Projecting How Absence of Seattle Seahawks' 12th Man Will Affect Team

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IFebruary 1, 2014

Seattle Seahawks' Golden Tate runs around the field holding one end of a
Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

The Seattle Seahawks will be without one of their most dangerous pass-rushers during Super Bowl XLVIII. 

No, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin and the rest of the defensive line will be good to go against the Denver Broncos on Sunday night. But one important piece will be missing. 

The 12th Man. 

When it comes to people who never actually step onto to the football field, Seattle's obnoxiously loud—for opponents, anywayhome crowd has become one of the most talked-about stories in the NFL this season. Well, with the exception of Tim Tebow, of course. 

(I'm sorry, Tim Tebow.)

Counting the postseason, the Seahawks went 9-1 at home this year, pushing them to a silly 17-1 at CenturyLink since Russell Wilson has been under center. And when the fans start causing mini earthquakes, it's not exactly difficult to see why they get such exposure. 

John Froschauer/Associated Press

But at MetLife Stadium, the 'Hawks will be without that ultra-important advantage. So, what exactly will they be missing? 

Most importantly, at least in terms of this matchup, they'll miss the crowd's ability to help the pass rush. 

Not only does the deafening noise force opponents into countless false start penalties, but it makes it so players on offense can't hear the snap count. As a result, offensive linemen must watch the ball to see when it's snapped and thus can't get off the line quicker, allowing the 'Hawks to get a quick rush. 

Having that type of advantage for half the season helped Seattle to the most QB pressures in the NFL, per ESPN Stats & Info:

And against Peyton Manning—who has been sacked just 18 times in 18 games, hasn't gone down in the postseason and can surgically pick apart any defense if he is comfortable in the pocket—establishing that kind of pressure will be crucial for Seattle.

“We need to move him,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said, via The Tacoma News Tribune's Todd Dybas. “When he’s in rhythm and he’s solid in the pocket, which he is the great majority of the time, then you’re really dealing with the best he has to offer.”

You can talk about Demaryius Thomas versus Richard Sherman. You can talk about Denver's elite pass-catching corps versus Seattle's elite secondary. You can talk about Knowshon Moreno versus Bobby Wagner.

But the key to slowing down Denver's offense undoubtedly lies in Seattle's ability to make Manning hit that frozen ground a couple times. 

Taking the crowd out of the equation may make that task slightly more difficult for the 'Hawks, but don't expect it to make a huge difference. There's just too much pass-rushing talent on that defensive line. 

But getting to Manning when he unloads the ball faster than anyone in the NFL? That will be the real task at hand for the Seahawks—with or without a crowd behind them.