Game planning is about maximizing your team's strength and hiding its weaknesses. In the Super Bowl, this concept is magnified, as is everything else associated with the big game.
The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks coaching staffs must hit MetLife Stadium on Sunday with the strategy that will bring their organization a championship.
Running the ball effectively is essential for both sides.
Seattle needs to move the ball on the ground and control time of possession to win. The Broncos lost the time of possession battle in two of their three losses during the regular season.
The only exception was the loss to the New England Patriots. Denver blew a 24-point lead in that one.
Likewise, Denver can't depend too heavily on Peyton Manning's arm. It needs to run the ball to create balance. All three teams that have beaten the Seahawks this season ran for at least 100 yards.
As great as Manning is, he and Denver's receivers won't beat Seattle alone.
That's a common goal for both teams, but Denver and Seattle have unique weaknesses that each must prevent from being exploited.
Here is each teams' biggest potential pitfall and the information needed to watch the Super Bowl.
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
When: Sunday, Feb. 2, at 6:30 p.m. EST
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Spread: Broncos -2.5, per Vegas Insider
Over/Under: 48, per CBS Sports
In the Seahawks' three losses, the team was penalized an average of 8.3 times for 90.6 yards. If the Seahawks are that undisciplined against Manning and the Broncos, it will spell trouble.
Denver's record-breaking offense is too good to give extra yards with defensive penalties. On the other side of the ball, Seattle doesn't have the type of explosive offense that can convert a ton of third and long situations.
Penalties will put them behind the eight ball and in trouble.
Against the Broncos, penalties could be an even bigger deal. As David Fleming of ESPN.com writes, Denver is excellent at drawing flags:
On Super Sunday, the Seahawks DBs will meet their match in Denver's crafty wideouts. Broncos receiver Eric Decker drew five PI calls this year, tied for third most in the NFL, and Wes Welker had a dubious divisional round fourth-quarter flop in a win over San Diego. Most observers thought it was inadvertent contact between Welker and safety Marcus Gilchrist; refs said it was a 23-yard foul.
Whatever the case, Seattle's secondary will have to find the happy medium between aggressive and smart play.
Giving the ball away is obviously a bad thing for any team, but the Broncos have really struggled with this in their losses. In the three defeats, Denver has a total of eight turnovers.
Going against the team that led the NFL in takeaways makes this even more alarming.
The Seahawks' big and athletic secondary will present a significant problem for Denver's offense. Seattle's coaching staff teaches its players to seek out the turnover. It's a drill they run every Thursday in practice.
In preparation for the Super Bowl, things were no different. The session is called Turnover Thursday—one look at the team's 39 total takeaways in the regular season is proof.
Seattle's defensive end Cliff Avril spoke about Turnover Thursday with Peter Schrager and Mike Garafalo:
Turnover Thursday is a cool concept that I didn't know much about until I got here... It's a day that the defense tries to get as many turnovers as possible. I think that we've gotten a turnover every Thursday except for one week all season. It shows up on Sunday, too, so it's pretty cool to see it correlate.
If Seattle can carry this concept over to one more Sunday, they'll be champions and the Broncos will be wondering what went wrong.
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