It would be hard to find a quarterback matchup in the Super Bowl that features two quarterbacks with playing styles more opposite than those brought to the table by Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks.
Russell Wilson's poise and leadership certainly harken Manning's, but as for the field of the play? This sums it up well:
Russell Wilson led NFL with 51 scrambles in the regular season (4 in postseason). Peyton Manning's last scramble was in Week 12 of 2012— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 28, 2014
With second-year quarterback Wilson, questions of inexperience and a slow end to the season are where concerns reign supreme. With Manning, the bigger question mark revolves around the quality of the passing defense he is facing.
I'll tell you how these two will perform in this setting.
There was a time this year when Wilson's name was being mentioned alongside Manning's in the race for the MVP. After a slow end to the season, that talk completely vanished.
Which QB will have a higher QBR for this game?
Wilson hasn't thrown for more than 215 yards or one touchdown in any game since Week 13. Wilson hasn't turned in a QBR over 49.1 in any of his last six starts. He was higher than that mark in nine of his first 12 games this season.
Wilson has not enjoyed good pass protection this season. The Seahawks are last in the league in sacked percentage. Meanwhile, the Broncos finished the year 17th in sack percentage and struggled to find a consistent pass rush. That pass rush has looked alright this postseason, however. as Denver has six combined sacks in their two games.
Denver does not have a good pass defense, though. They were 27th in the league in passing yards allowed.
This is weakness vs. weakness, and there are a couple of big wild cards at play here. The first is that Percy Harvin is being thrown into the mix. He can turn a five-yard pass into a 90-yard touchdown.
The other thing is that the Seahawks are going to run as much as possible. The Broncos have a strong rush defense, so Seattle won't be able to live on the run alone. Of course, they will also be throwing more if they are trailing.
I believe Denver is going to win this game, which I mention to give you my basis for this prediction:
Stat Line: 20-of-32, 225 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
As I just mentioned, I believe the Broncos are going to win. The basis for that is Manning is going to shred the vaunted Legion of Boom.
Seattle's pass rush finished the season ranked sixth in sack percentage, but it will not be able to get consistent pressure on Manning.
The Broncos led the NFL in sacked percentage, and their offensive line has been strong all season:
The Denver Broncos offensive line is the best aspect of their football team. They are exceptional as a unit.— Derwin L. Gray (@DerwinLGray) January 31, 2014
That group will give Manning time to throw, just as it has all season. This is going to leave Seahawks' secondary vulnerable.
Seattle led the league in pass defense and has a talented group of cover men.
Still, that didn't help the Seahawks stop Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Harry Douglas from combining to catch 27 passes on 35 targets this past season.
I mention those four receivers because they were the leading targets in the games the Seahawks played against the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons, which are the three teams on the Seahawks schedule with passing games most similar to the one Seattle will see on Sunday.
Manning is going to play this game like he played every other this season: amazingly. He will wind up as the MVP and finish with this sexy stat line:
Stat Line: 32-of-38, 335 passing yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
All season stats and ranking via TeamRankings.com.