Well here we are. Yes, the game isn't until Feb. 2nd, but I'm going to go ahead and get started on this early. Because this game should be that good. Last weekend the Broncos took out the Brady Bunch while the Seahawks forced Kap to commit three turnovers to punch their ticket to the big game. Now we are treated to the number one scoring defense facing the number one scoring offense. And something will have to give. However, there are several storylines of this game, starting with the guys lining up behind center.
- Russell Wilson vs Peyton Manning. Yes, these two QB's will not really be facing each other. Neither QB will be on the field at the same time. However, its still worth talking about. Russell Wilson may be in only his second season, but he had already established himself as a winner. It doesn't hurt when you have a tremendous defense and a running back like Lynch, but this kid is still proving himself. Meanwhile, Peyton Manning keeps shattering records left and right and is on his way to win his 5th MVP. Statistically, Russell has been consistent. Last year he threw for 26 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions, this year he tossed for 26 TD's and 9 interceptions. He gets lost sometimes in the Luck vs RG3 hype, and he shouldn't. However, I have two concerns about him. He has a bad habit of running backwards when the other team gets pressure on him. And he fumbles. He's fumbled the ball ten times this year, something he cannot afford to do in the Super Bowl. Manning had his best season of his career by far, throwing for 55 TD's and 10 interceptions. As good as Russell is, the Broncos head into this game with a big advantage at QB, at least on paper.
- Let's look at Russell's weapons. Marshawn Lynch is easily the best RB in this game, with all due respect to Moreno. This past season he has ran for over 1,200 yards and 12 TD's, but those numbers don't even tell the story. He is a running back that has the power to plow over his defender as well as the quickness to move around his defender. I think its a fair assumption that the Broncos D will have their hands full, I'm not sure what they will be able to do to slow this guy down. Russell Wilson, and Seahawk fans, are anxiously awaiting the return of Percy Harvin. He is expected to play, but his durability has to be questioned. As good as he can be, he's earned the reputation of being fragile. Last week Baldwin and Tate did a solid job against a defense like the 49ers, so its not crazy to think they could pull a repeat against Denver. But they need Percy, a healthy Percy. They are already without Rice. To have to try to match Denver without both Rice and Percy is a very tough task.
- Manning has more weapons this year than he has ever had before. Take a look at some of these numbers for the regular season. Demaryius Thomas = 92 receptions, 1,430 yards and 14 TD's. Julius Thomas = 65 receptions, 788 yards, and 12 TD's. Wes Welker = 73 receptions, 778 yards, and 10 TD's. Eric Decker = 87 receptions, 1,288 yards, and 11 TD's. And Moreno rushed for over 1,000 yards and 10 TD's, plus the emergence of Montee Ball in the second half of the season.
- While we know what the Broncos offense can do, their defense certainly has its weaknesses, especially with the losses of Von Miller, Derek Wolfe, and Chris Harris. They have shown improvement in the playoffs, holding the Chargers to 17 points and the Pats to just 16. But you can't really sleep on this Seattle offense. Without their top two receivers this season, they still managed to grab the number one seed in the NFC. They just play. The Broncos will have to focus on the passes that Wilson is able to make, and he can make some throws. They will also have to worry about Lynch, as well as the play action pass. Not to mention, Wilson can use his feet if he has to.
- Now, onto that vaunted Seattle defense. While I am impressed with what the Denver offense has done this year, Seattle will not be. They won't bow down to this offense and they certainly won't be intimidated. They will like the challenge. This is a defense that held 13 opponents to 20 points or less. 6 of those opponents only managed to score single digits. The Broncos never scored less than 20 points, they scored over 30 points in 13 games and over 40 points in five games. On paper, this is the best offense vs defense game the NFL has seen. Ever. The Broncos offense has broken nearly every record, while the Seattle defense doesn't appear to have any strong weaknesses.
- Will Russell Wilson grab his first ring, or will Peyton get his 2nd? Will the lack of the 12th man crowd hurt Seattle? Will cold, nasty weather effect Manning? And why do we have to wait so long to see this game?
- My official prediction: Broncos win 31-21