Super Bowl Predictions 2014: How the Broncos Will Best the Seahawks

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2014

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19:  Julius Thomas #80 of the Denver Broncos celebrates their 26 to 16 win over the New England Patriots during the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

It's the No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense. It's a quarterback who set multiple passing records, Peyton Manning, against the best secondary in the league, the aptly nicknamed "Legion of Boom."

It's a game with arguably the best set of receivers in the league (Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker and Julius Thomas), one of the most promising young quarterbacks in the league, Russell Wilson, and a running back capable of instigating earthquakes in Seattle, Marshawn Lynch.

It has everything you could want in a Super Bowl matchup, and it should be a close game but one I believe the Broncos will win. So what is the difference between these two teams?


WhenSunday, February 2 at 6:30 p.m. ET

Sunday, February 2 at 11:30 p.m. GMT

Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

Watch: FOX; FOX Sports Go

Spread: Denver (-2.5), according to Vegas Insider (as of Jan. 22)


The Manning Factor (And His Cadre of Weapons)

Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

You'll hear plenty of talk this week about how dangerous it is to give Manning an extra week to prepare, and that's definitely true. Of course, Seattle has plenty of smart minds working to develop a game plan as well, so the "film room" advantage is a bit overplayed.

What isn't overplayed is that the game's best quarterback probably has the best supporting cast of his career. There aren't many defenses that can deal with Welker, Decker and the pair of Thomases on the outside (though Seattle may be the one team equipped to slow them down). Add in the rushing duo of Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball and a very good offensive line, and Manning has his dream offense.

Yes, the Seahawks have been excellent against opposing tight ends in this postseason. They held Jimmy Graham to one catch for eight yards. They held Vernon Davis to two receptions for 16 yards. 

But neither the Saints nor the Niners presented nearly the weapons that Denver will. The Seahawks could key on both Graham and Davis. Against Denver, Julius Thomas is just one of a number of players capable of beating them. In an effort to slow Demaryius Thomas or Welker, the Seahawks could allow Orange Julius to be the key figure in the passing game.

That makes him a major X-factor.

Another huge key to this game will be whether or not Seattle's front four can generate pressure. Manning's quick release and a talented line have kept him protected for much of the year, but the Seahawks will put both to the test, as ESPN Stats & Info on Twitter notes:

Still, this game almost surely comes down to Manning's performance. And after setting NFL records with 5,477 passing yards and 55 passing touchdowns, betting against him this season hasn't been wise.



Jan 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker (83) against the New England Patriots during the 2013 AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

John Fox led the Carolina Panthers to a Super Bowl. Peyton Manning took the Indianapolis Colts there twice, winning one. Wes Welker has played in two, though he never managed to win one with the New England Patriots.

The point is, the Broncos come into this game with Super Bowl experience. They have guys who have endured the madness, the two weeks of hype, the absolute media storm that accompanies an actual football game. 

And the Seahawks don't, as Kevin Negandhi of ESPN notes:

Will that ultimately matter? Maybe, maybe not, but the Broncos are better off having players who have been to this circus before. A huge part of the Super Bowl is remaining focused on the game itself, and it will be a test for this Seahawks team to cancel out all of the outside noise.


The Run Defense

January 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (94) celebrates after sacking New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) on fourth and two in the second half of the 2013 AFC Championship football game at Sports Au
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It's no secret that the Seahawks want to run the ball and that they are much more dangerous when they control the tempo of the game with the bruising Lynch and allow Wilson to make plays in the passing game once they've established the ground attack. 

But the Broncos have been pretty darn good against the run this year. The team was eighth in rush defense in the regular season, allowing just 101.8 yards per contest, but more importantly gave up a total of 129 rushing yards to the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots in the postseason, two very good running teams.

With the emergence of nose tackle Terrance Knighton and linebacker Danny Trevathan, the Broncos defense has quietly been the key of Denver's postseason run. If you think Seattle will simply run the ball down the Broncos' throats, think again.



The Broncos win, 23-21.


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