The Patriots average 42 ppg when rushing for 100+ yards. It is true. Take out the meaningless final game of the regular season when the Patriots did not play many of their starters, notably Tom Brady, and there were six games where New England ran for over 100 yards on the ground, including their last playoff game against Indianapolis. They averaged 42.0 points per game in those six contests, and won by an average of 27.5 points. That is just one example of why, despite all the attention on Brady and Russell Wilson, it will be the running games of both teams that decides this Super Bowl.
Seahawks run defense takes center stage
Forget L.O.B vs Brady and Gronk for a moment. Focus on the big fatties manning the L.O.S. The Seahawks run defense allowed a franchise-low 1,304 yards rushing this season. That is more than 200 yards less than their previous best (1,510 in 2005). The great Seahawks defenses from 2012 and 2013 were far more mercurial in defending the run. This is part of why a defense that took a step back in pass rush has remained incredibly tough to move the ball against overall.
Only the Broncos and the Lions held teams to fewer rushing yards this season, and only the Lions held teams to fewer yards per carry than the Seahawks (3.4). They have managed to remain tough even though they lost key cog Brandon Mebane. They allowed 79 yards rushing per game with Mebane and 83 ypg since with Kevin Williams taking over.
The team has, however, allowed over 130 yards rushing in each of their two playoff games. That would be a death sentence against the Patriots. Not only has New England crushed any team that allowed them to climb over the century mark, but all four of the Seahawks losses this year included an opponent that topped that number. Seattle had been 1-4 in those situations before winning their last three such games.
Holding the Patriots run game down is no guarantee of victory. The Ravens held them to 14 yards on 13 carries and still fell short. Failing to stop it, though, is almost certainly a loss.
Quality of Patriots opponents
New England played six games against run defenses in the top ten, when judged by yards per carry allowed. They put up an average of 66 yards rushing per game in those contests, and never topped 100 yards.
Legarrette Blount will get plenty of love this week after his 148 yard outburst against the Colts, but does anyone remember Jonas Gray? He was the last Patriots running back to eviscerate the Indy run defense and now barely sniffs the field. Blount had three carries for one yard against the Ravens, who happen to be ranked one spot behind the Seahawks run defense at third overall.
New England has yet to top 100 yards rushing against a top ten rush defense and average just 66 ypg in six games against them
The Patriots did have a decent game running against the best run defense in football, putting up 90 yards and 4.5 YPC versus Detroit. They are not toothless. There just has not been a game where they were able to prove themselves against a top-flight run defense. Seattle had two subpar games defending the run the past two weeks and will hopefully benefit from the two weeks of rest and the weaker opposing run offense.