With the Super Bowl now only days away, the debate over how each team can win is reaching a fever pitch.
One of the key questions is how can the Patriots move the chains and score against Seattle's much vaunted 'Legion of Boom' defense. The answer to this question is to learn from the mistakes of the team defeated in the NFC Championship game the Green Bay Packers.
Caution Cost Green Bay
When you look at the Green Bay Packers season it is interesting to see that it is book-ended by two defeats on the road in Seattle. The Packers lost to the Seahawks twice this season.
The first time in the season opener where the final score was 16 - 36 to the Packers. The second time in the NFC Championship game where the Packers conspired to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Heading into the final minutes the Packers were ahead by nine points but ended up losing in overtime.
Separated by the course of the entire season you might not initially think that many parallels can be drawn between the two games. This is not the case though.
In the week one defeat to the Seahawks Aaron Rodgers and the offense were left wondering what might have been after they effectively decided not to try throwing the ball anywhere near Richard Sherman and consequently effectively removed number one wide receiver Jordy Nelson from the game.
This conservatism was even more evident and even more damaging in the NFC Championship game. In fact it cost the Packers a shot at the Superbowl.
Even with Richard Sherman playing with only one hand the Packers were yet again reticent to throw the ball in his coverage. The first quarter saw Mike McCarthy settle for two field goals instead of gambling on fourth down and going for the touchdown.
Then with a big lead heading into the final minutes. Green Bay chose to not attempt to return an interception and then in the ensuing drive the play calling focused on trying to chew up the clock rather than move the chains.
He Who Dares, Wins
Perhaps even more tellingly is the example of teams that have had success over the Seahawks such as the St Louis Rams in week seven. The Rams were able to shock Seattle in week seven by taking risks.
Time and again they went for it in fourth and short situations. Most memorably they also faked on punt on 4th and long deep inside their own territory. It was a huge risk but it paid off big time as the Rams got the first down and went on to win the game.
Experience has shown time and time again that playing it safe against Seattle by taking the cautious route does not work. If the Belichick and the Patriots are going to cut through all the media fog and beat the Seahawks then they will need to take the game to the Legion of Boom.
They need to take risks. Playing the percentages and making the safe decision is an easy way to get beat.
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