Heading in to the Superbowl, Marshawn Lynch has already made his impact on the 2014-2015 NFL season. With one game left to play, Lynch and the Seahawks will be looking for one more victory, and another ring. Seattle and New England haven't played since October, 14 of 2012. That's just over 2 years ago. The final result of that game came down to one point, with Seattle winning 24-23. While there is no guarentee that this game will be as close as that one, the stage is set for a classic dual between two great coaches, and two great teams.
Marshawn Lynch ended the 2014-2015 season in 5th place for most rushing yards, with 1,306 yards coming off of 280 carries. With stats like that, Lynch was averaging 4.7 yards per carry. In addition, Lynch finished the season with 13 rushing touchdowns. Not a bad season as running backs go. What stats fail to explain though, is the style of a running back. Marshawn Lynch is a hard nosed, evasive runner. What he lacks in speed (which isn't much) he quickly makes up for in his ability to find the whole, and punish defenders who try to slide to cover it. Lynch's theory is to hit whoever is making the tackle five times as hard as they're hitting him. This motto becomes evident in the fact that Lynch had a league leading 109 broken tackles on runs this season. So he broke a few tackles, what's the big deal? Well, the next highest tackle breaking back this season was DeMarco Murray, with 38 fewer attempts... despite 117 more rushing attempts than Lynch. Wilfork and company will be called upon to bring down a wrecking ball of a runner, and more in this game.
Not only has Marshawn Lynch managed to create illustrious stats for himself with his tackle breaking style, but he's managed to contribute to the success of the entire Seahawks squad when he is running well. In games that Lynch has at least 20 carries, the Seahawks are 24 games over .500, meaning the Seahawks have won 24 more than half of their games when Lynch runs enough. Also, when Lynch breaks off one of his classic "Beast Mode" runs, and stampedes for over 20 yards in one run, the Seahawks also are 24 games over .500, and Lynch can usually be counted on to make the earth shake on the big stage.
With a substantial linebacking corp and defensive line, the Patriots have managed to nullify many interior run games. The Patriots have gone 4-0 this season when not allowing more than 40 yards up the middle, in contrast they've only gone 2-4 when they allow more than 40 yards up the middle. Now where the key matchup comes in, Marshawn Lynch led the league in yards up the middle this season. So Lynch being a key for the Seahawks will require more than a beast quake, but some hard hitting yards up the center.
Unlike most running backs, Lynch's production increases as his carries increase. He is figuratively and literally a snowball when it comes to rushing stats. This season, Lynch averaged 4.4 yards on carries 11-20. Now, as we know 20 is the magic number for the Seahawks to pull off a win, but even more substantial is the fact that after 20, meaning carries 21-30, Lynch averages a whopping 5.5 yards per carry. Lynch is not the kind of running back to be worn down over the course of the game, and we can all expect this Superbowl to be a long one, with two strong defenses and savvy offenses, this game could come down to one run in the 4th quarter. So what do you think, will we be feeling the quake this early in the year, or will Wilfork and the Pats be able to cage up the beast?