This Sunday night, the Denver Broncos take on the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. It's a matchup of a Broncos team that scored more points in a single NFL season in the history of the game. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are the best defensive team in the league.
It's an even matchup between two teams that finished first in their conferences in the regular season and were favored to be in this game all year long.
Regular Season Straight Up: 168-87-1 (.659)
Playoffs Straight Up: 7-3 Playoffs Spread: 7-2-1
Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks (6:30 pm ET FOX)
The biggest matchup in the game will come when the Broncos offense is on the field because they scored an NFL record 37.9 points per game. When you can put up an average of 5 TDs per game you're really making some serious noise. The passing game is averaging 340 yards per game, which is by far the best in the league. They face a Seahawks defense that is 1st in the NFL by giving up 172 passing yards. Look at those numbers. Their total is nearly half of what Denver's offense is putting up. Something has to give.
It's fair to say that the Broncos offense hasn't faced a defense like this before while the Seahawks defense hasn't gone up against a QB like Peyton Manning. Sure, they were able to stifle an elite QB like Drew Brees of the Saints a couple of weeks ago, but Manning is having the best season in NFL history. If the Broncos passing game can put up 340 yards on this defense they are going to win or at least be in a very competitive. Will it happen? I don't know if the Seahawks will let it.
It's pretty simple for the Seahawks offense. Give the ball to Marshawn Lynch, who is the one of the best running backs in the game. I know that the media has made a big deal out of the fact that he's not willing to talk to them and that he's not good at interviews, but so what? That's not his job. His job is to run the ball. That's what he's great it.
The Seahawks offense ranks 4th in rushing (136 ypg) and they're facing a Broncos defense that is surprisingly good against the run by giving up 102 ypg, good for 7th in the league. What Seattle needs to do is establish that run game. If they fall behind 14-0, then stop running and rely on the pass they are going to lose. It needs to be a run dominated game for them.
Peyton Manning had the best year of any QB in NFL history. His 5,477 yards and 55 TD passes are both records that may not be broken for a long time. He has the kind of weapons that most QBs dream of, but he's also the guy that is making them better too. For Manning to really prove that he's one of the best QBs ever, he will have to play big.
It's not like the Seahawks defense is going to give Manning anything. They are the smartest defense in the league. Against the pass, they rarely get burned. You have to earn everything against them. While Manning may not be able to put up 350 yards and 4 TDs because the Seahawks defense is so good, what he has to do is make the plays when they are there. As a QB that's known for his intelligence, he has to play the smartest game of his life this Sunday night.
All you will hear about the Broncos offense is about how great Peyton Manning is. And that's fine. He's arguably the best QB ever that statistically had the best year in the history of the game, but he's not all they have. The Denver RB duo of Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball are very good. They may not run the ball 40 times because the passing game is so efficient, but they will do their part because they have to. If the defense keys on the pass so much then the run game is open.
The Seahawks running game is what carries them. QB Russell Wilson is a part of it too because he's known as a fast QB that scrambles at the right time and definitely contributes to the running game in addition to Marshawn Lynch. For Seattle to win he's going to have to make some plays with his arm too. The Broncos defense is solid across the board, but they aren't great. It's important for the Seahawks to be aggressive in passing the ball down the field. If Denver stacks the line to stop Lynch, run some play action, see if a receiver like Tate, Kearse or Harvin can get deep and trust Wilson to make the right play at the right time.
In Wilson's two years running the show he's showed a lot of poise. Now, in the biggest of his life, he has to make some huge plays to go along with it. I think he will. Seahawks win and Marshawn Lynch is the MVP.
Seattle 31 - Denver 27