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Elaine Thompson/AP/Press Association Images Tom Brady and Russell Wilson will meet again this weekend.
# The Redzone
Head, heart & the million little doubts that creep in between - The42's Super Bowl preview
This is one of the tougher Super Bowls in recent memory to call.

THERE IS SO little to separate the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks heading into Sunday’s Super Bowl that, as I’m writing this opening sentence, I still don’t know for sure who I think will win the game.

I’m not alone.

Vegas can barely separate them with the defending champions opening as three point favourites before so much money came for the Patriots that they enter Sunday as one point favourites themselves.

That’s view refleceted by our own – admittedly non-scientific – poll during the week which saw New England just get the edge over Seattle.

For me though, it’s a case of my head battling my heart.

Since the start of the 2013 season, I’ve said the Seattle Seahawks are the best team in the NFL and, after reaching their second successive Super Bowl I’m pretty happy to stick with that assessment.

On Sunday, there are a number of key battles in which they hold an advantage over the Patriots but they area in which they can win and lose the game will be how much pressure they get on Tom Brady.

Twice in recent years, the Patriots have gone into Super Bowls against the New York Giants as favourites and twice they have left empty handed after their offensive line has come unstuck against a dominant pass rush.

In Super Bowl XLVI, Osi Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul and the Giants’ defensive front only sacked Brady twice, but they managed to knock him down on eight of his 41 dropbacks and ensured he completed just 27 passes for 276 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Four years earlier, Big Blue were even more dominant, hitting Brady nine times and sacking the quarterback on no fewer than five occasions in a game where he only passed for one touchdown and completed 29 of 48 passes for 266 yards.

Giants Preview Football Chris O'Meara / AP/Press Association Images Eli Manning can thank his defence for his two Super Bowl rings. Chris O'Meara / AP/Press Association Images / AP/Press Association Images

Now, while much is rightly made about the Seattle secondary – you don’t earn the Legion of Boom moniker if you’re only mediocre – the Seahawks’ defensive line did an almost identical job on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos last season when Cliff Avril, Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin forced the future Hall of Famer into lots of early – and poorly judged – throws.

Without the likes of Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane and Clemons this year, the defending champions are unlikely to be as dominant at the line of scrimmage but they still have more than enough weapons there to put pressure on Dan Connolly, Bryan Stork and company, especially if the latter plays hurt.

And Stork’s fitness could well be key to this entire Super Bowl.

During the first four weeks of the season, before the rookie was put in alongside Connolly and Ryan Wendell, the Patriots averaged 97.5 rushing yards per game.

Since then, it is closer to 112 yards per game and that’s including the Divisional Round game against the Baltimore Ravens where they failed to run the ball for the entire second half after Stork picked up his injury.

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Patriots Football AP / Press Association Images Stork (66) will hope to be 100% for the Patriots. AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

If Stork is healthy, the Patriots will hope running back LeGarrette Blount can get somewhere near the 148 yards and three touchdowns he managed last time out against the Colts as, historically, New England has won their Super Bowls on the ground.

Indeed, during their three Super Bowl titles in four years, the Pats rushed for 100 yards or more in six of nine playoff games including, crucially, all three World Championship games.

Which is all well and good until you remember that Seattle are the league’s second best team when it comes to defending the run and, one more the head starts to favour the defending champions.

But for all the statistics in football, for all the analysis, there has to be a place for the heart. There has to be a chance for the greatest coach-quarterback combination of all time to defy cold, hard logic and elevate themselves into the upper echelons of football folklore.

For my money – and these things are always subjective – Brady is the greatest quarterback I’ve seen play the game. With his impossible good looks, millions of dollars, super model wife and, of course, the Tuck Rule, it’s very easy to hate New England’s main man.

I don’t though and – despite being a life-long Oakland Raiders fan – would love nothing more than to see Brady become just the third quarterback in history, after Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw, to win four Super Bowls.

And that’s why writing these previews are so difficult; the battle between your head, your heart and the million little doubts that creep in somewhere in between.

But I don’t get paid for indecision and Seattle are the better football team. Sometimes, sometimes, that is enough.

Seattle Seahawks 24 v 20 New England Patriots

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