5 burning questions to be answered in Super Bowl XLIX
More than 5,500 media members were credentialed to cover the week leading up to Super Bowl XLIX and Sunday's game between the defending champion Seattle Seahawks and the three-time champion New England Patriots. Nearly every player, coach and executive was featured. Nearly every facet of the game was analyzed and every ancillary angle covered. That doesn't mean all the questions were answered, however. Aside from the outcome, here are five more burning questions awaiting response.
1. Who wins: Patriots' passing game or Seahawks' secondary?
It's strength against strength. New England's offense is leading the postseason with 409.5 yards per game, 314 of them through the air. Seattle's ball-hawking secondary may be the best of all time, but All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman (elbow) and safety Earl Thomas (shoulder) aren't 100 percent, so New England could have an advantage with small, quick receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. Seattle's run defense was ranked No. 3 against the run this season, so the Patriots may choose this plan. Can their offensive line protect QB Tom Brady well enough to execute it?
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2. Which commercials carry the day?
The ads are as much a part of Super Bowl Sunday as the game itself. From Cindy Crawford's Pepsi ad to Budweiser's Puppy and Clydesdale, Betty White's Snickers ad and the Taco Bell lions, there have been some epic commercials. Which will earn critical and popular fame this year, and what about that NFL PSA on domestic violence? Will it signal a meaningful and substantive shift in dialogue -- a sincere commitment to change -- or will it feel more like damage control from a league that has been far to slow to react to an important and tragic social issue?
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3. What will Katy Perry do?
At her Thursday press conference, the world's biggest music star promised a 'wild' halftime show complete with her biggest hits, a lion, sharks, a surprise guest and a 'flaming hot' opening costume that had entertainment outlets speculating about a get-up that channels Katniss Everdeen from 'The Hunger Games'. Maybe you don't care about the halftime show, but for millions of viewers, this is the main attraction and the game is just a side dish.
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4. How many times will we hear about Deflategate?
The American public loves a scandal, which is part of the reason the media keeps driving this story through print, online and broadcast mediums. Scandal sells and America is driven by nothing if not profit. What new angles will NBC's broadcast crew dredge up? How many shots will we see of commissioner Roger Goodell, Pats owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick, QB Tom Brady and the Patriots' ball boy? Is it wishful thinking to hope the game is such an epic that this story gets shelved for a while?
5. Is this really a defining game for both the Seahawks and Patriots?
Angles such as this often waver on the edge of media hyperbole. On the one hand, Seattle can become the NFL's first repeat champ since the Patriots did it a decade ago, solidifying their place in league history and cementing Russell Wilson's identity as a big-game QB. With a fourth title, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady can secure their legacy as the one of the greatest coach-QB duos of all time. On the other hand, will the media prism change if one or both of these teams make it back here next season? And by the way, haven't six Super Bowl appearances already cemented the Belichick-Brady legacy?