PHOENIX - The Patriots and Seahawks will still have to wait another 48 hours or so before they kick off Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday night. But most of the interminable pre-game hype is now in the rearview mirror, and it's not too soon to talk MVP.
A case could be made for virtually all of the front line players on each side. For the Patriots that would include the big three of Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Darrelle Revis. Julian Edelman could also factor into the mix given his dual role as a receiver and punt returner.
On the Seattle side Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch would top the list on offense while the defense could conceivably feature anyone. Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas and Bobby Wagner all could easily win the award.
In a game that figures to be an even matchup, pinpointing the individual player that will put his team over the edge is difficult, but that's exactly what we're trying to do in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case.
Who will win Super Bowl XLIX MVP?
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
He is the single most dominant offensive force in the game and having him healthy for the Super Bowl will make the difference for the Patriots. Gronkowski can physically match up with Kam Chancellor and his ability to get in the end zone against a Seahawks defense that struggles with tight ends will give him the edge.
Gronkowski's production has been down a bit lately but he's ready to explode on Sunday. He's had two weeks to prepare for the game and unlike recent seasons isn't dealing with any nagging injuries that will slow him down. The Seahawks have allowed 11 touchdowns to tight ends this season and none has been anywhere near as physically imposing as Gronkowski.
Look for the Patriots to exploit this matchup early on and for Tom Brady to keep feeding the beast. As good as Chancellor and the Seahawks are, they are not match for Gronk.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
In order for the Patriots to win they're going to need Brady to be at his best. Judging from the first two postseason games, he appears poised for a huge game on Sunday.
Brady has done a great job of dealing with pressure over the second half of the season so even if the Seahawks get near him I believe Brady will find his open receivers. Look for him to use Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman throughout, mixing shallow crosses with deeper seam routes as the Seahawks struggled to keep up.
Brady is in total command when he's spreading things out and shredding the opponent. He's every bit as comfortable throwing it 55 times as he is handing it off that many. He'll need to be at his best against a strong Seattle defense, and that's exactly what will happen as he captures another Super Bowl MVP.
Now it's your turn to cast a vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.* *