Patriots, Seahawks 2014 Preview, Both Teams Extend Their Dynasties
Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana believes the Seattle Seahawks are on the verge of being a dynasty.
He should know a thing or two about dynasties. Montana led the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl victories in nine years.
Most NFL pundits will tell you there’s only been one dynasty in the 21st century and that belongs to the New England Patriots.
Since 2001, the Pats have won three Super Bowls, five AFC Championships, and played in eight AFC Championship games all while missing the playoffs just twice. If that wasn’t enough, the Patriots have won ten or more games in 11 consecutive seasons (that includes 2007 when they went 16-0).
The Seahawks have won one Super Bowl. The team was 5-11 in 2009 and 7-9 in 2011. The only NFL team in the Pacific Northwest has a long ways to go before they can be the century’s second sustained winner but Montana and others think Seattle has the right stuff to be dynastic.
The Seahawks are young, they have a franchise quarterback (Russell Wilson), an all-world defensive back (Richard Sherman), one of the all-time great defenses, and a coach who seems to push all the right buttons (by the way, Pete Carroll was the last head coach of the Patriots before Bill Belichick took over).
Differences & Similarities
There are some glaring differences between the Patriots and Seahawks. The Pats are built around quarterback Tom Brady while the Seahawks are built around Sherman and the Legion of Boom.
Basically, the Pats carve up defenses while the Seahawks ransack offenses.
The franchises do however have two things in common. They each have a tremendous home field advantage and both know exactly the type of players they want on their rosters.
No Place Like Home
No one wants to play in Foxborough in December or January. It’s cold and windy.
Seattle’s 12th Man are rabid and loud. Twice they’ve set Guinness World records for loudest crowd noise.
Out Of Nowhere
How many times have the Patriots taken a low draft pick, or an undrafted free agent, and turned him into a contributor? If you look at the Seahawks Super Bowl roster it was littered with fifth-rounders, sixth-rounders, and those who were left out of the draft altogether.
For example, Sherman was selected in the fifth round and Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith was picked in the seventh.
That’s why I find it funny that heading into the 2014 season some experts are saying the Seahawks haven’t done enough to replace the usual exodus of talent that comes with winning the Super Bowl.
That’s not necessarily true. They have replaced exiting talent. They have done it with unfamiliar free agents and draft picks—just like you didn’t know Richard Sherman and Malcolm Smith when they were first picked.
Big Name Free Agents
In the offseason, the New England Patriots acquired two big name free agents—Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. The former Seahawk will miss the first four games of the season due to a suspension. He returns Oct. 5 when the New England Patriots host the Cincinnati Bengals.
By the way, that’s another hallmark of a dynasty. It’s not that they never acquire big name free agents. It’s just that when they do they make sure they’re going to make an impact.
In 2013, the Patriots had a pretty bad defensive backfield. That won’t be the case in 2014. They’ve signed free agents who, despite their big names, and even some baggage, will make a difference.
As for the Seahawks, they showed tremendous restraint by not over paying for Jared Allen, something the franchise would have done in the past.
Back From Injuries
The key for the Patriots won’t necessarily be the players they acquired in the offseason but the players coming back from injuries.
Rob Gronkowski, Jerod Mayo, Tommy Kelly, Sebastian Vollmer, and Vince Wilfork are all returning from season-ending injuries. If they all come back strong the Patriots will return to the Super Bowl.
The biggest difference between the Patriots and Seahawks isn’t play style but geography. Mainly, the Patriots are in the worst division in football, the AFC West. The Seahawks play in, what is arguably the best, the NFC West.
For most of the century, the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets have rolled over for the mighty Pats. This season, the Patriots and Jets battle on Oct. 16 and Dec. 21. It’s hard to miss the playoffs when your division spots you six wins.
Twice a season the Seahawks must battle the San Francisco 49ers, one of the NFL’s best teams; the Arizona Cardinals, who won ten games in 2013; and the St. Louis Rams, who, thanks to head coach Jeff Fisher, come ready to play every week.
In 2014, the toughest part of the Patriots schedule comes in October and November. The Patriots look to tame the Chicago Bears on Oct. 26. A week later, it’s Patriots versus Broncos in what will probably be a preview of the AFC Championship game and likely a matchup of undefeated teams.
Later in November, New England hits the road for tilts against the Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers. Both contests come during a three-week span in November.
If these teams can stay healthy they will be there in the end. In fact, I think both teams will reach Super Bowl XLIX and when they do the game will be billed as “Dynasty versus Dynasty.”