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WR Sidney Rice - Seattle Seahawks

6-2, 200Born: 9-1-1986College: South CarolinaDrafted: Round 2

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Photo: Steven Bisig, US Presswire

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Week 21: at New England Patriots

Mark and Joe say: Neutral matchup. Russell Wilson survived one of the worst passing performances of NFL playoff history during the NFC Conference Championship - he was awful for the first 57 minutes of regulation (ending the day with 14/29 for 209 yards passing, one TD and four interceptions thrown, with five sacks taken for -25 yards, nine other hits taken and a fumble - he posted 7/25/1 rushing), but managed to make two clutch throws after his teammates got Seattle into a miraculous OT period, finding Doug Baldwin for a 35-yard first down reception and then Jermaine Kearse for the game-winning 35-yard TD before the Packers could touch the football during the extra period. It was easily Wilson's worst game of the entire season and post-season (and probably his worst game as a passer during his NFL career). Basically, there is nowhere to go but up for Wilson in the Super Bowl. Usually, Wilson is very reliable and steady from week to week - we think the Conference Championship melt-down was an aberration and not the beginning of a trend for Seattle's signal caller. Doug Baldwin was reliable for Wilson two weeks ago (nine targets for 6/106/0 receiving), but Jermaine Kearse (six for 1/35/1) and Luke Willson (five for 2/11/0) struggled to accomplish much against the Packers - Wilson's tough day at the office contributed to the difficulties endured by Kearse and Willson. The Patriots finished regular season ranked 17th vs. opposing passers, averaging 239.8 net passing yards allowed per game, with 24 passing scores surrendered vs. 16 interceptions (tied for 12th in the NFL) and 40 sacks (ted for 13th) generated over 16 games. This is a so-so bunch of defenders on their best weeks. Joe Flacco wasn't sacked at all during the Divisional Round of the playoffs, with 28/45 for 292 yards passing, four TDs and two interceptions thrown at Foxboro. Andrew Luck fared much worse there during the Conference Championship, with 12/33 for 126 net yards passing, zero TDs and two interceptions thrown (Luck wasn't sacked at all during the game, either). The Patriots enter the Super Bowl off a strong showing in this phase of the game. On balance, this looks like a neutral matchup, with neither side holding a big edge over the other.

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