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Could the Patriots Have Beaten the Seahawks?

What if New England had beaten Denver? Would the Patriots have given the Seahawks a game?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the NFL offseason, everyone.

There are few periods on the sports calendar more depressing than the few weeks after the Super Bowl. There are no meaningful games on, baseball hasn't started yet, we're a full month away from March Madness, and it's about as far from football as it gets. Add to that the fact that it's cold, gray, and miserable outside, and February takes the cake as the worst month of the year. We have a silver lining this year with the 2014 Winter Olympics set to start on Thursday, but for the most part it's Depressed City, population me for the next few months.

There is one thing that this time of year is good for, though: completely pointless debates. The NFL offseason is the perfect time for experts and fans alike to engage in a series of random guesses, absurd speculation, and inane arguments. Nobody ever has any clue how the league landscape is going to change between the end of the Super Bowl and the beginning of the following season, so all we as fans can really do is hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and hang around twiddling our thumbs until free agency and the 2014 Draft gives us something to talk about.

And since this is the time of year to ask whole lot of what ifs, I may as well kick things off with the first ridiculous question of the offseason:

Could the New England Patriots have beaten the Seattle Seahawks last night?

We all saw the game; Seattle absolutely destroyed Denver. That game was over from the first snap and at no point was it even remotely close. Seattle was hungry, the defense was absolutely rabid, and Peyton Manning looked like...well, Peyton Manning in his record setting 12th playoff loss. It was clear that the Seahawks wanted it more, and the result was one of the biggest blowouts in Super Bowl history.

But what if it was the Patriots in that game? What if the refs never called that bogus penalty against the Jets in overtime, the AFC Championship Game was in Foxboro, and the Patriots had beaten the Broncos? Would Super Bowl XLVIII have had a similar result?

On one hand, we all saw what the Seahawks did to the greatest offense in NFL history. If Thomas, Decker, Welker, the other Thomas, Tamme, and Moreno couldn't get anything going against the Seahawks D, I can't imagine how Julian Edelman and Aaron Dobson would be able to even get past the line of scrimmage. Seattle's pass rush was dominant, and New England's offensive line had trouble protecting Brady all year. The Seahakws are amazingly stout against the run, and I doubt New England would be able to get either Blount or Ridley going. Seeing how the Patriots couldn't do anything when the rushing attack was stymied, it's tough to make a case for them having a chance against a defense playing absolutely out of its mind last night.

On the other hand, there is absolutely no way that Bill Belichick gets as unbelievably outcoached as John Fox did last night. Some of Fox's calls were absolutely mind-boggling, from a horrible challenge to pitiful 3rd and 4th down playcalling to outsmarting himself with that pooch kick to start the half and everything in between. And while Fox can't take all of the blame (isn't Peyton Manning a head coach as well out there? Doesn't he always call the plays at the line and audible to the best matchup at all times), Pete Carroll basically grabbed Fox by his wrists and forced him to slap himself in the face for 60 straight minutes, all the while saying "quit hitting yourself! Quit hitting yourself!" as everyone looked on and laughed. Belichick would definitely have found a way to keep this game much closer than Denver did. One of Seattle's major weaknesses is their linebackers in coverage, and so Shane Vereen could have potentially had a huge day out of the backfield. Maybe the Patriots throw a lot of RB screens, open up the middle with the playaction, and find a way to control the clock.

What do you think? Would New England have had a chance last night against Seattle?