(Bloomberg) — The Seattle Seahawks have the “12th Man”
and the New England Patriots have No. 12, Tom Brady.

Brady is appearing in his record sixth Super Bowl for the
Patriots and seeking to win a fourth title, tying Joe Montana
and Terry Bradshaw for the most by a quarterback in the game’s
49-year history. Brady’s 20 career postseason wins are more than
21 of the other 31 current National Football League franchises
have earned.

Brady’s playoff experience, and success, is one reason the
Patriots are listed as 1-point favorites over the defending-champion Seahawks for today’s Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona.
The Patriots will be trying to prevent the Seahawks from
becoming the NFL’s first repeat champions since Brady led New
England to back-to-back titles 11 years ago.

“You just rely on the experience that you have to temper
the emotions and the enthusiasm,” said Brady, who added he’ll
be 100 percent by game time after battling a head cold this
week. “It’s an emotional game, so you’ve got to let it all hang
out when you’re out there. It’s going to be a tough game.”

The oddsmakers’ favorite has won 33 of the prior 48 games
in the Super Bowl era, yet this marks just the third time that
the spread has been less than two points. The last time was in
1982, when Montana and the San Francisco 49ers topped the
Cincinnati Bengals 26-21 as 1-point favorites.

“I look at it as even,” said Super Bowl-winning coach
Dick Vermeil. “Neither team has a home-field advantage. I think
it’s going to come down to the best field goal kicker and to who
doesn’t turn the ball over or who takes it away.”

Turnover Advantage

The Seahawks, whose loud, supportive crowds have become
known as the 12th Man, overcame five turnovers in rallying to
beat the Green Bay Packers 28-22 in the National Football
Conference championship game. Mistakes have been amplified in
the Super Bowl, with teams that hold the turnover advantage in
the title game having a 36-3 record.

The Patriots had the NFL’s second-best turnover
differential this season and the Seahawks ranked fourth.

“Making a mistake in the Super Bowl can be a costly
mistake,” 2006 Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Hines Ward said
in an interview. “You may not get another opportunity. There’s
no more, ‘I’ll get it next time.’ There is no next time. So you
have to really have attention to detail.”

A year ago, the Denver Broncos’ opening snap sailed over
the head of quarterback Peyton Manning for a safety, sparking
the Seahawks to a 43-8 victory. The Broncos finished with four
turnovers in the game; the Seahawks had none.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has a 10-0 record
against opposing signal-callers with Super Bowl rings. He now
has a chance to beat Manning and Brady, who have seven combined
NFL MVP awards between them, in consecutive years.

‘Tremendous Honor’

“Two guys that I’ve looked up to since I was a little
kid,” said Wilson, 26, who is the youngest quarterback to start
two Super Bowls. “It’s a tremendous honor to be on the same
field. That’s history, and hopefully we can make some history.
Hopefully Tom doesn’t play too good.”

The Patriots are making their record-tying eighth Super
Bowl appearance, including the sixth during the tenure of Brady
and coach Bill Belichick. No other coach and quarterback tandem
has made more than four. The Patriots have lost their last two
trips to the Super Bowl, including in 2008, the last time the
game was held in Glendale.

Much of the focus leading up to this year’s Super Bowl has
been on the controversy nicknamed “Deflategate,” with the NFL
investigating whether the Patriots intentionally deflated
footballs they supplied and used in a 45-7 win against
Indianapolis in the American Football Conference championship
game.

Previous Violation

While the Patriots have denied wrongdoing, questions linger
around a franchise that has previously been penalized by the NFL
for violating league rules. Belichick and the Patriots in 2007
were fined a total of $750,000 and stripped of a first-round
draft pick after the team illegally videotaped opposing clubs’
hand signals during games.

“The Patriots are competitive year in and year out, but
there are a lot of current players right now that would believe
their success is based on their willingness to break the
rules,” said former NFL quarterback Mark Brunell, who is now an
ESPN analyst. “That may be in the minority and to a degree may
not be fair because they have good football players, good
coaches, but there are a fair number of players out there that
would consider them an organization that’s just unwilling to
play by the rules.”

This is the second straight year the Super Bowl has
featured the top seed from each conference. The Patriots had the
biggest point differential in the NFL, scoring 155 more points
than they allowed, and the Seahawks were second at +140.

Patriots’ Momentum

Former NFL quarterback Archie Manning, the father of Peyton
and Eli — the New York Giants’ quarterback — said he likes the
momentum the Patriots have gained in their passing game since
starting 2-2 this season.

“Some things have just fallen into place and they’ve got a
lot of weapons,” Archie Manning said this week in Phoenix. “I
think it’s going to be a great football game. I don’t see any
kind of blowout. I think it’s going to be a fourth quarter game
and it may even be a field goal difference.”

Brady has a chance to collect the 15th Super Bowl win by a
quarterback wearing jersey No. 12, more than twice as many as
any other number. With his three Super Bowl titles, he’s already
in the group that includes Bradshaw, Joe Namath, Bob Griese,
Roger Staubach, Ken Stabler and Aaron Rodgers.

Wilson last year became just the second Super Bowl
quarterback to wear No. 3, joining Daryle Lamonica, and the
first to win with the number on his uniform. Seahawks coach Pete
Carroll called Wilson the point guard of his team’s offense with
his ability to distribute the ball to players such as running
back Marshawn Lynch.

‘Dynamic Approach’

“He gives us such a dynamic approach to the quarterback
position,” Carroll said. “He’s such a tremendous passer, but
then he has the dynamic ability to get out of the pocket and
create. That’s not even to mention the leadership qualities, the
character that he brings, the tremendous competitiveness. He’s a
perfect fit for us.”

The betting line suggests the Patriots and Seahawks could
deliver one of the most evenly played Super Bowls in history.
The championship game still hasn’t had an overtime in its almost
five-decade run, yet it remains one of the most popular of the
hundreds of proposition bets offered by sportsbooks.

“Over the years we’ve gotten some tough losses, and
obviously we made it in ’07 and ’11, those were challenging
games,” said Brady, who’s lost his past two Super Bowl
appearances by a total of seven points. “They came down to the
wire and we lost. I don’t think those things discouraged me at
all. They just re-emphasized how hard and challenging it is to
get to this point and how challenging it is to win this game. I
have such an appreciation for it now.”

To contact the reporter on this story:
Erik Matuszewski in Phoenix at
matuszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Michael Sillup at
msillup@bloomberg.net
Rob Gloster, Jay Beberman