The NFL season was unforgettable. Hosted by some amazing matchups, some extraordinary performances as well as some notable records. Now the season will come to an end with a game that may become an instant classic. Just as many predicted the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will meet in the Super Bowl. Fitting that the two best teams owning the number one offense and number one defense in the league would be the last two teams standing. The headlines have been focused on the weather, Richard Sherman and the legacy of Peyton Manning, but what can we expect to see on the field come Sunday?
This is perhaps the most equal aspect of the game. Both the Seahawks and the Broncos have strong run defenses that each allowed 101.6 yards per game this season. Both defenses faced off against numerous talented running backs yet they were able to shut them down all season. The Seahawks’ defense only allowed four rushing touchdowns all season and they were able to accomplish that in part due to their excellent coverage downfield which lets them commit more players in the run defense. Their defense will look to contain Knowshon Moreno and rookie Montee Ball who have both been running with authority in this season.
The Broncos’ defense allowed more rushing touchdowns then the Seahawks’ but only allowed one 100 yard rusher all season. For the Broncos, their fast linebackers and big defensive tackles have helped them to contain multiple prolific runners this season. They will have to game plan strongly for Marshawn Lynch especially if the weather stays cold.
There really is no comparing the pass defenses of these two teams. The Seahawks boasts the best pass defense that the league has seen in recent years, and they have talent at every position in the defensive backfield. Their ability to rush and put pressure on the quarterback while only rushing four down lineman is what makes their defense so strong. They got pressure on the quarterback an amazing 32 percent of the time’s this season with most of that coming off a four man rush. Against Manning they will need to continue to get a strong pass rush in order to help their defensive backs and linebackers cover all of the Broncos weapons.
The Broncos had a strong pass rush this season, especially considering the loss of Elvis Dumervil to the Ravens this off season, and the suspension and injury issues for one of last year’s leading pass rushers in the NFL, Von Miller. Despite a solid pass rush, the Broncos pass defense has been susceptible to big plays, especially against fast receivers (such as Percy Harvin). The Broncos will be missing starting corner Chris Harris once again this game which leads a big hole in their pass defense. Add to the equation an aging Champ Bailey, who was very limited in play this year due to injuries and the Broncos pass defense could be their biggest flaw this season. The Seahawks will try and exploit this weakness and Harvin will look to have a strong game, as long as he stays healthy enough to stay on the field all game.
The Seahawks pass blocking has been extremely iffy this season. They often went through streaks of both good pass blocking and at times very bad pass blocking. They allowed 44 sacks this season, which landed them in the bottom half of the league. Their biggest issue is not only keeping pressure off of Wilson, but also providing the smaller quarterback to have open passing lanes to find his receivers downfield. Wilson counteracts some of his poor pass blocking by being able to move around in the pocket and make many plays while on the run.
The Broncos’ pass blocking was superb this season. They allowed a league low 20 sacks and only let Manning be pressured on 14 percent of his drop backs. Even missing their starting tackle Ryan Clady since the beginning of the season they have been able to put together an excellent offensive line. The pass blocking is also strongly aided by the blocking ability of Moreno and their tight ends. They will have their work cut out for them against the Seahawks’ pass rush, but if Manning is able to continue getting the ball out of his had quickly then he should have no problem avoiding pressure during the game.
Both Seattle and Denver have good run blocking up front, but they manage this in different ways. Seattle is based on a power running game that is primarily focused inside the tackles. They get a good push up front and open up big lanes for Lynch to burst through which allows him to make guys miss in the second level. The Seahawks will likely try to establish a strong running game early in order open up the play action downfield.
The Broncos run blocking is largely aided by their strong passing game. Manning is able to force the defense to commit more players to the passing game which allows the running backs of the Broncos to find an open room up front near the line. Their one cut and up-field approach has worked all season and they will likely try to take some pressure off of Manning early by establishing a running game that will wear out the defense.
Across the board Denver by far has the most weapons on their offense. Their top four receivers accounted for 47 touchdowns and 4,284 yards receiving. That is 20 more touchdowns, and almost 800 yards more than the entire Seahawks offense had this season in the passing game. Harvin will be back in Seattle this game which could provide a much needed spark for the offense in the running game, passing game and on special teams.
However, he is the not only big threat in for Seattle, whereas the Broncos have multiple targets who are all equally capable of being the best receiver on the field on any given day. Marshawn Lynch will be the most talented running back in the game on Sunday, but don’t discredit the job Moreno has been able to do this season, and as long as Montee Ball can hold on to the ball and keep building off of recent success the run games should be about equal for each team.
This isn’t a fair comparison for Russell Wilson to find himself in. He is without a doubt one of the top young quarterbacks in the league today, and shows a lot of potential, but he is going up against one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time who is finishing up one of the greatest passing seasons we have ever seen. Manning nearly doubled Wilson’s numbers this season on his way to breaking numerous team and league records.
Manning will face his toughest matchup of the season going against the top rated pass defense, but based on what we have seen from Manning so far this season he should still out perform Wilson easily and have a fair amount of success against the Seahawks. However, with that being said Wilson brings his athleticism and scrambling ability to this year’s Super Bowl, which could make a difference in the game. But the Broncos have shown success keeping mobile quarterbacks in check this season so look for Denver to keep him in check most of the day.
Super Bowl XLVII should be an instant classic. The unknown variable of the weather brings many new concerns into the game that hasn’t been an issue in past Super Bowls. Also the top offense facing off against the top defense is always intriguing to watch. The game will likely come down to one key statistic, turnovers. In order for the Seahawks to win, they will need to force the Broncos to turn over the ball and provide their offense with a short field. Denver has far too many weapons offensively to shut down all game long even for a talented defense like the Seahawks have. If Denver can play smart football and not commit any stupid mistakes, then they should go on to win the game. For the Seahawks offensively Lynch and Harvin will need to make some big plays and they will need to find ways to extend drives keeping Manning off the field.
Final score prediction: Denver 31 - Seattle 24