Peyton Manning’s doubters are rather quiet on this Sunday morning as his Denver Broncos get ready to square off against the Seattle Seahawks from New York’s MetLife Stadium in the pinnacle of American sports, the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XLVIII
Seattle Seahawks (13-3) vs. Denver Broncos (13-3)
East Rutherford, New Jersey
3:25 p.m. PT
Game-time weather: Cloudy, 44 degrees
Wind: 3 mph, NNW
So it’s not going to be the coldest Super Bowl (39 degrees, Super Bowl VI, Tulane Stadium, New Orleans) ever, at least not by the weather forecast, but it’s going to be freezing out there as Peyton Manning locks up with Richard Sherman and the Seahawks.
First and foremost it’s going to be about the battle in the trenches. If the Broncos continue to protect Manning as well as they have (hasn’t been sacked since Week 17), the sky is the limit.
The Seahawks have three sacks in the postseason, including two in the NFC Championship game of Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers.
And these two teams actually met in the preseason, a 40-10 shellacking by the Seahawks of the Broncos in Seattle.
But the 12th man will be staying in the Pacific Northwest. This is a neutral-site game under some pretty intense weather conditions.
Hey, Manning stood up during that game, but the Seahawks ravaged the Broncos thanks to a pretty solid defense.
One stat to take note of in that game though is indeed the sacks. While the ‘Hawks couldn’t get to Manning, they sacked backup QB Brock Osweiler four times.
Manning played about a quarter and a half before getting lifted with a 27-7 deficit, which was lifted due to fumbles by Ronnie Hillman and Julius Thomas. And boy, if you know Thomas’ season, you can bet that he is not likely to fumble the ball in this one.
And the Seahawks showed then what they are so good at doing now: Taking advantage of the other team’s mistakes.
While Russell Wilson isn’t a world-beater, he is a very smart player, who combined with Marshawn Lynch, can beat you handily.
But as everybody knows, it’s all about the Broncos’ offense and the Seahawks’ defense.
Neither team has actually exceeded 30 points in the playoffs, shocking for Denver, who was held under 30 just three times during the regular season.
Everybody has been talking about Richard Sherman, and you’ll see a nice matchup with he and the Broncos’ receivers, but they’re that much better than those of the 49ers. While San Francisco had Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin, there’s Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas to deal with, in addition to fantasy football monster Eric Decker and the previously mentioned Thomas.
There is just too much of an argument as to why the Broncos should win this game.
Now how about the Seahawks?
The Broncos have been known to get lazy and even let a comfortable lead get away in New England, a 24-0 lead. Remember that game? Gillette Stadium is just 340.7 miles away from today’s game, and it too was a primetime game.
Want to talk cold? Peyton Manning has thrown one touchdown against six interceptions in weather conditions like today’s. Nothing the Legion of Boom won’t salivate at.
What happened the last time the Seahawks visited MetLife Stadium? They shut out the New York Giants, 23-0.
Wouldn’t you say they hold the field advantage tonight?
Some might say so. Few would argue it. I say it’s going to live up to the hype that all have given this game. Expect a higher scoring game than you previously anticipated, and that’s why it will favor the Broncos.
When you play fire with fire it typically favors the side whose specialty is being complimented, and the Broncos are offensive juggernauts, the best in NFL history according to the numbers.
But if the Seahawks’ defense finds a way to shut down Manning, watch out, Denver could be looking at single-digits in addition to frost bite.
Look for the kickers to have some fun too. Yes, Matt Prater, the guy that kicked a 64-yard field goal, setting an NFL record against Steven Hauschka, the guy that seemingly never misses.
It will be one for the ages.
Prediction: Broncos 29, Seahawks 24
MVP: Peyton Manning