My official pick, along with apparently 70% of picks in Las Vegas, is the Broncos. Now, I am fully aware that defenses typically win out in these sorts of games, when top defenses play top offenses. At least in the playoffs. I remember the Raiders-Buccaneers Super Bowl pretty well. However, those Raiders were not these Broncos. If you can’t tell the difference between Rich Gannon and Peyton Manning, then you probably need to get your eyes checked. Amongst other things.
Now let me be clear: I will not be one bit surprised if the Seahawks take this game. I expect this to be a tight one. And if things do turn snowy and windy,* then I do think Seattle wins this one. But as it stands, I think the Broncos have enough. And it does come down to the Seattle defense.
*They’re not supposed to as far as I know, which is significant.
Seattle’s defense has gotten all sorts of praise all year, and rightfully so. They are as solid a defense as the rules allow these days. My issue with them is their lack of wrinkles. They play a largely vanilla defense and don’t do a lot of funky shifting before the snap. Typically, this is exactly the kind of defense I would favor. As TMQ likes to point out, most defenses really get themselves into trouble by trying to do too much. Too many blitzes, too many funky fronts, etc. Seattle doesn’t get caught up in that game, and that’s generally a good thing. They play sensible defense, and they play it about as well as anybody has for some time.
The problem in this particular game is Peyton Manning. As has been noted throughout his career, nobody reads a defense like Peyton Manning, and nobody makes adjustments* on the fly like Peyton Manning. The book on Peyton Manning through his career has seemed to suggest that you are better off playing a lot of odd fronts and having your defenders just kind of milling around before the snap so as to better disguise what you’re doing. Those are the sorts of defenses that tend to confuse and frustrate Peyton, and those defenses that do it well, like say, in the playoffs, have been his downfall. Seattle hasn’t done that to this point, and I don’t think they would (or should) start doing that for this game. Their best chance still relies on doing what they do best. Their best could well be enough. I just think Peyton will get enough points on the board to pull this one out.
*Or feints adjustments.
The Broncos don’t have a half-bad defense themselves, either. Seattle’s offense isn’t bad, but of the four units, I do think it is the weakest link. That is another reason for this pick. That said, I like Russell Wilson quite a bit. I’ve been hearing some talk about how he’s really just an average quarterback blessed with a good defense. I could be wrong, I suppose, but that just really isn’t how I see him. Do I think Andrew Luck is better? Yes, I do. But I do think Wilson rates above Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick. And does so by a pretty good margin. He is a very good quarterback who is still blessed with a heck of a defense. I might not like Seattle’s offense very much when they get out of the Pacific Northwest, but please don’t take that as a reflection on Russell Wilson. I don’t think this will be his only trip to the Super Bowl.*
*I’m sure people thought that about Dan Marino back in 1985, too.
As another aside, I had no problem with Richard Sherman’s little outburst. Was it the friendliest thing on TV? No, not by a longshot. Do I think he’s as good as Richard Sherman thinks he is? No, not by a longshot. But he should believe that. That’s what got him to the NFL. And he also made a heck of a play to put his team in the position they’re in now. And made that play roughly a minute before having a microphone stuck in his face. You want raw emotion? You got it. I can’t fault him for that. I don’t think it makes him a “thug” by any means. It just makes him an athlete. Isn’t that what we want him to do? Quit sending mixed signals, America.
Anyway, back to the pick. It will be cold, but I think Peyton can handle that. And I think he will largely handle the Seahawks defense. Let’s say Denver wins this one, um, 27-23. That sounds about right.
Of course, if you’re gambling, consider this open season to rush the gate for Seattle. I wouldn’t blame you.