Super Bowl XLVIII treats fans to battle of No. 1s

By
Updated: February 1, 2014

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will be vying to take home his second Lombardi Trophy in the same year he won his NFL-record fifth league MVP award.

It’s not every year that NFL fans are treated to the Super Bowl match-up everyone was looking forward to before the season began.

Fortunately, 2014 is one of those years.

In the lead-up to the 2013 season, the consensus favorites were the Seattle Seahawks (15-3) for the NFC and the Denver Broncos (15-3) for the AFC.

And yet even after Seattle and Denver ascended to the top seeds in their respective conferences, it was hardly a foregone conclusion that they would meet up in the biggest game of them all.

In fact, this will be just the  that the Super Bowl has showcased both top seeds. The last time it happened, in 2009, the Indianapolis Colts, helmed by none other than quarterback Peyton Manning, fell to the New Orleans Saints.

Super Bowl XLVIII will test the age-old aphorism that defense wins championships, as for just the first time since 1990 — and only the fifth time in Super Bowl history — the league’s most prolific offense squares off against the league’s stingiest defense.

The top defense has taken home the Lombardi Trophy in three of those four contests, which bodes well for the Seahawks. But that doesn’t mean they can afford to overlook the Broncos on Sunday night.

Explosive offense

This is a Denver team that obliterated previous NFL scoring records, scoring 606 points in the regular season and crushing their opponents by an average of almost 13 points per contest.

This is an offense lead by Peyton Manning, newly minted the league’s e. No other player in NFL history has taken home MVP honors more than three times.

In terms of passing efficiency, this was not Manning’s best year. That would be 2004, when he rewrote the record books, averaging an incredible 9.2 yards per attempt and throwing 49 touchdowns in just 495 passing attempts to finish with a passer rating of 121.1.

That doesn’t change the fact that he was nothing short of spectacular in 2013. Compensating for flagging arm strength with veteran wile, he racked up an NFL-record 5,477 yards on 659 attempts to lead all full-season starters at 8.2 yards per attempt. In the process, he tossed 55 touchdowns — another league record — while throwing just 10 interceptions, notching a rating of 115.1.

In two postseason games, he has averaged 8.0 yards per attempt and completed an immaculate 72.2 percent of his passes for 630 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception, good for a rating of 107.0.

Suffocating defense

What this means is that the Denver Broncos are a sure bet in this game, right? Not so fast.

No one defended the pass better this year than the Seattle Seahawks.

They positively squelched opponents, giving up a minuscule 5.8 yards per attempt and holding teams to an absurd average of 172 passing yards per game. Only the Tennessee Titans (15) surrendered fewer passing touchdowns than the Seahawks, who allowed 16 on the season.

Seattle came up with 28 interceptions — almost two per game — to lead the league and sacked opposing quarterbacks 44 times, which ranked them eighth.

It was also extremely difficult to rush on the Seahawks, who ranked seventh in yards per game (101.6) and yards per carry (3.9) given up. They were also stout on the goal line, admitting just four rushers into the end zone all year.

Not surprisingly, Seattle dominated the league in scoring defense. Opponents scored a scant total of 231 points in the regular season, a mere 14.4 points per game.

Their performance has slipped slightly in the postseason, however. In two games, they have allowed 6.9 yards per passing attempt and 224 yards per game. They have also been gouged for a worrisome 5.0 yards per carry and 134.5 rushing yards per game.

On the other hand, they have only given up two passing touchdowns, two rushing scores, and a grand total of 32 points.

Give and take

So what does all of this tell us about the game tomorrow? Probably not as much as we’d like.

The Denver Broncos have to be happy that the action will play out on a neutral field, where the Seattle Seahawks won’t enjoy the benefit of their infamous “.” Super Bowl crowds are notoriously quiet, populated as they are more by locals, celebrities, and corporate types than rabid fans of the teams on the field.

Indeed, as of January 30th, more than had been purchased by New York residents.

On the other hand,  Seattle fans have purchased significantly more tickets than Denver fans have, so they will be doing their best to give their beloved Seahawks every possible advantage in the Meadowlands.

Then again, the weather will work in the Broncos’ favor. Although FOX has commissioned special technology to highlight the ever-present possibility of  at MetLife Stadium, the network probably won’t have much to show. Conditions are projected to be balmy — , breezes of up to five miles per hour, and a gradual decline of about five degrees by the time the final gun sounds.

In any case, if Peyton Manning dishes up another spectacular postseason collapse, it won’t be due to a New York blizzard.

Against a ferocious secondary spearheaded by cornerback Richard Sherman, Manning will find open receivers downfield a scarce commodity. That won’t bother him much, though, as the deep pass hasn’t been his weapon of choice in years.

Look for Manning to shift into quick-strike mode early, chewing up whatever short yardage Seattle is willing to concede. Tight end Julius Thomas (12 touchdowns this year) and running back Knowshon Moreno (13 touchdowns) will play important roles as check-down options.

Although Denver proved multiple times this season that they were able to come back from major deficits, it’s difficult to envision even their high-flying aerial attack overpowering a suffocating Seattle defense that seems to get better as the game wears on. Denver’s best bet will be to jump out to an early lead and keep their questionable defense fresh for the second half.

Manning is not at all averse to “running up the score” in the fourth quarter, so if the Broncos can put up 20 or more points before the break, Seattle’s offense will be hard pressed to mount an effective response.

That being said, Denver can’t afford to let Seattle hang around through three quarters, because the opportunistic Seahawks will find a way to seize on the slightest mistake and turn it to their advantage.

Rattling Manning will play to Seattle’s strengths. If there is one thing that Manning hates, it’s being hit. Seattle needs to put him on the ground early and often.

Keeping it to a one- or two-possession game will put the Seahawks in prime position to make a big play late. 

Prediction

I have the utmost espect for the Seattle Seahawks defense. They play the game the way I wish every team played it, with an aggressive and gritty focus on fundamentals. They find ways to get off the field and put the ball back in the hands of their offense.

Against almost any other opponent, I think the Seahawks would have the clear advantage.

And yet, as averse as I am to bandwagons, I can’t help climbing on this one. This Broncos offense might not be the greatest of all time, but it sure is special.

This is one game in which I think, as cliché as it sounds, Peyton Manning is not to be denied. He has had two weeks to prepare for this defense, and no amount of guile Seattle can throw at him will confuse him for long.

This game has the potential to be one of the most amazing Super Bowls we’ve witnessed in years. It could also easily turn out to be one of the ugliest. I think it will be a taut, tightly contested game that will keep us glued to the screen until the last tick expires.

Final score: Denver Broncos 27, Seattle Seahawks 21

About the author(s)

Rourke Douglas Decker covers the Green Bay Packers beat for Water Cooler Sports. He resides with his family in the Twin Cities. He can be reached for questions or comments at . Connect with .

186 comments
thebaskett
thebaskett

i hate that their is 2 weeks of build up for the superbowl.. by the day of, i just want it to be overwith

Maized and Confused
Maized and Confused

The prediction I made on the 99.1 show was a 27-24 Broncos victory, weather permitting.

I guess I'll stick by that.

thebaskett
thebaskett

any drinking games for this SB? like every time joe buck makes an ass out of himself.. or everytime manning is refference as one of the best qb's of al time

thebaskett
thebaskett

i guess i would be excited about lacey too... its the first time a packer oroy in over 40 years..not that that is a bad thing.. just that it hasnt happened in this millennium

but any way..

Drew Brees = Tony Romo
Drew Brees = Tony Romo moderator

If the Vikings (and Patterson) weren't retarded and found ways to get CPatt involved earlier in the year, he'd have been my choice for OROY.

Drew Brees = Tony Romo
Drew Brees = Tony Romo moderator

BWC, if you see this, eat shit. Badgers 1-5 in their last 6 since you claimed we could go undefeated.

Maized and Confused
Maized and Confused

I don't have a problem with it. I'd rather have both teams as healthy as possible.

It's no worse than having the Packers (or your favorite team) on a bye week, IMO.

gatrbuc17
gatrbuc17 moderator

 Yeah it sux for us passionate FB fans but them people gotta get paid too.

gatrbuc17
gatrbuc17 moderator

 Seattle creates at least 3 TO's and that's how they win.

gatrbuc17
gatrbuc17 moderator

 I say he gets sacked 4 times at least and hit a Bunch.

gatrbuc17
gatrbuc17 moderator

 Im going to a party next door and one of the guys is a Sous Chef. He is cooking his "Famous Chili".

And the other dude is from Seattle so he has to buy the Captain for everyone.....................Hope I  remember the game

bp.
bp. moderator

 Beer.

Home made pretzels

Key Lime Pie

Cheese and Cracker platter

Guacamole dip

Brats and various other pig-based sausages

Maized and Confused
Maized and Confused

I've got Steaks marinating in the fridge as we speak. Also nachos and a New Belgium sampler pack.

thebaskett
thebaskett

I cant decide between wings or nachos

bp.
bp. moderator

 See how just below MKE and I were not be asshats?

thebaskett
thebaskett

you mean frazier.. and we cant win all the oroys

bp.
bp. moderator

 Seems to be the most talented offensive player from this class, no doubt.

bp.
bp. moderator

 I think the moment he said they were better than the undefeated Bruins was when the universe had had enough.

gatrbuc17
gatrbuc17 moderator

 Yeah you guys are trying your hardest to turn our quality loss into a bad one

gatrbuc17
gatrbuc17 moderator

 Its how we beat Oakland when we were No.1 D and they were No.1 O. FIVE picks and two taken to the House.

Drew Brees = Tony Romo
Drew Brees = Tony Romo moderator

 This was my one regret when the Packers won it in 2010. I was little too drunk. i only remember (vaguely) the big plays. I DVR'd it though, thank God. 

bp.
bp. moderator

 I was gonna do chili, but I am having a pretty big group of people next weekend and want to just make a gigantic batch then.

bp.
bp. moderator

I don't even know, so I will ask: did Harvin and AP both win it?  

Moss must have.

Maized and Confused
Maized and Confused

Which isn't good, considering Florida only plays like 5 ranked teams this year.

gatrbuc17
gatrbuc17 moderator

 I was stone cold sober for ours thank God. I don't remember last yrs At ALL though. I had to ask myself earlier who even played>

bp.
bp. moderator

 I never drink in Lambeau for this very reason.  I did this last game though, so I could say I ate beer.

gatrbuc17
gatrbuc17 moderator

 Yeah , Its not worth making unless you make a shit ton of it

Maized and Confused
Maized and Confused

Yeah, we struggled at first after losing our 2 best players to the NBA draft, and then McGary went down, it was a recipe for instability. But Beilein is a hell of a talent evaluator and developer.

gatrbuc17
gatrbuc17 moderator

 Yeah you guys have had a weird season. Still gonna get a good seed in the tourney. All that matters anyways

Maized and Confused
Maized and Confused

Yeah. I'm still upset Michigan lost to Arizona by 2 points.

All our losses but one came to teams that are currently top 10, and none of them were by big margins. Michigan is great at losing close games. But they seem to have finally found their groove, thank God.

gatrbuc17
gatrbuc17 moderator

 Yeah I know. But weve beaten Kansas and Memphis and our only losses are to Wisc by 5 in Wisc, second game of yr, and UConn in Uconn on a crazy buzzerbeater prayer