Seahawks’ suffocating defense key to victory in Phoenix

THE SEATTLE Seahawks rumble into Arizona for Super Bowl XLIX looking to create a modern-day dynasty by securing a second successive Vince Lombardi trophy.

Back-to-back titles haven’t been achieved since their opponents the New England Patriots managed it in 2003 and 2004.

In the 16 games the franchises have contested they have eight wins apiece and the 17th meeting is the biggest yet.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has three NFL titles from six final appearances and Seattle’s Pete Carroll is aiming for a second, 15 years after being sacked and replaced by his opposite man.

Seattle rallied to win 24-23 against New England for the most recent meeting in 2012, and Seahawks’ star cornerback Richard Sherman infamously called-out quarter-back Tom Brady.

Brady has played the most career postseason games (28), has most wins (20) and most touchdowns (49) in NFL history, but comes up against an outstanding Seattle secondary. The key for the Patriots is to protect Brady and, whenever possible, target tight-end Rob Gronkowski, who had 82 catches and 12 TDs in the regular season.

Expect Seattle’s Kam Chancellor and K.J. Wright to try limit the touches the tight-end gets.

The Seahawks defense has been its overpowering best with linebacker Bobby Wagner returning from injury. It is ranked first in points per game (15.9), first in yards per game (267.1), third in rushing yards per game (81.5) and first in passing yards per game (185.6).

On the other side of the ball, QB Russell Wilson has won all 10 match-ups with Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. His ability to make plays with his feet and the support from running-back Marshawn Lynch makes them perfectly balanced.

Lynch had more than 1,000 yards and 10 TDs for the fourth consecutive season and led the league in TDs with 17. He racked up 157 yards and a TD in the NFC title game win over the Packers and I’d take the 11/2 with Betway for Lynch to be MVP.

A lot has been made about Seattle’s lack of a threat out wide, but Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse are big-game players. The Patriots have struggled against dominant tight ends and Luke Willson should play an important role.

Seattle’s defense has the talent to keep Brady in check, while Wilson and a dominant running game can do the rest. This will be close, but Seattle will pull away late to secure their place in the history books.

■ Pointers…
Buy Seattle’s supremacy at 1 with Sporting Index
Marshawn Lynch to be MVP at 11/2 with Betway