A complicated look at uncomplicated topics to ameliorate your day.
The Seattle Seahawks come into the Superbowl with the best defence in the league. At home they are a formidable opponent and with the help of their insanely loud fans (the 12th Man) have only suffered 1 loss in the past two seasons at Century Link Field. Away from home the Seahawks have been less effective but still a fearsome team that relies more on its defence to win games. The defence is led by the Legion of Boom, the Seattle secondary, which boasts probably the best cornerback in the game, Richard Sherman (more on him later). The defensive line is lauded and the linebackers are ridiculously talented. Almost every defensive stat that is out there is led by the Seattle defence.
On the other side of the ball we have the most prolific offence, maybe of all time, led by future hall of famer, Peyton Manning. Seattle and Denver have not played each other in the past two regular seasons since Manning and Russell Wilson took over their teams. The most intriguing machination in this match up may be the number one offence against the number one defence.
How will Seattle stop Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas in the passing game?
How will Denver use Moreno in the running game?
Will the Legion of Boom be able to halt the genius of Peyton Manning?
Peyton Manning is as good as a coach on the field. He controls the game from the line of scrimmage like few others in the league’s history. He can verbally change plays and see blitzes coming before they happen. He has as good a chance as any of putting up points on this staunch Seahawks defence.
The less sexy Seattle offence will need to improve on recent weeks to keep up with the usual free flowing, high scoring Denver offence. Russell Wilson has been a phenomenal player since coming into the league two years ago via the third round of the NFL Draft. He has the ability to escape pressure and complete an effective pass when necessary or facilitate the power running game that is Marshawn Lynch. Lynch, aka Beast Mode, is a cult hero in Seattle and is known for busting through multiple tackles and defenders to score a touchdown or set up a scoring drive. When/if he scores a TD in this game you might see fans throwing skittles at him in the end zone. He is well known for his selection of skittles as his preferred sugar fix during a game.
The Denver defence has really struggled stopping the mid and deep throws. Their secondary has been ordinary and with an injury to cornerback Chris Harris during the Chargers playoff win, it will be further depleted. The Seahawks don’t have great receiving threats to go after the Denver secondary and will prefer to use Lynch but you have to think that Baldwin, Kearse and Tate will try and break free for some big passing plays at some point in the game, probably on play action. If Denver can halt the running game, which it has had some success doing during the season, granted they did lose Von Miller to an ACL injury late in the season, it can force Seattle to have Russell Wilson to throw the ball to put up points. Wilson is more than capable of this but it does depart from the usual Seattle modus operandi.
Peyton Manning’s Legacy
Much of the lead up discussion will centre on Peyton Manning and his legacy as an NFL QB. He is almost unanimously placed in the top 5 QBs of all time with the likes of Marino, Brady, Elway, Montana, Unitas and Young. The fascination with championships and winning the ultimate prize has been too heavily weighted which is probably the only category where Manning is not in the top echelon. Manning has one Superbowl victory in his illustrious career. His brother Eli has two rings courtesy of some late game heroics against Tom Brady and the Patriots in recent years. Brady has three rings and two tight loses in his Superbowl appearances. Elway won two rings famously in his last two seasons. Marino has no rings and this is undoubtedly a slight on his unbelievable career.
Many believe that Manning is the greatest regular season QB of all time. His playoff record stands at 11-11 and 8 one-and-done post seasons. Brady sits at 18-8 after going 10-0 to start. If Manning can win his second Superbowl it will no doubt entrench him as probably the greatest QB of all time. There will be much debate and talk about his legacy and post season performance leading up to the game.
Most football fans know who Richard Sherman is. After last week’s Conference Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers, most of America and every football fan knows who Richard Sherman is. In case you missed it here is why…
Sherman grew up in Compton (a notoriously poorer area of California) and managed to obtain a degree from Stanford. He is a clever man and this latest outburst may be as good a marketing tool as any this season. His Twitter followers have grown from around 268,000 to 567,000 within 24 hours of his rant and I am sure he is a marketers dream at the moment.
On the field Sherman is the game’s best cover corner. He lines up on one side of the field regardless of who is playing there. He has covered Tight Ends, Wide Receivers and Slot Receivers all season. He is a student of the game who has brilliant agility and a feel for the game. His last play swat of the Colin Kaepernick pass to win the game for his Seahawks outlined his brilliance. Many offences will just not throw the ball in his area to avoid him impacting the game. Not since probably Derell Revis has such a player been as dominant as Sherman in the past 18 months.
This latest media spike will no doubt motivate him and the best way to silence Sherman is to beat him on the field, which is not an easy task. Just how Manning approaches Sherman will be an intriguing aspect of the Broncos offensive strategy. Regardless of if you like Sherman for his on field play or off field tirade or believe he is as classless as some have uttered, just be ready for a double dose of Richard Sherman in the lead up to this year’s Superbowl.
The NFL’s decision to play the Superbowl in a colder climate this year has been a polarising topic. Many fans and pundits alike have questioned the destination as it is very likely that there may be snow and inclement weather conditions. Their argument is based on the fact that every stadium or venue is available so why not showcase the game in perfect conditions in a dome or in a climate that is likely to be bearable for players and fans. The flip side is that the players have endured trying conditions throughout the season, from the San Francisco vs Green Bay playoff game at -26 degrees Celsius or the snow games of week 15.
The cold weather or snow would reduce the effectiveness of the Broncos passing game and they would probably have to look to run the ball a bit more. Given the Seahawks prefer to run the ball it may not disadvantage them like it would the Broncos and would allow their defence to figure prominently throughout the game.
Another long running narrative is that Peyton Manning is a slightly less effective QB in cold weather. Whether that is because his teams have relied more on the run game and been unsuccessful at it or it has been more difficult for him and his receivers to continue to put up Peyton Manning type numbers, it may be a factor come Superbowl day if the weather is less than ideal. All we can be sure is that the Seattle defence will be roaring come kick off and will take any extra advantage they can get against Denver’s high powered offence.
Who wins, how and why?
Coming soon we will dissect the Superbowl from a betting point of view.