THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
Patriots coach Bill Belichick greets Seahawks coach Pete Carroll after their 2012 regular-season game in Seattle. The Seahawks won 24-23 in Russell Wilson’s rookie season. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
SUPER BOWL XLIX: SEATTLE vs. NEW ENGLAND
Details/TV: At Glendale, Ariz., Sunday at 3:30 p.m., Channel 4
Official game balls for Super Bowl XLIX sit in a bin before being laced and inflated at the Wilson Sporting Goods Co. in Ada, Ohio last week. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
We feel cheated.
For the 49th edition of the Super Bowl, we were all pumped up for an appearance by the 49ers. Instead, they miss the playoffs and run their coach off – what’s their deal? (They’ll host Super Bowl 50, so now’s the time to refocus). Then, consider how much electricity there would have been in the air-conditioned University of Phoenix Stadium if the AZ Cardinals and Carson Palmer had been able to stay healthy and wealthy, and could have claimed a home-desert advantage. The Rams deflated our hopes long ago – not just as a franchise, but in pretending they might come back to L.A. So in the end, the NFC West team that merits our attention is Pete Carroll’s crew, which guarantees that we’ll have a ball – at the proper PSI requirements, of course.
Maybe the Seahawks are a slight underdog to win their second consecutive title, but it’s perfect timing to become their 12th, 13th and 14th man right now – if that’s within the rules. Should Carroll pull off back-to-back Super Bowl wins, we will be far more impressed than when Bill Belichick did it 10 years ago with the ’04 and ’05 Patriots. And those, friends, are the last Vince Lombardi trophies that Belichick has hoisted, thanks to bad karma. (See: Spygate, 2007). Carroll’s Seahawks will have polished off the AFC’s No. 1 seed two years in a row if they win here, and his redemption will come against the franchise that lost faith in him back at the turn of the century.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft said firing Carroll in 1999 after just three seasons (and a 27-21 record) was one of the toughest decisions he has had to make since buying the team: “A lot of things were going on that made it difficult for him to stay, some of which were out of his control. And it began with following a legend (in Bill Parcells).” So who replaced Carroll at New England? Belichick, who went 5-11 his first season there in 2000. Kraft has only hired two coaches on his watch as the Pats owner: Carroll, who left the NFL and started his nine-year run at USC in 2000, and Belichick, who has since become the winningest coach in postseason history. “It’s a little bit personal because we were there and it’s a great place and I have great respect for what they have done, the family, what they have pulled off over the years,” Carroll said this week about facing the Patriots. “The Kraft family, they’ve done amazing things, historic things in the league and in the last 15 years or however long it’s been … They’ve been the best of the best and they’ve proven it. So we’re fortunate to get a chance to get to play a team like this and a club like this.”
Whoever wins this game has to do it fair and square – like when the Seahawks stunned the Patriots, 24-23, back in October of 2012, as rookie quarterback Russell Wilson threw for two TDs in the last eight minutes to overcome a 23-10 deficit. Tom Brady’s career-high 58 pass attempts weren’t enough, and it led to that inspirational picture of him with Richard Sherman and the “U MAD BRO?” tweet.
If things aren’t on the up-and-up this time, there’s could be a lot more madness. Things could get blown out of proportion. A Super Bowl that’s ready for its AARP card certification might not have the patience to withstand that. Just like a regulation football, it needs to have the utmost bladder control.
THE REST OF THE WEEK:
Since we frequently hold conversations with Siri on our iPhone, we had cause to ask the simple question: What is your favorite NBA team? Without much of a pause, she responded …. well, you can read it yourself here. Siri could show up with a bag over her head in Madison Square Garden when the Lakers face the New York Knicks on Super Bowl Sunday (11 a.m., TWC SportsNet) and still be pretty much incognito. How soon does she switches allegiances to the Lakers? … The Clippers hit the road for eight straight on Wednesday, including a stop in San Antonio (Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN) against a Spurs team they haven’t figured out the last four meetings … The Kings come back from the All-Star break playing host to Chicago (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN) and then go on a five-game road trip, beginning in Boston (Saturday, 4 p.m., FSW) … UCLA has its hands full with Utah (Pauley Pavilion, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN2) and Colorado (Saturday, 7 p.m., Pac-12 Network) … Tiger Woods promises to appear at the PGA’s Waste Management Open in Scottsdale, Ariz., (Thursday-Sunday) right in the heart of the Super Bowl crowd … The rest of the week linked here.