Many are not surprised of the two participants in this year's Super Bowl, the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos. I too expected it as they were both my preseason picks to make it to the Super Bowl, as you can see here http://noodleofnam.blogspot.com/2013/09/2013-nfl-predictions.html .
Peyton Manning's record setting season has been the focal point of the entire NFL this season. Manning set the single season record for most Touchdown (TD) passes (55) and Passing Yards (5,477), but many critics alike ask the question "Does Peyton need to win this one in order to go down as one of the best Quarterbacks (QB) ever?" While that statement is laughable (one because he already has a Super Bowl ring, and two, you can not deny what Manning has done on the field to prevent him from being in the discussion of one of the greatest QB's of all time). It would however, seemingly be all for not if Manning can not come away with a Super Bowl title even after all he has done this past season.
The Broncos led the league in scoring with 606 points (a new single season record) and to put it in perspective, the Chicago Bears who ranked 2nd in points, totaled 445. A difference of 161 points! Manning has had a handy repertoire of pieces that have aided him. Wide Receiver's Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Wes Welker all had at least 10 TD's or more (Thomas-14, Decker-11, Welker-10). Tight End Julius Thomas also had 12 TD Receptions. Manning and his receivers will need to maintain a high level of production as Seattle ranked 1st in total yards allowed per game, but more notably and compelling, had the leagues best Passing Defense as well!
The Seattle Defense, who also ranked 1st in allowing the least amount points this season (231), is anchored by Cornerback Richard Sherman, leading the league in Interceptions with 8. As many of you recall, Sherman made the key play in the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers to help clinch the game for Seattle. This was followed up by Sherman's much talked about post game interview (which you can view here http://noodleofnam.blogspot.com/2014/01/how-i-and-others-can-relate-to-richard.html ). Not only did Sherman lead the league in interceptions, but the Seattle Defense as a whole had the most interceptions (28); Earl Thomas (5 Int's), Bryon Maxwell (4 Int's), Kam Chancellor (3 Int's), Malcolm Smith and Bobby Wagner (2 Int's) with Bruce Irvin, Clinton McDonald, Walter Thurmond, and Brandon Browner rounding out the cavalry with an interception each. Also not to be outdone by the Denver Offense, Seattle's has been anything but futile!
Russell Wilson, who is just in his 2nd season, has turn a deflated Seahawks team around and has put Seattle in position to capture the franchise's first Super Bowl Trophy! Wilson compiled a total of 3,896 yards of offense ( 3,357 Passing, 539 Rushing) and 27 TD's ( 26 Passing, 1 Rushing). Lets not forget Running Back Marshawn Lynch, who has also been a key contributor to the Seattle Offense provided the Seahawks with an effective ground game. Combined with speed and power, Lynch amassed over 1,200 yards on the ground (1,257) and 12 TD's. Lynch's versatility gives Russell Wilson another option in the receiving game (36 Receptions, 316 yards, 2 TD's). For as much attention and praise Denver's offense has garnered, their defense should not be overlooked!
The Broncos ranked tied for 7th (coincidentally with the Seattle Seahawks) in the league for least rushing yards allowed per game (101.6). Denver's Defensive unit is led by Shaun Phillips, who had a team high 10.0 sacks, all the while without Von Miller for the majority of the year (suspension) and eventually a season ending injury with a torn ACL.
I believe the key match ups for the game will come down to two things. 1. Peyton Manning and the Broncos Passing Game against the Seattle Pass Defense. 2. Seattle's run game against the Denver Run Defense.
Finally, I am going to get a little dangerous by making a prediction! As I mentioned earlier, I had projected Seattle and Denver to meet in the Super Bowl (which again you can see here http://noodleofnam.blogspot.com/2013/09/2013-nfl-predictions.html ) I am going to honor my original pick of the Seattle Seahawks coming away with the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Final score, Seattle Seahawks 37 Denver Broncos 33
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