Madden’s weighed in with the Broncos over the Seahawks, 31-28, courtesy of a walk-off field goal in overtime.
Another video game, Tecmo Super Bowl, simulated an overtime showdown as well. In this unlikely scenario, Broncos cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie sacked Russell Wilson in the end zone to give Denver a 40-38 victory.
Me? I took the Seahawks over the Broncos back in mid-December. Well, sort of.
Now, I’m doing it for real.
Over the last 13 Super Bowls since the start of the 2000 NFL season, defense has prevailed. The league’s top-ranked defense hoisted the Lombardi Trophy when the Steelers edged the potent offense of the Cardinals in 2009, the Patriots outlasted the Panthers in 2004, the Bucs walloped the second-ranked Raiders’ offense in 2003, and the Ravens thumped the Giants in 2001. We all remember what happened when the Greatest Show on Turf took on the upstart Pats in 2002 and, yes, when more offensively-gifted incarnations of the Patriots fell to opportunistic Giants defenses in 2008 and 2012. Only once has the premier scoring team emerged victorious, when the Saints deflated Manning’s Colts in 2010.
It’s easy to look at the embarrassment of riches surrounding Manning and say, “Umm, the Broncos scored 38 points per game this season. The Patriots and Bears checked in tied for second, more than 10 points off the lead!” That, of course, is largely thanks to Manning’s league-record 55 TDs and 5,477 yards, a credit to his receiving corps and somewhat to the game’s evolution over the last decade.
But that would also fail to take two important things into account:
First, Manning has been very human against Top 5 defenses in his regular season career, going 10-8 with 26 touchdowns, 19 interceptions, and an average of 239.5 yards per game. In the playoffs, he’s been a .500 quarterback against such squads at 4-4.
Second, and more to the present-day point, the Seahawks paced the NFL by allowing just 172 passing yards per game. In other words, half the Broncos’ offensive total. If you can process this, Seattle’s D has only surrendered more than 215 passing yards in a game twice this season. It’s a large part of the reason they’ve given up only 14.6 points a game through 18 contests.
Also, though Manning has been picked off just 11 times, the Seahawks lead the NFL with 30 interceptions. If you think it’s just the Sherman Show, talk to Earl Thomas or Byron Maxwell. Visit the line, where Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Clinton McDonald, and Bobby Wagner have eaten opposing QB’s for lunch.
In short, a bad game from Manning likely ensures a Denver defeat. Is there a single player on the Seattle defense who would be guilty of that claim, even the self-proclaimed best-in-the-game, Sherman?
The ‘Hawks may be boring and their most interesting personality, if not their corner, might be their jacked-and-pumped coach, but they ooze balance, even without their 12th man in the Meadowlands.
They’ll likely slow Knowshon Moreno, just as the Broncos may very well hold silent soldier Marshawn Lynch in relative check. Ultimately, that’s a wash because the running game, even with the mobile Wilson, won’t decide this contest.
Never mind offense against defense. It’s passing against defense.
One benefit to Wilson and lesser known wideouts Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin is that the Broncos are absolutely abysmal defensively. They allowed nearly 25 points a contest during the regular season, while the Seahawks were a Top 10 scoring team, mainly due to Lynch. Yes, the Broncos locked down the Patriots a couple of weeks ago, but what message did that really send when Austin Collie was deemed dependable and Matthew Slater was getting, well, any targets?
As it stands, the Broncos are 2.5-point favorites. If Sunday’s forecast of temperatures in the 30’s and light winds hold up, that spread makes sense. Mentally, we’re fascinated by scoring in every sport, in much the same way we’re enthralled by the stories. Scoring is sexy and defense is dull.
The stories in this game are bigger than which strength will win. This Super Bowl is driven by the characters, which is why we have such a heavy interest in New England.
Patriots fans don’t want to see Manning and his surgically repaired neck win a legacy game and place himself back in a historical discussion with Tom Brady. Patriots fans are generally unsure of how to react to the possibility of Wes Welker winning a championship after six years of loyalty, and one catastrophic hit on a former teammate. Patriots fans of a generation ago are still upset with Pete Carroll for holding the organization in limbo for a few years. And Patriots fans, like many in the NFL, don’t care for Sherman. If he wins, would you be mad, bro?
My pick is clear; all that’s left are the numbers.
Seahawks 27, Broncos 24.
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About this blog
Adam Kaufman is a writer and broadcaster who can also be heard regularly on 98.5 The Sports Hub, WBZ NewsRadio 1030, the national CBS Sports Radio Network, and broadcasting Boston College hockey games. The Massachusetts native is a Syracuse grad and a pop culture fanatic who offers a unique and entertaining look at your favorite Boston sports teams. Please don't hold his love for Jean-Claude Van Damme movies against him.
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