It has been more than a decade, but the Denver Broncos will finally be playing on Super Bowl Sunday—largely in part due to the play of arguably the greatest quarterback the NFL has ever seen, Peyton Manning.
The last time the Broncos had a chance to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy, Manning was entering the NFL as a rookie. That team was led by Broncos executive vice president of operations and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway at age 38.
Flash forward about 14 years later, and the Broncos find themselves in a similar situation with a chance to win the championship while being led by a veteran QB. Elway's team beat a top-5 ranked Atlanta Falcon defense. Manning is about to square off against the Seattle Seahawks and the best defense in the league.
History tends to have a funny way of repeating itself.
Peyton Manning, at age 37, will pick apart a young Seahawks team in Super Bowl XLVIII.
The biggest challenge for Manning will be choosing a defensive back to exploit early in the game. Richard Sherman is arguably the best cornerback in all of football, so don't expect Manning to attack his zone in the first quarter. If there was a zone to exploit, it would be in the middle of the field. Having a player like Wes Welker as a slot receiver is a benefit. Manning will use Welker to exploit a hole in the Seattle defense—their linebackers.
Manning's ability to call his own game from the line of scrimmage is different from any QB the Seahawks have faced this season. Seattle's defense loves to throw different looks and schemes at its opponent, whether it's blitzing a safety, dropping a LB into coverage or pressing up in the box. Peyton and his glorified audibles give the Broncos a distinct advantage at exploiting coverages and blitzes.
One last thing to ponder is the historic defense of the Seahawks. Led by Bruce Irvin, Earl Thomas and Sherman, Seattle's defense has been very good.
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But are the Seahawks really that good?
Over the course of the season, the Seahawks accumulated 13 wins on their way to clinching the NFC Championship. Ten of their 13 wins, however, were against below-average teams.
Let's take a better look at their season.
The Seahawks played against a total of four above-average QBs this season—Drew Brees, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck. Those four are very good players. The others, however, are definitely not:
- Chad Henne
- Matt Schaub
- Ryan Fitzpatrick
- Carson Palmer (2x)
- Kellen Clemens (2x)
- Mike Glennon
Seattle also defeated terrible New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons teams during the season.
What Seattle has done should not be overlooked. But should it be feared if it has been tested only a few times this season? Definitely not. Seattle's defense is certainly great, but the schemes and coverages that they run are nothing that Manning has yet to see.
Manning is a far better QB than the aforementioned names. Super Bowl XLVIII will be just another day at the office for Manning. A win against the Seahawks will solidify his Hall of Fame career.