It’s the grand-daddy of them all, the Super Bowl. For the first time, the game will take place in the cold-weather environment of MetLife Stadium located in East Rutherford, New Jersey, about 8 miles west of New York City.
Weather won’t be a big factor with there being a ZERO percent chance of precipitation, and temperatures expected to be in the low 30s at game-time.
As for the match-up, it will feature the Seattle Seahawks and the league’s number 1 rated defense, against the Denver Broncos and the NFL’s number 1 rated offense.
The long-standing notion is that “Defense wins championships”. We’ll know if that’s still the case when the clock strikes zero on Sunday night.
The Broncos offense led by Peyton Manning was record setting in 2013. Manning set the all-time regular season marks for touchdown passes with 55, and passing yards with 5,477. Denver averaged over 10 more points per game than any other team in the league. This pass-first offense led by Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, and Julius Thomas will be put to the test against Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” secondary.
The rushing attack clearly isn’t as deadly as the passing attack, but when given the chance, Knowshon Moreno is more than capable of getting the job done. Moreno ran for 1,038 yards in the regular season, and has added another 141 yards in 2 post-season games. In order to put the Seahawks in a difficult situation, the Broncos offense would be wise to build as big a lead as possible to force Russell Wilson into beating Denver through the air.
Unlike the Broncos offense, the Seahawks offense is built on the running game with Marshawn Lynch. After eclipsing the 100-yard mark just 3 times during the regular season, “Beast Mode” has taken full effect in the post-season with Lynch rushing for a combined 249 yards in Seattle’s previous two playoff games. Lynch faces a touch task against the Broncos defensive line which held the Patriots to 64 yards on the ground in the AFC Championship game. Quarterback Russell Wilson hasn’t been asked to do much thus far and in order to match the Broncos high powered offense, Wilson will have to be in full attack mode. Percy Harvin is returning for the Seahawks and has a chance to be a big-time game breaker that Wilson desperately needs.
Broncos – Russell Wilson isn’t in the same book as Peyton Manning and Marshawn Lynch has a tough match-up with the Broncos defensive line.
If the Seahawks are going to win this game, Seattle’s trademark “Legion of Boom” secondary is going to have to have a huge game. That means Richard Sherman shutting down Demaryius Thomas, Earl Thomas shutting down Julius Thomas, and Byron Maxwell preventing Wes Welker from catching the ball in the open field.
The defensive line is also going to have to make Peyton Manning as uncomfortable as possible. Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Chris Clemons, and Bruce Irvin can’t allow Peyton to have time in the pocket, because if he does, you will pay. During the regular season, the Seahawks defense led the NFL in opponents points per game, total yards per game, and forced a league high 39 turnovers. The margin of error for this defense is as close to zero as it gets.
Denver’s defense actually matches up really well with Seattle’s offense. Terrence Knighton and Danny Trevathan were both huge in making the Patriots rushing attack a non-factor in the AFC title game. It’s going to take a similar, if not better effort in this one to contain Marshawn Lynch. If Seattle falls behind, then Russell Wilson will be forced to beat the NFL’s 27th rated pass defense, and with Percy Harvin back in the fold, the Seahawks passing attack will be as dynamic as its been all season. The good thing for Denver is Dominique Rodgers Cromartie, Champ Bailey, and Mike Adams have had opposing offenses throw, and throw some more against them. The Super Bowl shouldn’t be much different. Remember if the Broncos win, safety Mike Adams said he would walk from the stadium to his Patterson, New Jersey home.
Seahawks – As well as the Broncos defense has played in the playoffs, it still doesn’t compare to what might be the best defense the NFL has seen since the 2000 Ravens.
Kicker: Steven Hauschka vs. Matt Prater
Punter: Jon Ryan vs. Britton Colquitt
Return Man: Percy Harvin vs. Trindon Holliday
MetLife Stadium is known for its swirling winds. For the Super Bowl though, winds are expected out of the northwest at around 8 MPH, which isn’t too bad.
Broncos kicker Matt Prater has had a suburb season, making 25 of 26 kicks during the regular season. In the post-season, his only blemish came from 47-yards out the Denver’s divisional round game against the Chargers. Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka has also missed only 2 kicks this season, and is 6 for 6 in the playoffs.
In the punting game, Denver’s Britton Colquitt averages 2 more yards per punt than his counterpart Jon Ryan.
Percy Harvin will play for the Seahawks, how much and what role remains to be seen. If Harvin is 100 percent though, there’s no reason to believe he won’t return to his kick returning role for Seattle in the Super Bowl. When healthy, Harvin is one of the most dangerous return playmakers in the sport. Denver’s Trindon Holliday is a flat out speedster, his ability to hold onto the football is his biggest problem.
Seahawks – Trindon Holliday’s potential to fumble a punt away gives the special teams edge to Seattle.
I believe that Peyton Manning is on a mission to win this game in order to permantently cement his legacy as the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. I think that Russell Wilson will not be able to carry the Seahawks to victory, and Manning will earn his coveted 2nd ring.
Broncos 24 Seahawks 14