With the Patriots moving as high as –2 on the NFL odds board, we look at how the 2014 AFC champions have been preparing for their Super Bowl XLIX matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.
Jason’s 2014-15 postseason record: 3-3 ATS, 3-2-1 Totals
You know you’ve reached peak Deflategate when Bill Nye the Science Guy is taking down Bill Belichick. We’re at the halfway point of the extra-long wait between the end of the Conference Round and Super Bowl XLIX (Feb. 1, 6:30 p.m. ET, NBC), and nobody’s talking about what’s happening on the New England Patriots practice field. Everybody’s talking about… balls.
Not that they shouldn’t – cheating is cheating, after all. But if you’re betting on the Super Bowl, you want some news that’s a little more relevant to the NFL odds for the Big Game. We’re more than happy to oblige. Here’s the skinny on what’s been going on in the Patriots camp, fresh off the Interwebs.
Taste the Pain
Only two injuries of note on the Patriots: center Bryan Stork (knee) and WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder, toe) are officially listed as questionable, although both are expected to play on Sunday. Stork and LaFell have been putting in limited practices for New England thus far. Naturally, every Patriots injury report has to be taken with a grain of salt, but there doesn’t seem to be much to look at here.
For completion’s sake, though, here are the other players who were listed as questionable: CB Brandon Browner (knee), LB Dont’a Hightower (shoulder), DT Chris Jones (elbow), and DT Sealver Siliga (foot). And as usual, QB Tom Brady (ankle) is being considered “probable,” which is more of a philosophical statement than a health report. All these players were on the practice field Sunday, New England’s last at Gillette Stadium before flying to Arizona on Monday.
It’s in Our Hands
Coming out of Sunday’s practice at the Dana-Farber Field House, the Patriots talked to reporters about some of the challenges the Seahawks present. RB LeGarrette Blount stressed how important it is for New England to avoid turning over the ball. “We just know we can’t win without the football in our hands,” Blount told reporters. “We put a big emphasis on protecting the football when we get it, and that’s how you win games.”
Conveniently enough, analyst Warren Sharp recently looked at the Patriots vis-à-vis ball security, and he found that they’ve had an unusually low rate of lost fumbles: just one for every 187 plays over the past five regular seasons. The closest any other team got to that level in a five-year span was the 2006-2010 Indianapolis Colts, at 156 plays per lost fumble. According to Sharp, the chances of any one team being as fumble-free as New England are about one in 16,000. Note that the Patriots didn’t lose a single fumble at home this year. Deflategate, perhaps?
Ice Bowl 2015
Weather conditions might not play a part in Sunday’s Big Game – at least, not in Glendale. Back in Foxborough, it looks like the Patriots will manage to get out of town just in time, before a major snowstorm touches down on Massachusetts. The team was scheduled to leave from Logan Airport at 12:30 p.m. Eastern, after a late-morning rally at City Hall. Snow is expected to start falling sometime in the afternoon.
This isn’t just any snow, either. A blizzard warning has been issued across seven Northeastern states, including parts of Massachusetts and all of Rhode Island. They’re calling this one Winter Storm Juno, and it could dump as much as two feet of snow on the Boston area. If you’re one of the 28 million or more people affected by the storm, we hope you’ll be able to make it through unscathed and enjoy Super Bowl Sunday. Just make sure you have plenty of supplies, and don't forget to check out more NFL picks for this Big game before placing your bets.
May the prolate spheroid be with you.