NFL Playoffs

Simulating Super Bowl XLVIII

Eric MackFantasy Football Lead WriterFebruary 1, 2014

Simulating Super Bowl XLVIII

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    If you cannot wait until game time for Super Bowl XLVIII, we have your paper champions right here at Bleacher Report. We simulated the game 10 times and came up with the same general result that PredictionMachine.com (@PredictMachine) ended up with.

    We could not believe the Seattle Seahawks won almost 55 percent of the time in Prediction Machine's 50,000 simulations, so we decided to try it for ourselves at WhatIfSports.com

    With the weather forecast predicting game-time temperatures in the mid-40s with cloudy skies, no precipitation and a very light breeze, courtesy of AccuWeather, we figured our results would side more heavily in the Denver Broncos' favor. Those conditions represent what was going to be a best-case scenario for the Broncos' record-setting offense in the first winter outdoor Super Bowl.

    Good thing for Peyton Manning and Co. that Super Bowls are not won on paper or with data simulations.

    Each of the following 10 slides has a different scenario for the game. We present you a quick recap of the game, the MVP, winning betting tickets and a link to a full stats box score—the latter of which is the coolest of all. Let's shake the magic eight ball a few times and see what the numbers have in store for us, Denver and Seattle.

Simulation I: Seattle Seahawks 21, Denver Broncos 14

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Despite the near-perfect conditions for the Denver Broncos, the Legion of Boom limits Peyton Manning's record-breaking aerial assault to just 168 yards and one touchdown to win Super Bowl XLVIII B/R Simulation I, 21-14.

    Marshawn Lynch plunged in from the 1-yard line with 1:02 remaining for the decisive touchdown after Manning connected with Demaryius Thomas just four minutes earlier for a game-tying 38-yard touchdown. Lynch finished with 93 yards rushing, and Thomas caught four passes for 102 yards.

    Russell Wilson was named game MVP for his two touchdown passes to Doug Baldwin, who finished with four receptions for 35 yards. The Seahawks dominated the time of possession, controlling the ball for almost 36 minutes compared to the Broncos' 24.

    MVP: Russell Wilson, 16-of-25 for 162 yards and two touchdowns

    Winning tickets: Seattle +3, Under 47

    See the What If Sports box score here.

Simulation II: Denver Broncos 27, Seattle Seahawks 10

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    With so many stars on the Denver Broncos offense, no one could have seen this performance coming from rookie running back Montee Ball. He rushed for 77 yards and two big touchdowns to lead the Broncos over the Seattle Seahawks 27-10 in Super Bowl XLVIII B/R Simulation II.

    While Manning was limited to 242 yards and a touchdown, he did most of his damage by picking up first downs to let the running game take over. Ball, replacing the less-effective Knowshon Moreno (17 carries for 31 yards), scored from 21 yards out in the third quarter to tie the game at 10-10 and from 30 yards out to put the game away in the fourth quarter.

    Moreno did take a Manning pass in from seven yards out to give the Broncos their first lead on the first play of the fourth quarter.

    Seattle led 10-3 at the half. Russell Wilson was just 12-of-24 for 165 yards and a first-quarter touchdown to Zach Miller for 24 yards.

    MVP: Montee Ball, 77 yards rushing, two touchdowns

    Winning betting tickets: Denver -3, Under 47

    See the What If Sports box score here.

Simulation III: Seattle Seahawks 19, Denver Broncos 17

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    Russell Wilson and Golden Tate's careers will no longer be decided by a simultaneous catch that ended the replacement referees in 2012. They connected on two second-quarter touchdown passes to put the Seahawks up 16-0—thanks in part to a first-quarter safety. The Seahawks held off Manning for a 19-17 victory in Super Bowl XLVIII B/R Simulation III.

    Manning was held to just 181 yards passing, with both of his touchdowns coming in the waning seconds of each half. He couldn't muster much of anything until the Broncos were working against softer coverage in the two-minute drill against the Legion of Boom.

    MVP: Russell Wilson, 12-of-16 for 157 yards, two touchdowns (39 yards rushing)

    Winning betting tickets: Seattle +3, Under 47

    See the What If Sports box score here.

Simulation IV: Seattle Seahawks 28, Denver Broncos 14

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    The Denver Broncos knew they had to shut down Marshawn Lynch, but knowing it and doing it are two different things. He rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Seattle Seahawks to a 28-14 victory in Super Bowl XLVIII B/R Simulation IV.

    Lynch had his game on Beast Mode, while the Legion of Boom limited Manning to just 14-of-24 passing for 168 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

    As unstoppable as Lynch was, though, Russell Wilson's 11-yard touchdown in the final minute of the first half was a back-breaker for the Broncos. The Seattle quarterback was an efficient 13-of-17 for 160 yards and a touchdown through the air. Doug Baldwin led all receivers with 88 yards receiving on four catches, with three for 20-plus yards.

    Kam Chancellor picked off a Manning pass, as the record-breaking quarterback couldn't muster anything against the Legion of Boom in the fourth quarter.

    MVP: Marshawn Lynch, 121 yards rushing, two touchdowns

    Winning betting tickets: Seattle +3, Under 47

    See the What If Sports box score here.

Simulation V: Seattle Seahawks 27, Denver Broncos 9

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Defense wins a championship again. The Legion of Boom picked off a frustrated Peyton Manning twice, holding the record-setting quarterback to just 197 yards passing en route to a surprising 27-9 Seattle Seahawks blowout of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII B/R Simulation V.

    Marshawn Lynch was named MVP for his 91 yards rushing and two touchdowns, but the defense really won this game. Kam Chancellor picked off Manning twice but got snubbed for MVP honors. Also, injury-returnee Percy Harvin broke the game open with a 90-yard catch-and-run from Russell Wilson to put the Seahawks up 20-6 with just under 20 minutes left to play.

    Wilson finished just 8-of-20 for 209 yards and the touchdown, but he outproduced Manning. The Broncos could muster only three field goals in one of the most impressive defensive performances in Super Bowl history.

    MVP: Marshawn Lynch, 91 yards rushing, two touchdowns

    Winning betting tickets: Seattle +3, Under 47

    See the What If Sports box score here.

Simulation VI: Denver Broncos 24, Seattle Seahawks 16

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Despite playing in the first outdoor winter conditions in Super Bowl history, the weather conditions were nearly perfect for Peyton Manning. Manning was nearly perfect, too.

    He completed 19 of 21 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Denver Broncos over the Seattle Seahawks 24-16 in Super Bowl XLVIII B/R Simulation VI. Despite the near flawless performance, Knowshon Moreno was named MVP for his 123 yards rushing, which was punctuated by a one-yard touchdown in the third quarter that put Denver up 24-6.

    Seattle was able to match Moreno and the Broncos on the ground behind a game-high 126 yards rushing and a touchdown from Marshawn Lynch, but Russell Wilson folded in his first Super Bowl appearance. He was just 13-of-22 for 156 yards, one touchdown and an interception.

    Denver went up 17-0 in the second quarter, and its defense took over, giving the Broncos almost a 10-minute advantage in time of possession.

    MVP: Knowshon Moreno, 123 yards rushing, one touchdown (two catches for 27 yards)

    Winning betting tickets: Denver -3, Under 47

    See the What If Sports box score here.

Simulation VII: Seattle Seahawks 21, Denver Broncos 16

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    If the simultaneous catch put Golden Tate and Russell Wilson on the map, their touchdown with 1:11 remaining etched their legacy here. The Seattle Seahawks rallied over the Denver Broncos 21-16 to win Super Bowl XLVIII B/R Simulation VII.

    Wilson put the Seahawks ahead twice, first with a four-yard touchdown run in the middle of the third quarter (14-10) and then in the final minutes with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Tate. The score left Peyton Manning with a last-ditch effort to win the game late but to no avail.

    It was an interesting decision by Tate to step into the end zone with his Seahawks trailing just 16-14 because of a Matt Prater missed extra point at the end of the third quarter. Had he taken a knee at the 1-yard line, the Seahawks could have run more time off the clock and perhaps left themselves with just a last-second field goal to avoid giving the ball back to Manning and the Broncos.

    Perhaps the Prater missed extra point kept the Seahawks from risking anything on a short kick and taking the touchdown. The Legion of Boom kept Manning, who finished with 198 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, out of the end zone in the final minute.

    MVP: Russell Wilson, 10-of-16 for 135 yards passing, one touchdown

    Winning betting tickets: Seattle +3, Under 47

    See the What If Sports box score here.

Simulation VIII: Seattle Seahawks 21, Denver Broncos 3

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    No one could have seen this coming...no matter how much you liked the Legion of Boom and the Seattle Seahawks defense. MVP Russell Wilson throws three first-half touchdown passes, including one in the final minute, to lead the Seahawks to a shocking 21-3 blowout of Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII B/R Simulation VIII.

    Manning's record-setting offense was held to just one field goal and a putrid 93 yards passing. He threw one interception.

    Wilson might have stolen MVP honors with his 21-of-24 passing for 226 yards and three scores, but it was defense that carried the day. Kam Chancellor led the way with seven tackles and one interception, punctuating the mantra "defense wins championships." Neither team scored in the second half.

    MVP: Russell Wilson, 20-of-24 for 226 yards passing, three touchdowns

    Winning betting tickets: Seattle +3, Under 47

    See the What If Sports box score here.

Simulation IX: Denver Broncos 28, Seattle Seahawks 16

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    The Denver Broncos blow a 14-3 first-quarter lead but rally in the fourth quarter with a pair of rushing touchdowns to defeat the Seattle Seahawks 28-16 in Super Bowl XLVIII B/R Simulation IX. The Broncos running backs carry the day with four combined touchdowns, two apiece for MVP Knowshon Moreno and rookie Montee Ball.

    The Seahawks fell behind early but rallied with a big second quarter, which culminated in a Russell Wilson three-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zach Miller and a 16-14 lead at the half.

    The score remained that way until Moreno put the Broncos on top for good a minute into the fourth quarter with his second touchdown of the game, a three-yard run. Moreno and the Broncos struck quickly at the outset, as Peyton Manning hit Moreno for a touchdown pass at the goal line only two minutes into the game.

    Ball put the game out of reach with 1:41 left with his second rushing touchdown of the game. The Broncos outrushed the Seahawks 120-51 as Marshawn Lynch was bottled up for 25 yards on 19 carries and Russell Wilson was just 11-of-21 passing.

    Everyone was talking about Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom, but the Broncos won this day with outstanding play on both sides of their lines.

    MVP: Knowshon Moreno, 93 yards rushing, one touchdown (one reception for one yard and a touchdown)

    Winning betting tickets: Denver -3, Under 47

    See the What If Sports box score here.

Simulation X: Denver Broncos 31, Seattle Seahawks 24

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    Peyton Manning cements his legacy the same way that the man who brought him to Denver, John Elway, did, by relying on a strong running game. The Denver Broncos are champions again, beating the Seattle Seahawks 31-24 in Super Bowl XLVIII B/R Simulation X.

    The Broncos rushed for 173 yards on the Seahawks defense, running away with a pair of touchdowns that put the game away in the third quarter, 31-14. Seattle had tied the game in the second quarter 14-14, but a Matt Prater field goal sent the Broncos into the half with a lead they would not relinquish.

    Marshawn Lynch was bottled up, rushing for a touchdown to give Seattle a 7-0 lead out of the gate, but finishing with just 37 yards on 21 carries. He would add a fourth-quarter touchdown, but it was too little, too late.

    Manning went a modest 14-of-22 passing for 197 yards and a touchdown, but the backs carried the day. MVP Knowshon Moreno combined for 155 yards, while Montee Ball helped grind out the clock with 53 yards and contributed a pair of first-half touchdowns.

    MVP: Knowshon Moreno, 103 yards rushing, one touchdown (52 yards receiving)

    Winning betting tickets: Denver -3, Over 47

    See the What If Sports box score here.

Simulation Recap: Seattle Seahawks Win Six out of 10 over the Denver Broncos

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    While it is conceivable the Seattle Seahawks win 60 percent of simulations here, it is not believable the What If Sports number crunching couldn't find one result where Peyton Manning wins a Super Bowl MVP. Heck, even Montee Ball was named a game MVP once in there.

    The player with the most Super Bowl experience and biggest NFL legacy gets shut out? Interesting.

    Blame it on the Legion of Boom.

    Simulation I: Seattle Seahawks 21, Denver Broncos 14 (MVP: Russell Wilson)
    Simulation II: Denver Broncos 27, Seattle Seahawks 10 (MVP: Montee Ball)
    Simulation III: Seattle Seahawks 19, Denver Broncos 17 (MVP: Wilson)
    Simulation IV: Seattle Seahawks 28, Denver Broncos 14 (MVP: Marshawn Lynch)
    Simulation V: Seattle Seahawks 27, Denver Broncos 9 (MVP: Lynch)
    Simulation VI: Denver Broncos 24, Seattle Seahawks 16 (MVP: Knowshon Moreno)
    Simulation VII: Seattle Seahawks 21, Denver Broncos 16 (MVP: Wilson)
    Simulation VIII: Seattle Seahawks 21, Denver Broncos 3 (MVP: Wilson)
    Simulation IX: Denver Broncos 28, Seattle Seahawks 16 (MVP: Moreno)
    Simulation X: Denver Broncos 31, Seattle Seahawks 24 (MVP: Moreno)

     

    Average score: Seattle Seahawks 20.3, Denver Broncos 18.3

    Our results here fly a bit in the face of What If Sports' simulation recap, which had the Denver Broncos winning 50.7 percent of the time by an average score of 24-23. In those simulations, Peyton Manning averaged 263 yards passing. He couldn't reach that total once in our 10 tries, topping 200 yards just twice.

    Not satisfied with our 10-game study or the What If Sports combined results? Replay the action for yourself endlessly with their simulation engine here.

    Absolutely anything is possible. This should be one of the more exciting Super Bowls in history with one of the game's all-time best quarterbacks in a classic battle of the No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense.

     

     

    Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game.

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