This is the first year in a long time where, early in the season, I can remember having a pretty good idea which two teams would play in the Super Bowl and then those two teams actually making it to the Super Bowl. Aside from maybe the 49ers — who had a fantastic team this year — the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks have seemed like the NFL’s two best teams for pretty much the entire season.
Who can forget the Broncos crushing the defending champion Ravens in week one behind an NFL record seven (!) touchdown passes from Peyton Manning? And everyone remembers the drubbings that Seattle seemed to put on teams almost every week.
On Sunday, these two teams will meet on football’s greatest stage. The number one offense versus the number one defense. Both teams are worthy of being Super Bowl champions, but only one can prevail.
The Denver Broncos Win If…
(1) Peyton Manning remains relatively untouched
If the Broncos’ offensive line can give Peyton Manning enough time to make his reads and get off his passes, it’s going to be a long day for the Seahawks. Manning is so good at not only reading defenses at the line of scrimmage, but also getting the ball out quick and anticipating where his receivers will be. The Seahawks will need to try to pressure Manning and force him out of a rhythm.
(2) They limit the Seahawks rushing attack
Everyone knows about Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch and his thunderous runs of the past few years. In addition, Russell Wilson has proven to be no slouch when it comes to running with the football when necessary.
To win this game, the Broncos defense just can’t allow too many points. Despite the fact that their offense is so potent, I just don’t think Denver will put up anywhere near the 37.9 points per game they have averaged during the regular season.
Stopping the Seahawks running game will be priority number one, since once Seattle proves it can run the ball, they can open up the play action passing game and let Wilson take some shots downfield.
(3) Force Russell Wilson into uncharacteristic turnovers
Part of the recipe for Denver’s success this season was to get the ball in Peyton Manning’s hands. If Peyton Manning has more scoring opportunities, the likelihood of him and the Broncos offense putting up a lot of points increases.
One way to get more scoring opportunities is to take the ball away from the other team. With Russell Wilson being just a second year QB, Denver needs to make him uncomfortable and try to force him into making some bad decisions under pressure. If successful, this could be a gold mine for the Denver offense.
The Seattle Seahawks Win If…
(1) Their secondary disrupts the Broncos receivers
By playing physical and forcing the Denver receivers out of their normal routes, the Seahawks defense can prevent the Broncos’ offense from getting comfortable, which in turn will prevent Peyton Manning from getting into a rhythm.
With big, physical defensive backs, it’s absolutely important for Seattle to get off to a high energy start. The last thing they want to do is let Manning sit back and pick them apart.
(2) They win the time of possession
This one is pretty simple. Possess the ball, keep Peyton Manning off the field, and prevent the Broncos from scoring points.
When you prevent the other team from scoring a lot of points, it increases the chances that your team will win. This has to be a top priority for Seattle.
(3) They win the turnover battle
This goes pretty much hand in hand with the time of possession battle, but it extremely important for the Seahawks — namely quarterback Russell Wilson — to take care of the ball for a couple of reasons.
One, obviously, is that keeping the ball increases a team’s probability of scoring. That’s simple math.
The second reason is that Russell Wilson is playing in by far the biggest game of his young career. While he’s historically been very good and taking care of the football, it will be imperative for his confidence, as well as the confidence of his teammates, to possess the ball and put some productive drives together early.
I think this game will be close throughout. In fact, I think it has the potential to be an all-time great Super Bowl.
I expect Peyton Manning to turn in a solid performance as he looks to etch his name further into NFL quarterback royalty. Even against the best defense in football, I expect him to get his stats and for the Broncos to put up points.
Despite that, I think Seattle will prevail in this game. Their defense is confident and borderline cocky, but they back it up on the field with their terrifying play. They have a poised young quarterback in Russell Wilson who has a great head on his shoulders and doesn’t make many mistakes. I expect him to make just enough plays to help his team win.
Prediction – Seahawks 27, Broncos 24