The forecast for Sunday, Feb. 2, has been in flux ahead of Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos, but the winter season will see temperatures dip and impact the game's outcome.
The winter weather in East Rutherford, N.J., should continue to create polarizing reactions about MetLife Stadium as the venue for the NFL's biggest event. Here is an overview of the latest weather information, courtesy of The Weather Channel:
|Daytime High||Nighttime Low||Chance of Precipitation at Night|
Source: The Weather Channel. Current as of Feb. 1
Legendary head coach and two-time Super Bowl champion Don Shula was rather befuddled as to why East Rutherford was the preferred setting, per ESPN New York's Ian O'Connor:
Why? That was pretty much my reaction. I certainly believe that when you get to a game of that magnitude, you want to play it in conditions where weather won't be or might not be something that affects the outcome. So that's why I think Miami, New Orleans, San Diego, all those warm-weather cities are the best cities for a game of that magnitude.
NFL Network's Albert Breer was already fed up with the weather hype several days ago:
Monitoring of Super Bowl weather reports is already at a stupid level. By next week, they'll have you thinking the game's at the North Pole.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 24, 2014
How this saga plays out and how Mother Nature impacts the quality of what should be an epic matchup will go a long way in determining whether or not the league will come back to cold-weather outdoor venues in future Super Bowls.
Let's take a closer look at what the updated forecast means for each team, along with a fresh prediction as to who will win.
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
When: Sunday, Feb. 2, at 6:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Spread: Broncos -2.5, per Vegas Insider
Updated Preview and Prediction for Super Bowl XLVIII
It's somewhat befuddling that the Broncos are still favored by 2.5 points despite the forecast. Yes, Denver has quarterback Peyton Manning and the top-ranked offense in the league, but Seattle's stacked defense is a No. 1 unit as well.
One stat that pops out is that the 15 previous defenses that allowed the fewest points during the regular season and made the Super Bowl compiled a 12-3 record, per the NFL on ESPN's official Twitter account:
This is the 16th time since merger that the regular-season scoring defense champ has reached Super Bowl. They are 12-3 #Seahawks— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 24, 2014
Freezing temperatures could change the game's dynamic.
Who do you think has the advantage in the cold weather?
Manning relies on getting the ball out quickly as it is, and throwing deep will be difficult in MetLife Stadium with his waning arm strength. Even shorter passes will be challenging against the Seahawks' "Legion of Boom" secondary and their deep array of pass-rushers featuring Michael Bennett, Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril.
The 37-year-old legendary signal-caller couldn't consult his younger brother for help to prepare for this vaunted defense, per Newsday's Bob Glauber:
Peyton on Eli offering advice on Seahawks. "He told me he couldn't help me much with Seattle." Giants were shut out by Seahawks.— Bob Glauber (@BobGlauber) January 26, 2014
If a passing play breaks down for Seattle, QB Russell Wilson has the athleticism to escape and make plays with his legs—a luxury Denver doesn't have.
Lockdown cornerback Richard Sherman has the size and instincts to stay with Broncos No. 1 wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, along with safety help over the top from the All-Pro tandem of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
The tactical approach should see defensive coordinator Dan Quinn play his two star safeties deep, send exotic blitzes at Manning utilizing hybrid fronts and deploy press coverage on the outside, with plenty of Cover 3 mixed in.
Seattle has the personnel to pull this off and at least match up well enough with the Broncos' weapons to have a chance. Not to mention, Manning historically struggles in the cold weather, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Peyton Manning is 8-11 in outdoor games with a kickoff temperature of below 40 degrees, 4-7 when the temperature is at 32 degrees or below.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 24, 2014
Meanwhile, Denver sports the 27th-ranked pass defense and hasn't faced a back quite like Lynch all season. That's hard to prepare for—just like the cold. The Seahawks are more adaptable and could jump out to a lead before giving some ground to Manning as the game progresses.
In the end, an edge in time of possession and superior defense will help bring Seattle's franchise its first NFL championship.
Prediction: Seahawks 24, Broncos 20