Sunday, February 2, 2014

My Super Bowl XLVIII Prediction

Today is the day. Super Sunday. One of only two football holidays for yours truly along with the Michigan/Ohio St. college football game. That is a three-hour holiday for me whereas today is an all-day holiday for this lifelong football fan.

For the first time in 14 years, I engaged in what was a childhood tradition of mine on Super Sunday: a marathon of NFL Films Super Bowl highlights. I chose to view Super Bowls IX through XVIII, the final ten Super Bowl films narrated by the great John Facenda.

As for the game, it's gonna be close and thankfully everyone who has publicly made a prediction (outside of a friend of mine) have expressed the same sentiment.

A battle between the best defense in pro football and the best offense in pro football is one of those bits of football nirvana for me. As the great Bert Sugar said about boxing, “styles make great fights,” and the contrast of an offense-minded team and a defense-minded team always fills me with curiosity and anticipation more than most style matchups in football.

To answer some of the questions that Mike & Tony on Pardon the Interruption answered Friday: Peyton Manning will throw for over 300 yards, Marshawn Lynch will run for more than 64 yards, and Richard Sherman will have an interception in the game.

Both teams are going to look to use their running game to its fullest. The Seahawks have the advantage with Lynch, but never underestimate the Ball & Moreno combination for the Broncos. The issue regarding the running game that I believe could end up deciding this game will be whether or not Lynch is overused by the Seahawks today.

Through a good amount of the season and all of the playoffs, the Seahawks have relied on Lynch to be the sole consistent force of their offense. Russell Wilson has played well at times, but also pretty bad at times during the season. And in the playoffs, it's been more about Wilson making a few big passes in the fourth quarter than anything else. Mainly because Wilson hasn't been able to do much else during the playoffs. Because of this, the Seahawks have lived and died on offense with the performance of Lynch against the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers.

The thing is, you can't only get big plays and a good performance from your quarterback in the final quarter of the Super Bowl and expect to win. Not everyone has Eli Manning's luck in The Big Game.

Defense wins games a lot more than people may notice, and the Seahawks definitely have the better defense in this game. They make more plays, force more turnovers, get to the quarterback better, and hit much harder. Because of all of this, plenty of people do believe that the Legion of Boom will be the key to victory for the Seahawks.

However, don't underestimate the ability of the Broncos' defense. While not the most potent during the regular season, they have come alive in the playoffs. In both of their playoff games, the Broncos stopped the run very well and absolutely brutalized Tom Brady in the AFC title game. They may not get to Wilson the same way, but expect the Broncos to sack Wilson a few times and keep Lynch more in check than the Saints and 49ers did. In other words, I don't see any big fourth quarter runs out of Lynch or big bomb passes out of Wilson in this one.

I believe that this game will be a close one throughout with both defenses playing strong. I believe that the inconsistency of the Seahawks' offense will doom them late in the game because it will keep their defense on the field much longer than desired. The Broncos will take the lead early in the fourth quarter, add a field-goal later in the quarter, and a late interception will seal the win for the Broncos and give Peyton Manning a second Super Bowl ring.

Denver Broncos 27, Seattle Seahawks 21

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