No team in the NFL is better at not only overcoming adversity, but also using it to their advantage, than the New England Patriots. The AFC champions seem to thrive on controversy and make the most of it, which might be one of the main reasons bettors are backing them as favorites to win Super Bowl XLIX over the defending champion Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
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Deflategate aside, New England quite simply has one of the best head coaches in NFL history in Bill Belichick, who has repeatedly helped his players ignore the noise and focus solely on winning football games. The Patriots looked like an average team following a 2-2 start and then went on a season-high seven-game winning streak -- going 6-1 against the spread -- helping to make them the betting favorites to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Coaching has a lot to do with the winning culture created in Foxboro, and that’s largely a credit to Belichick since he arrived in 2000.
New England also has a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Tom Brady, who, along with Belichick, will be appearing in the Super Bowl for the sixth time in 14 years. Even though the Patriots have lost in each of their last two appearances to the New York Giants, two-time Super Bowl MVP Brady has done his best to try to help them succeed. In their last Super Bowl three years ago, New England tight end Rob Gronkowski was suffering from a high ankle sprain and was severely limited, serving mostly as a decoy and finishing with just two catches for 26 yards. The Patriots put together arguably their best group of pass catchers for Brady this season, featuring a healthy Gronkowski to go along with wide receivers Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola.
While this team has struggled to score touchdowns at times, most notably in the past two Super Bowls against the Giants, the defense might be the difference against Seattle. New England has allowed more than 17 points only once in its last six games overall, and that came in a 35-31 victory against the Baltimore Ravens in this year’s divisional round of the AFC playoffs. There’s no doubt the Seahawks are offensively challenged, and holding running back Marshawn Lynch in check in Super Bowl XLIX could be the key to the Patriots outscoring them and covering the spread in the process.