As Super Bowl XLVIII approaches, more and more is being talked about in terms of Peyton Manning and how he will fare against the ferocious defense of the Seattle Seahawks. This game will be the first time the league's top offense and defense meet in the championship since Super Bowl XXV.
Cornerback Richard Sherman had a statement game last week against the San Francisco 49ers and was the reason for their walk-off interception. Manning will have his hands full with more than just Sherman, though—the entire secondary of the Seahawks is stacked.
Both Manning and Seattle's secondary are in an unenviable position as they're facing the game's best defense and quarterback, respectively, but it's the former that holds the advantage. Yes, Manning has clearly had one of the best individual seasons that anyone has ever had in the NFL, but the "Legion of Boom" is just too good from top to bottom.
All of Seattle's starting defensive backs have had a tremendous season, and you can look no further than their stats to see that. Standouts like Sherman and Earl Thomas have tallied 13 interceptions between them, while Byron Maxwell and Kam Chancellor combined for another seven picks this season.
These four, along with cornerback Brandon Browner, have a collective 53 passes defended in 2013. They've all had tremendous success individually against passers and are truly a pick-your-poison secondary.
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Pro Football Reference
As I mentioned earlier, Manning will have more than just Sherman to deal with as the entire Seattle secondary can lock down most any receiver. Chancellor did a great job of putting the straps on former All-Pro tight ends Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis in the Seahawks' first two playoff games, allowing just three catches for 24 yards and no touchdowns between them.
Another reason why Manning may struggle even more against these guys is because of Seattle's pass rush. They pressured quarterbacks just under one-third of the time, while Manning didn't feel nearly that much pressure during the regular season.
Peyton Manning: Sacked or under duress on 14% of dropbacks this season, lowest in NFL; Seahawks pressured QBs on 32% of dropbacks (led NFL)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 23, 2014
They do a good job of knocking quarterbacks off their rhythm, and if they can get to Manning,then they will likely do the same, making his job even tougher.
Manning's struggles with Seattle's secondary will only be amplified by the cold and potentially snowy weather in East Rutherford. He has an underwhelming record of 4-7 when the temperature is 32 degrees or colder at kickoff (is 174-77 in every other game).
Peyton's worst game of the season came in Week 12 against the New England Patriots when he threw for just 150 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. It was cold that day—22 degrees at kickoff to be exact. While many may credit the Patriots' defense for his statistical shortcomings (with good reason), it's clear Manning was affected by the cold a bit.
The projected forecast for Super Bowl Sunday is 37 degrees with a low of 22 degrees, meaning Manning could be battling more than the Legion of Boom when Feb. 2 rolls around. It'll be a competitive game, but No. 18 will be facing some obstacles.