Carolina Panthers

Super Bowl XLIX: Joseph Person’s three things to watch

Three things to watch (besides the quarterbacks) in Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots:

Corner market

The game features two of the league’s premier cornerbacks in Seattle’s Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis, who’s in his first Super Bowl. Sherman was full participation in practice this week after spraining his elbow in the NFC Championship Game against Green Bay. Sherman, who lines up on the left side, plays a more freewheeling style than Revis, a more conventional corner. Former Panthers WR Brandon LaFell will challenge Sherman deep, while Revis will try to shut down Jermaine Kearse and Doug Baldwin, who have come up with big catches in the postseason.

Will Seahawks get Gronked?

With his size, speed and play-making ability, New England tight end Rob Gronkowski presents a difficult challenge for Seattle’s Legion of Boom secondary. Given how the Patriots move Gronkowski around in their formations, several Seahawks defenders will match up with him, including hard-hitting safety Kam Chancellor. But the X-factor could be outside linebacker K.J. Wright, regarded as one of the best cover linebackers in the league.

Ground control

With rain falling throughout the AFC Championship Game – and with the benefit of deflated footballs for the first half – Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount had 30 carries vs. the Colts. And while Bill Belichick loves to cross up defensive coordinators by varying his game plans, the Patriots rushed for 100 yards or more in all of their Super Bowl wins. Meanwhile, Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch is a punishing runner who seldom goes down on first contact. The team that establishes its running game will win.

Bottom line

After watching New England dismantle the Panthers in the third exhibition week, I picked the Patriots to win the Super Bowl. I’m sticking with it. Tom Brady and Belichick get their fourth rings. New England 27, Seattle 20.