NGSC Sports

Denver v Seattle: A Super Bowl XLVIII Preview

Super Bowl XLVIII

Date: Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. EST

Location: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey

Television Channel: FOX

Online Streaming: FOXSportsGo.com

Mobile: FOX Sports Go app on Apple devices

Announcers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver, Erin Andrews

Halftime Show: Bruno Mars, Red Hot Chili Peppers

 

Super Bowl XLVIII is just around the corner, and it is probably one of the most exciting match-ups the NFL has had in a long time.  Looking back the last intriguing match-up between the two conference champion teams was the fifth seeded New York Giants versus the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.  Yes, last year we had the Harbaugh Bowl, but I am strictly talking team matchups and not their coaches.  This game has caught fire ever since Richard Sherman mentioned the name Crabtree. There are many tales to be told in this game, as both teams are polar opposites in many ways. The Broncos rely on the pass, where the Seahawks are all about the run.  Seattle is better at the pass (3rd) than the rush (7th).  Denver on the other hand. the Broncos have a better rush defense (7th) than a pass defense (26th).  We also have the number one offense (Broncos) versus the number one defense (Seahawks), and “old lion” versus “new lion” (Manning v Wilson) all under a snow capped New Jersey, MetLife Stadium field.

Denver’s offense has been unstoppable all year.  They scored 606 points over the regular season becoming the first team in NFL history to score more than 600, and they are the only team that had five players have more than 10 touchdowns. Demaryius Thomas had 14, Knowshon Moreno-13, Julius Thomas-12, Eric Decker-11, and Wes Welker-10.  This offense also averaged 457 yards per game and 340 yards of that being passing, both tops in the league.  Manning stated about the offense: “We’ve spread the ball around all so well all season, so its hard for teams to know who to key on…On any given play, a number of guys could get the ball.  That puts pressure on a defense.”

Seattle’s defense is the other side of the coin in this year’s Super Bowl.  During the regular season, the Seahawks led the NFL in points allowed (231), total defense (273.6) and pass defense (172 yards per game).  Seattle also topped the league in turnovers (39), interceptions (28), and turnover margin (+20).  Richard Sherman led the league with eight interceptions, and Earl Thomas is the only safety to record 100 tackles, five interceptions and two forced fumbles in a single season. Michael Bennett stated about their defense after defeating the 49ers in the NFC Championship game: “That’s the way we’ve played the whole season…these guys are relentless.  All we do is practice turnovers on defense and we wanted to be in that situation where the game was on our backs.”

Manning v Wilson

We all know what Peyton Manning can and will bring to the table on Sunday.  The veteran has played in two Super Bowls now, and has won one. He had the best season any quarterback could ever have by throwing for 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards, breaking Tom Brady’s touchdown mark and Drew Brees yardage record. The Broncos offense has been on high octane all season and it all leads with Manning.  In the two playoff games this year, he hasn’t been harassed or bothered much against opposing defenses, as the Broncos dispatched the Chargers and Patriots with little difficulty, yet he has not faced a defense like Seattle all season.  Their toughest defensive opponent being Houston, in which Denver struggled until the fourth quarter, when Manning finally began to come around and throw for three of his four touchdowns. Obviously Manning is the key for a Broncos victory. He must remain poised in the face of the Seattle defense, which he can sometimes develop “happy feet” if harassed enough.  If he is relaxed in the pocket and has time to throw, no defense in the world will be able to stop him. People will be looking how Manning will do against Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas but Denver have more weapons than Seattle can defend, so it will be up to the Seahawks defense to disguise their coverage and make Peyton go through his progressive reads.

Russell Wilson is a whole different breed than Manning.  Wilson is athletic, can keep plays alive, and is capable of tucking in the ball and running downfield. He doesn’t do the open field running as much, because he is the best scramble quarterback in the NFL.  This is how he finds the open receiver, and gets them the ball.  He is very accurate, but his arm strength is just strong enough to  make that downfield throw. His wide receiving corps is not much better than Carolina, and get open because the defense breaks eventually breaks down.  Percy Harvin returning will help Wilson, but this game will only be on him if the Seahawks are behind late in the fourth quarter. Russell Wilson does not have much of experience in big games in the pro’s and in college he had little success in bowl games, even though he played in three championship games of his four years in college.  With NC State he lost in the Papa Johns Bowl in 2008, but in 2009 he was successful against the Geno Smith led Mountaineers in the Champs Bowl.  After transferring to Wisconsin, he was unsuccessful once again in 2011 in the Rose Bowl against Andy Dalton led TCU Horned Frogs.  This leaves many spectators wondering if he can be counted on under the biggest game lights of them all.

Lynch v Moreno

Knowshon Moreno has had a great year running the ball, but best yet, is the ability to remain healthy.  Moreno has always played solid football when he is not on the mend, as he is capable runner, receiver, and blocker.  Manning has all the trust in him, and if the game is tight look for Moreno to be the major ball handler, as he was late against the Patriots in their first game earlier in the year.  Knowshon is going to be a key outlet and should catch some dump-offs, as Seattle will keep pressure on all game.

Marshawn Lynch will be the biggest key for Seattle’s offense, and the factor in a Seahawks victory.  Denver is going to key on him as the entire offense.  The defense will have to take it for 60 minutes, as Lynch will pound them into submission as he did the 49ers. To take off some of the heat, Denver will need to stuff the middle with their line backing crew, as Lynch rarely takes it around end. Marshawn has some catching skills, but he is rarely used in that role, so he may find himself a out on the flat all alone, and with Wilson keeping the play alive he may get some yardage through the air.  For the Broncos to win, they will need to stop “Beastmode” from big yardage numbers.  Marshawn Lynch has rushed for more than 100 yards in four of his six career playoff games, including 100-plus efforts against the Saints and 49ers this year in the postseason.  He will need 20-25 carries to wear down the defensive front of Denver, who absolutely plugged the whole against the Patriots. This unit led by Terrance Knighton will need to step it up even more, because they haven’t seen anything like Lynch since the regular season.

Seahawks wide receivers v Broncos wide receivers

Is there any doubt that Denver has the best wide receivers in the NFL, and surely have it over the Seahawks.  Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Julius Thomas are hard to defend as individuals, but as a group almost impossible. The only way the Seattle will be able to contain this group is forcing errant passes from Manning. If the Seahawks can force Manning into bad passes, they are a team that can capitalize on those mistakes.  Seattle finished the regular season first in total defense and scoring defense.  This has only occurred 25 times since 1940, and the team has reached the title game 14 times and won it nine times. Plus. they will have tight match-ups with Sherman and Maxwell covering both Decker and D. Thomas.  This means that Wes Welker and J. Thomas are going to be prime targets, and will have short to intermediate routes, because of the pressure that Seattle can bring.

The Seahawks wide receiving corps has not much to turn too.  Percy Harvin is their best receiver, while Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, and Jermaine Kearse only are bodies that would be benched on most teams. Tight end Zach Miller falls in line with the rest of the group as an average receiver. Miller won’t find much action against this line backer group of Denver.  They have a great deal of speed in this area, and Miller will find not many windows open. The good news for Seattle is that they are a running team, and Denver defensive backs are on par with their low talented receivers.  Champ Bailey and Quentin Jammer are both old veterans, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is slightly above average, but makes the difference in the Denver secondary. Denver finished 26th against the pass, but have turned around in the playoffs.

Seattle Offensive Line v Denver Defense

The offensive line had its trouble maintaining the defense of the 49ers, luckily for them, they know that Wilson can get out of trouble and Denver has trouble getting to the quarterback as they ranked 13th in the sack category tied with two other teams, and without Vonn Miller it just won’t get any easier for them. As much as they are average at protecting Russell Wilson, they are one of the best run blocking units.  They open holes for Lynch to run through, and this was huge against the 49ers in the Conference championship game.  The Broncos line backing crew can play the run well, but they are built to fly, and not to tackle someone of Marshawn Lynch size.

Denver offense line v Seattle Defense

This line has done a great job protecting Peyton Manning and allowing the running team to gash the defense. In all realities this line is built to stonewall anyone trying to get after Manning.  They have been an All-Pro unit, even without Ryan Clady.  The Seahawks know how to get to the quarterback though as they were eighth in total sacks, and second overall in total defense, while being seventh against the rush and third against the pass. Manning will have pressure, and harassed, but it will be difficult for Seattle to sack him.  The Seahawks main concern is to limit the time Peyton has in making a decision, and forcing him into making a mistake.

Seattle keys to victory:

  • Pressure Manning all game long
  • Marshawn Lynch close to or over 100 yards rushing
  • Russell Wilson time to throw
  • Great defensive coverage
  • Score more than 24 points
  • Time Possession

Denver keys to victory

  • Peyton Manning being Peyton Manning
  • Offensive line protection
  • Stopping Marshawn Lynch for less than 80 yards rushing
  • Not just pressuring, but sacking Russell Wilson
  • Running the ball well consistently
  • Winning the turnover margin

 

REGULAR SEASON STAT LEADERS PASSING Wilson: 257-407-3,357-26-9-101.2 Manning: 450-659-5,477 (1L)-55 (1L)-10-115.1 (1C)
RUSHING Lynch: 301-1,257-4.2-12 (T1L) Moreno: 241-1,038-4.3-10 (2C)
RECEIVING Tate: 64-898-14.0-5 D. Thomas: 92-1,430 (3C)-15.5-14 (1C)
OFFENSE 339.0 457.3 (1L)
TAKE/GIVE +20 (1L) 0
DEFENSE 273.6 (1L) 356.0
SACKS Bennett: 8.5 Phillips: 10
INTs Sherman: 8 (1L) 3 tied: 3
PR Tate: 11.5 Holliday: 8.5
KR Kearse: 21.8 Holliday: 27.7 (3C)
PUNTING Ryan: 42.7 Colquitt: 44.5
KICKING Hauschka: 143 (1C) (44/44 PAT; 33/35 FG) Prater: 150 (2L) (75/75 PAT; 25/26 FG)

SUPER BOWL

SEASON

TOP OFFENSE (POINTS) TOP DEFENSE (POINTS) SUPER BOWL WINNER

XIII

1978

Dallas Pittsburgh Pittsburgh

XIX

1984

Miami San Francisco San Francisco

XXIV

1989

San Francisco Denver San Francisco

XXV

1990

Buffalo New York Giants New York Giants

XLVIII

2013

Denver Seattle  

 

Denver topped the NFL by gaining 7,317 total yards (457.3 per game) while Seattle allowed 4,378 (273.6 per game), the fewest in the league. This is only the second Super Bowl since the 1970 merger matching up the league’s top offense against the NFL’s best defense in terms of total yardage.

 

SUPER BOWL

SEASON

TOP OFFENSE (YARDS) TOP DEFENSE (YARDS) SUPER BOWL WINNER

XXXVII

2002

Oakland Tampa Bay Tampa Bay

 

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