This Super Bowl may be one of the most evenly matched, and highly anticipated in the past couple of years.
It will truly be the best offense in the NFL (perhaps ever) in the Denver Broncos going on to face the best defense in the NFL in the Seattle Seahawks. There has not been a Super Bowl in quite a while where I could not firmly pick a team or even sway to their side. These teams are both definitely the best two teams in the NFL, and I do not think I could have said that for a long time in a Super Bowl Matchup.
Super Bowl XLVIII is actually the first time the #1 Scoring Offense will face the #1 Scoring Defense.
Here is my breakdown in which I will give the edge to either team based off of different aspects of the game.
Statistically, Peyton Manning has had the best season for any NFL Quarterback. Some of these stats could be attributed to the fact that the NFL is getting much ‘softer’ and Quarterbacks get away with a lot more as far as protection and penalties.
Still, Manning is a legend. Whether the Broncos win or lose this game, everyone still knows how great Manning is as a quarterback and it is hard to go against him.
Russell Wilson is a great young Quarterback as well. It is very impressive to remember that Wilson is only in his 2nd year in the NFL. In Russell’s first season, he led the Seattle Seahawks to an 11-5 regular season record and went 1-1 for the playoffs. This season the Russell has led the Seahawks to a 13-3 record and are currently 2-0 in the playoffs. His total record in his first 2 years of his career, including playoffs, is 27-9. This record is second best to only Ben Roethlisberger and will be tied if the Seahawks go on to win the Super Bowl.
Like Big Ben, Russell Wilson is in a Super Bowl in only his sophomore season. Also like Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson has an outstanding team around him. Furthermore, both of these teams (2005 Steelers, 2013 Seahawks) had top-5 Defenses.
Update: Just to extend on this Steelers 2005 Defense comparison. I am not comparing the two defenses in anyway saying one is better than the other. Actually, The 2013 is definitely better than the 2005 Steelers defense. The point I am trying to make is that the success of Ben Roethlisberger in 2005 was aided primarily to his stellar defense. The Steelers had the #4 defense in the league in 2005, and a lot of those players were in their prime. Ben Roethlisberger is a great QB, don’t get me wrong, but it is hard to believe he would be a 2005 Super Bowl winner if it was not for the defense he had. Just like Russell Wilson this year. He is a great QB and has a very bright future ahead of him, but the Seattle Seahawks would not be in the Super Bowl without their stellar defense. The point of this article is to give an edge to one team, and this is my argument for why I give the Broncos the edge. In short, the Seahawks would not be in the Super Bowl (most likely) if it was not for their Defense, whereas the Broncos for sure would not be in the Super Bowl if it was not for Peyton Manning (therefore, I give the edge to the Broncos).
I still feel Russell Wilson is growing into himself. He really does not have all the playmakers around him on offense for his production to be over the top and Peyton is having a phenomenal season.
Knowshon Moreno has had a pretty good season, rushing for over 1,000 yards and scoring 13 touchdowns. He is a solid running back, but not a feature back. Moreno really only gets his chunks of yards and touchdowns based on the game plan the Broncos have. He also shares time with Monte Ball.
Marshawn Lynch, a.k.a. “Beast Mode,” is an elite runner in NFL. His aggressive play is admired and appreciated by team mates. He is a top 5 rusher in the league and also managed double digit touchdowns for the third straight year. Although he dealt with injuries early in his career, he has finally reached his potential with the Seahawks. Lynch will be play a huge factor in Super Bowl XLVIII.
The Broncos feature some of the best Wide Receivers in the entire National Football League. All three of their starting receivers have double digit TDs in Decker, Welker, and Demaryius Thomas.
We all know about Welker. He is arguably the best possession receiver in the entire league. He is unstoppable at times and is a nightmare matchup problem out of the slot. Welker is a guy that is going to get a lot of receptions, a lot of first down looks, and a lot of easy touchdowns. Demaryius Thomas is a prototypical #1 wide receiver. He is a massive guy who plays extremely physical. He put up over 1,400 yards this season and scored 14 TDs. Eric Decker is a guy that just seems to always get open, especially with the holes in coverage left by Demaryius, Julius, and Welker. Denver also has speedy receiver Andre Caldwell who has made some plays down the stretch of the season.
The Seahawks have a handful of play makers at the Wide Receiver position, but really just do not have a premiere guy. Golden Tate has proven himself as reliable, but is really nothing more than a 2 receiver. Doug Baldwin has taken over the slot role, with Percy Harvin out a majority of the year, and has been impressive. His regular season stat line is 50 receptions for 778 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is a big play guy, but still is not going to produce game in and game out. Looking at his game log from 2013, there are plenty of games where he went quiet. He had SEVEN games where he had 2 or less receptions (5 games with only 1 reception, 1 game with 0, and 1 game with 2). Baldwin also never, not one time, had a 100-yard receiving game. I can see him making plays in this Super Bowl, just because he has seemed to be clutch at times, but still he is not a receiver who will take over a game.
After speaking with many Seahawks fans, I must add Jermaine Kearse here. He seems to have made some clutch plays throughout the season but still only finished the year with 22 receptions for 346 yards and 4 TDs. I might add that he never had more than 3 receptions in any game this season and had 8 games where he had 1 or 0 receptions. His season high in yards was only 75.
Sidney Rice is an outstanding receiver but has been injured the majority of the season and was placed on IR earlier this season. The X-factor here in the receiver position is Percy Harvin. He is an outstanding receiver coming out of the slot and can stretch the field. He makes the yards after catch plays and is truly a dynamic receiver. Again though, he is not really a true #1 guy. Furthermore, he may not even be entire healthy.
Obviously, a lot of this receiver productivity is built into an offensive philosophy. The Seahawks are a run-heavy offense, whereas the Broncos are a pass-heavy offense. Still, you cannot deny the numbers and the production that the Broncos receiving corp have put up in 2013.
This one is easy for me. The Seahawks have a solid Tight End in Zach Miller, but definitely not a dynamic one. He has put up decent numbers over his career with one Pro-Bowl season (2010 Antonio Gates did not go because of injury). He is reliable at times, but really only good for a couple plays a game in this offense.
The Broncos on the other hand have Pro-Bowler Julius Thomas who is outstanding. He had 65 receptions for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. He has more receptions, yards, and touchdowns than the Seahawks two TE’s combined.
*Quick San Diego Perspective: Gates had 77 receptions for 872 yards this season, both better than Julius Thomas. Sure he only had 4 touchdowns compared to Thomas’ 12, but Gates is getting double teamed all game long all year long, especially in the redzone. It’s kind of pathetic to think people say Gates ‘slowed down’ this year and is getting no respect.
Anyways, Julius Thomas is by far a stud.
Last year the Broncos seemed to be much more balanced. Their defense was ranked #2 in the league, as they dominated. This year they really have not played close to the level they did in 2012. With the loss of some players, and injuries of others, it has really hurt the Denver’s Defense in 2013. It seemed as if they were playing catchup all season in terms of a unit and getting back to 2012 form. The Von Miller injury will be another setback for a defense that has made strides in the end of the year. The Broncos also have a much weaker secondary than the Seattle Seahawks, who arguably have the best defensive backfield in the entire NFL.
The Seahawks are stout on defense all around. Their Secondary is scary. Cliff Avril is having a great season and Bruce Irvin and Michael Bennet have been helpful off the edge. They play team defense and work off one another. No player ever seems to be lost.
Seattle also has a tremendous shut down secondary. They can play off press, man, zone, can blitz, and are stout tacklers. They have a lot of guys in that front seven who are versatile in pass and rush coverage. They are virtually good all around the defense and have solid glue guys and depth.
Matchup to Watch: Denver Broncos entire Receiving Corp vs. Seattle Seahawks Defensive Backs.
This is going to be a fun matchup to watch. The “Legion of Boom” is by far the best group of Defensive Backs in the entire league. Richards Sherman, Byron Maxwell, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor are having outstanding seasons. It is crazy to think they lost a few other DB’s from suspensions. They have also received positive contributions from nickelback Jeremy Lane.
As we talked about before, the Broncos receiving corp is phenomenal. Demaryius Thomas is an absolute beast. Wes Welker is near unstoppable in the short passing game and redzone. Eric Decker is an underrated receiver himself. He puts up big numbers and has had back-to-back double digit touchdown seasons. If we throw in Julius Thomas, its crazy to think about.
Still, Seattle has lock down cornerbacks. Earl Thomas will take Julius Thomas out of the game. From their it is going to be how Richard Sherman plays Demaryius Thomas. The Seattle defense will have to scheme appropriately to double team either DT or Wes Welker. I would assume they will double cover Wes Welker with a guy underneath and either a safety or nickel back. If they can lock down Welker easier than expected, than they can give Sherman some help over the top with Demaryius Thomas.
Either way this is going to be an extremely exciting matchup to watch. Honestly, this is one of the first Super Bowls I have been excited about in a while.
EDGE: Seahawks – slight edge, this group of Defensive Backs may be the best ever.
This is extremely hard for me to pick. According to http://www.bovada.lv, an online betting site, the Broncos are currently favored by 3.
The spread is somewhat easy to believe. Broncos have an elite, outstanding offense, with an above-average (at times leaky) defense that has the potential to be a top 5 defense.
The Seahawks have an elite, outstanding defense, with an above average (at times leaky) offense. Do not buy the Seahawks being a top 5 offense, however. They have a great running game in Marshawn Lynch, who may very well be the x-factor. Lynch is their only true consistent playmaker. We saw a few weeks back when San Diego ran the ball down the throats of the Broncos and beat them on TNF. If the Seahawks can continue to run the ball effectively and keep Manning off the field, that will be the best chance for them to win.
It is really interesting to see how John Fox and the Denver Broncos’ game plan will play out. Maybe they will try to run the ball and come back in the passing game when Manning sees suit.
I am also really interested to see what kind of impact Percy Harvin has on this game. The Seahawks like getting big chunk plays and Russell Wilson seems to come in clutch for scores.
On paper it looks like the Broncos have the better team. But then again, the Seahawks have a pretty darn good team too. A few years/decades back people used to say Defense wins championships. It might not be like that anymore with Peyton Manning and his phenomenal season.
As a Chargers fan, my heart wants me to pick against the Broncos. That may be just too hard to do. I give the Broncos the edge but it will be a lower scoring game than usual for the Manning led offense.
Broncos 24 Seahawks 20