIX will be considered "a classic NFL game" that has the Patriots and their efficient offensive attack go up against the Seahawks' solid defense. He elaborated on the history of the big game.
"Super Bowl 49 will mark the first time in Super Bowl history that neither team has a first-round pick they drafted at one of the offensive skill positions (quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end)," Trapasso wrote. "Every other Super Bowl since its inception in 1967 has included at least one first-round pick (drafted by a participating team) at the skill positions."
The matchup will also pit Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson against Brady. Trapasso noted that both quarterbacks were under pressure to perform, although one was higher than the other.
"No quarterback has a higher pressure percentage than the Seahawks quarterback," Trapasso wrote. "Wilson is certainly much more of an athletic improviser than Brady, but Seattle's offensive line isn't nearly as sturdy as New England's front is."
The Super Bowl matchup could harken back to the game back in October 2012, where the Seahawks pulled off a 24-23 comeback victory against New England. According to Judy Battista of NFL Media, this was also the same game where Richard Sherman turned the phrase "U mad bro?" into an Internet sensation that entered the national lexicon of zingers and catch phrases.
"We're built for a heavyweight fight," Sherman said after that game just over two years ago. "I don't think they're built for a heavyweight fight."
Battista noted that despite "stylistic differences," either team can pull off a win, making this year's Super Bowl "a compelling matchup."
"Can the Seattle defense manhandle the Patriots' receivers and throw off the offense, the way the Seahawks did to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII last year?" Battista asked. "But the teams look more alike now, and appear to be more evenly matched, than they did in 2012."
The bookies in Las Vegas seem to back up Battista's statement. According to information provided by Sports Information Traders, the odds have "quickly jumped down and down to an even Pick."
Super Bowl 49 will air on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Online viewers can stream this game live on NBC Sports Extra when the game occurs, although the feed of all the day's events will start streaming at noon ET.