Happy Super Bowl morning from foggy Phoenix, so foggy I can't see across the street here downtown. I can actually hear fog horns -- no kidding -- outside my hotel. A Seattle kind of morning.
With Seahawks fans everywhere in this city. University of Phoenix Stadium might become CenturyLink Field South today.
The Seahawks' buses are massing at the Arizona Grand Resort hotel a few miles south of where I am. I'll be heading to the stadium just before noon today, well ahead of the 4:30 p.m. local time kickoff.
That above is our News Tribune Super Bowl cover in today's paper. Our special section includes:
--my story on the power of Russell Wilson's mind
--TNT columnist Dave Boling saying the Seahawks need to pop the Patriots early and often, and if they do they will a second consecutive Super Bowl.
--columnist John McGrath knowing from experience that trick plays will be a factor today.
--colleague Don Ruiz, who has spent this past week with the Patriots down here, writing on the legacy Tom Brady will further define today.
Here is what I see as the key matchup of Super Bowl 49:
SEATTLE DEs MICHAEL BENNETT, CLIFF AVRIL VS. NEW ENGLAND C BRYAN STORK & G DON CONNOLLY
The Seahawks’ top-ranked defense has two primary tasks: stopping LeGarrette Blount and the Patriots inside running game first, then pressuring Tom Brady more than he’s used to with just four defensive linemen.
Watch No. 72 in blue today. He’ll be the guy moving around – a lot. Bennett will be on the edge at end when Seattle expects New England to run, with they did a lot with Blount in the AFC title game two weeks ago and hardly at all the week before that in the playoffs against Baltimore and through most of the regular season. And when the Seahawks go to nickel with fifth defensive back Jeremy Lane to counter New England’s extra wide receivers, Bennett will move inside over Stork and Connolly. He will probably be the quickest interior defensive lineman either Patriot has seen this season, with a first step that often puts him in foes’ backfields before the know what happened.
Stork is a rookie who’s been limited this week in practices by a knee injury he got three weeks ago. He listed as questionable to play today. Connolly’s struggled when he hasn’t been sidelined by a neck injury.
Seattle’s goal is to make New England have to throw it almost exclusively. If that happens, Bennett could be a mammoth factor on almost every down.
--Hate to do it, but three words on Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, one of those national writers who in October offered the unsubstantiated opinion the Seahawks were tired of Marshawn Lynch's act ...
.... now saying the Seahawks have offered Lynch a contract extension that would double his base pay from $5 million to $10 million for 2015:
I've told you so.
We've talked for months on here how vital Lynch is to this team, and how he's not going anywhere. It takes Super Bowl week for people outside of Puget Sound to figure that out.
More soon here on the blog as I get closer to the stadium and we get closer to kickoff of Super Bowl 49.
And don't forget, Boling, colleague Kenny Via and I will have the live game chat from University of Phoenix Stadium press box throughout the game, beginning at about 3 p.m. Seattle time today.