The Denver Broncos are heading to the big stage after knocking off the San Diego Chargers in the Divisional Round and the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. While both games ended up with close final scores (24-17 and 26-16 respectively), the Broncos controlled the pace and feel of each contest throughout.
The NFC representative will be the Seattle Seahawks, who dispatched the New Orleans Saints in the Divisional Round and archrival San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. The path was a bit rockier for the Seahawks, who needed an interception in the final seconds against the 49ers to pull off the heart-stopping victory.
While the game may have been a nail-biter, Seattle was depending on arguably the best unit in football—its secondary—to win the game. Richard Sherman batted Colin Kaepernick’s final pass in the air, and it was eventually intercepted by linebacker Malcolm Smith.
The old-school Seahawks, with the fourth-ranked rushing attack in the NFL, top-ranked pass defense and seventh-ranked rush defense, will be well-prepared for the third participant in this year’s Super Bowl—mother nature.
Reports are indicating that the temperature will likely be in the 20s come Super Bowl Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Furthermore, there will be gusty winds that whip across the field, which will make it feel even colder than it is and impede any attempt to throw the ball deep downfield.
Meteorologist Eric Holthaus of Quartz told Doyle Rice of the USA Today the following:
"The coldest-ever Super Bowl was 39 degrees in New Orleans in 1972, so I think we have a really good shot at beating that. I wouldn't say it's a lock yet, but we should have a good idea in a few days."
There is also the issue of the Farmer’s Almanac, which bases weather predictions on things such as lunar cycles, foreshadowing that a winter storm will hit the Northeast right on Super Bowl weekend.
Clearly, the weather will have an impact on the Super Bowl in some facet, even if there isn’t exactly a blizzard come kickoff.
Fortunately for the Seahawks, they are built to deal with less-than-ideal weather conditions.
With Marshawn Lynch in the backfield, Seattle has one of the most effective and bruising running attacks in the league. Lynch bursts through the holes and takes defenders for a ride after first contact, which is a skill that isn’t really impaired by cold and windy conditions.
Furthermore, the Seahawks have a nasty defense that will look to make Peyton Manning feel every hit in the cold weather. Throw in the fact that they have experience playing in poor weather in Seattle, and the checklist looks fairly solid from Pete Carroll’s perspective.
The Seahawks also have a quarterback who can make plays with his feet and in the passing game off of play action. Denver’s defense could very well be keying in on stopping Lynch and the rushing attack in difficult conditions, which would theoretically open up that play-action game for Russell Wilson.
This is not to say the Broncos can’t handle the cold and wind as well, but if there is one thing that could slow down Denver’s record-setting aerial attack, it is the combination of cold winds and the Seahawks’ incredible secondary.
Seattle’s “legion of boom” will be ready for Manning and the cold.