The Denver Broncos are the popular pick to win Super Bowl XLVIII against the other No. 1 seed, the Seattle Seahawks. Denver’s record-breaking offense and versatile defense are perceived as too dominant for Seattle to handle.
In actuality, Denver is the underdog for “the big game.”
One fact makes this evident. In each of Denver’s losses this season, their opponent succeeded at doing two simultaneous things: running the ball effectively and winning the turnover battle. The Seahawks are the best in the league at doing both.
Since the preseason, despite the Seahawks having arguably the deepest and most well-rounded roster in the NFL, Denver has been considered the favorite to win the Super Bowl.
Thus far, the Broncos have lived up to those expectations, and the Seahawks have solidified themselves as the Broncos’ top-challengers.
Seattle’s offense finished the season in the top 10 for scoring. It was primarily due to their dominating rushing attack, led by “Beast Mode” Marshawn Lynch, and their high-efficiency passing game.
Seattle finished fourth in the league for total rushing yards (136.8 yards per game) while playing in a division consisting entirely of top-10 rushing defenses.
In unison with their running game, Russell Wilson led one of the most efficient passing attacks in the league. He averaged 8.25 yards per pass attempt (third in the league) while only throwing nine interceptions. He accomplished this all with a less-than-impressive receiving corps—especially considering the long absence of Percy Harvin.
Nevertheless, the most impressive unit on the Seahawks is their defense. They are the first defensive unit since the 1985 Chicago Bears to lead the league in points allowed, yards allowed and turnovers. Simply put, they are in a tier of their own.
As for Denver’s path to the Super Bowl, their offense led the league in scoring and yards for the regular season. They also set the NFL all-time season scoring record (606 points), and ended the season with a league-best 13-3 regular-season record.
Their defense, on a different note, was horrible for the majority of the season. They finished the regular season 27th against the pass and 19th in total defense. They have only begun to play well in the past four games.
In those games, they only gave up an average of 269 total yards—as opposed to the 372 yards per game given up in their first 14 games.
Three teams managed to defeat the Broncos this season: The San Diego Chargers, the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts. Each team defeated the Broncos in a similar fashion: creating more turnovers and running the ball effectively.
Each of the three teams had fewer turnovers than the Broncos during the game, and each rushed for over 115 yards—which is a bad day for the Seahawks' running backs.
Moreover, of Denver’s 15 wins, only once did they lose the turnover battle to a top-10 offense and still win the game—that was against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11.
By running the ball well and winning the turnover battle, inductive reasoning implies that these three teams were able to defeat the Broncos by reducing the amount of time Peyton Manning was on the field—which is the only reliable way to stop his offense.
The Seattle offense is much less flashy and dynamic than Denver’s. But on the whole, the Seahawks are a much better team.
Their elite defense is more than capable of containing Denver’s high-powered offense. And their offense is more than capable of running all over Denver’s suspect defense. If the Seahawks do both, they are almost guaranteed to win.
Denver is currently a 3.0-point favorite to win Super Bowl XLVIII, according to Odds Shark. However, once one looks beyond the glamour of Denver’s offense, it’s clear to see that the Seattle Seahawks have the upper hand in this matchup.