Super Bowl XLVIII Will Be Decided by the Arm of Russell Wilson

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2014

Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson throws during the first half of the NFL football NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

Let’s be honest here.

Despite the Seattle Seahawks’ outstanding defensive unit, and particularly their exceptional secondary, the Denver Broncos are going to put points on the board in Super Bowl XLVIII.

That is essentially a given.

The Broncos have averaged 37.88 points per game this season and 20 is the lowest number of points that any team has held the Broncos to during a single game in 2013.

The Broncos did not discriminate against great defenses or poor defenses either; they put up a boatload of points against just about every team they faced.

Of the top-15 defenses in the league in terms of points allowed per game, the Broncos scored 49 points against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1 (Ravens ranked 12th in the league in points allowed per game).

The Broncos scored 33 points against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 7 (Colts ranked ninth in the league in points allowed per game).

They scored 28 points against the San Diego Chargers in Week 10 and 20 points against the Chargers in Week 15 (Chargers ranked 11th in the league in points allowed per game).

They scored 27 points against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11 and then 35 points against the Chiefs in Week 13 in Kansas City (Chiefs ranked fifth in the league in points allowed per game).

In total, the Broncos have averaged 32 points per game against teams ranked within the top-15 in defensive points allowed per game.

The Seattle Seahawks’ “12th Man” will also not exist at MetLife Stadium on February 2, and the Seahawks' pass defense has been significantly better at home than on the road.

The Seahawks gave up an average of just 160 passing yards per game at home versus an average of 188 passing yards per game on the road, which is a difference of nearly 15 percent.

So what does 15 percent plus Peyton Manning equal?

Well, let’s just say that the Seahawks will more than likely give up a larger number of points in Super Bowl XLVIII than they have throughout most of the 2013 season.

While it is unlikely that Manning and the Broncos offense will completely slaughter the Seahawks defense with 50 points at MetLife Stadium in two weeks, it is also unlikely that the Seahawks defense will completely shut down Denver’s offense.

A good, safe bet would be that Denver’s offense will put up somewhere in the vicinity of 25-28 points against Seattle’s defense, which is lower than they have been putting up for most of the season, but also higher than Seattle’s defense is used to giving up.

This could pose somewhat of an issue for the Seahawks when considering that they scored more than 28 points just six times all season and have scored just 23 points in each of their first two playoff games.

One can only assume that the Broncos No. 1 defensive priority heading into Super Bowl XLVIII will be stopping Seattle’s running game and particularly, Marshawn Lynch.

During the regular season, the Broncos ranked 25th in rush defense, allowing an average of 101.6 yards per game.

However, Denver’s defense has been extremely hot so far this postseason, allowing an average of just 64.5 yards per game on the ground.

Just last week, Denver’s defense allowed only 66 rushing yards to a New England Patriots team that had run for 235 yards seven days earlier against the Indianapolis Colts.

The Broncos' defense also held LeGarrette Blount, who had run for 166 yards and four touchdowns the previous week against the Colts, to just six yards on five carries.

If Denver is even somewhat successful in stopping Seattle’s running game, Super Bowl XLVIII could very well come down to the arm of Russell Wilson.

Will Wilson be able to throw his way to 28-plus points in his first-ever Super Bowl appearance against a Denver defense that just shut down Tom Brady in the AFC Championship Game?

Wilson threw more than two touchdown passes just three times during the entire 2013 season and has only done so six times during the first two years of his career.

Wilson’s passer rating over the past six games has also been just 82.02, which is significantly lower than his 2013 season rating of 100.03.

While Wilson may not turn over the football (he threw just nine interceptions all season and has thrown just one interception in his first four playoff games as a pro), he will likely have to play a bit less conservatively if the Seahawks are going to have any chance of putting 28 or more points on the board in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII much of the talk will, understandably, be focused on the matchup between Peyton Manning and the Seahawks' defense.

But when push comes to shove at a frigid Met Life Stadium in two weeks, Super Bowl XLVIII may come down to Wilson’s ability to move the Seattle offense with his arm, which is something he has not done a lot of during his first two years in the league.

Despite all of the attention around mobile quarterbacks in recent years, every team that has won a Super Bowl title during the past decade has possessed a quarterback with the ability to sit in the pocket and put points on the board with his arm.

While it is typically not advisable for a quarterback of an NFC Championship team to change his style of play right before the biggest game of his life, Wilson may have no other choice if he has any intention of walking out of New Jersey with the Lombardi Trophy in hand on February 2.

Unless otherwise specified, all statistics for this article came from or