State your case
Who will win Super Bowl XLVIII?
Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 23:01
by Curtis Lundstrom
Is there any question that it’s Denver’s year?
You’ve got a two-time Super Bowl champion running the franchise he won those rings with in John Elway. Leading his team his a future Hall of Famer and one of, if not the greatest quarterbacks, in NFL history in Peyton Manning.
At Manning’s disposal are three of the league’s most prolific receivers in Demarius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker. And don’t forget tight end Julius Thomas, as well as running backs Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball.
It’s the league’s highest-scoring offense in history with 606 points this season, setting countless records in what is an offense-driven league. Manning — the smartest quarterback in league history — just has too many weapons for even Seattle’s No. 1-ranked defense.
Denver is going to put up 20-plus points; they’re just too versatile and can beat you with the run game or the pass game.
So while everyone else will be watching the Broncos’ offense against the Seahawk defense, the game is going to be decided by the way Seattle’s offense performs against Denver’s defense.
In two playoff games, the Broncos have recorded six sacks, allowed just 129 total rushing yards (64.5 per game), 450 passing yards (225.0 per game) and 33 points (16.5 per game).
Let’s compare that to the Seahawks. In two playoff games, Seattle has three sacks, allowed 269 rushing yards (134.5 per game), 456 passing yards (228.0 per game) and 32 points (16 per game).
There’s no question Denver’s offense is heaps better than Seattle’s. Based on the playoff numbers, I’d give Seattle a slight edge due to turnovers created. Special teams, it’s a push.
So all things considered, it’s hard to argue against Denver as the better all-around complete team. Throw in a couple of X-factors like age — Seattle has zero players with Super Bowl experience — and location — MetLife Stadium isn’t CenturyLink Field — I just can’t see Seattle claiming its first ever Lombardi Trophy.
Denver 31, Seattle 20
by Logan Jones
Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson both rank in the top-five in long passing plays this season, but Denver’s defense has given up 37 passes of 25 yards or more this year, good for eighth-worst in the league at defending the long ball — bad news for Broncos fans.
Seattle’s defense has held teams to just a little more than 14 points a game this season, and they’ve done it with physicality and pressure unmatched by the rest of the league. The Seahawks give up the fewest passing yards per game, the fewest total yards per game and the fewest big plays of 25 or more yards per game — just 15.
Seattle’s secondary is an interception machine, totalling 28 this season. Though Manning will undoubtedly do his best to study Seattle’s defense, the pressure the Seahawks attack with will force him to make snap-decisions — one of the reasons the Seahawks force turnovers on 20 percent of their opponents’ drives, another league-leading mark.
Manning didn’t throw a single interception in the AFC Championship game and wasn’t sacked once. Unless he’s suddenly become a mobile new-school quarterback who can pick up first downs with his legs, those stats won’t be repeated against Seattle; the Seahawks pass rush has overwhelmed patient pocket-passers all year.
On the other side of the ball, Russell Wilson will benefit from the return of speedy wideout Percy Harvin. Denver’s defense will be forced to risk either single-covering the oft-injured Harvin or collapse its defense around him, leaving open opportunities for Harvin’s teammates downfield.
If history is any indication, defense does indeed win championships. All time, league-leading offenses are 10-8 in the Super Bowl — league-best defenses are 12-3.