When you really break it down, this year's Super Bowl has everything you could possibly want.
Superstars. The two best teams all season long. A compelling matchup between arguably the greatest offense of all time and one of the best defenses in years. Heck, even an outdoor game in a cold city, making the weather one of the storylines.
Will Peyton Manning cement his legacy as the best quarterback to ever play the game? Will Richard Sherman once again walk the walk after he's talked the talk? Will the league's best offense trump the league's best defense, or vice versa?
Add it all up, and this has the potential to be the best Super Bowl in years.
The storylines are all in place to keep the more casual viewers in place, but when you really break this game down into matchups, it gets even more interesting.
For instance, a huge part of this game will be whether Seattle can generate pressure with its front four, allowing the secondary to remain in its press Cover-3 scheme. Doing so against the Broncos may not be so easy, however, as ESPN's Numbers Never Lie explored:
On the other hand, Bill Barnwell of Grantland noted that the Seattle Seahawks defensive scheme takes away two major parts of the Denver Broncos passing game—the pick plays across the middle, and the deep fades thrown over the top.
In essence, Barnwell surmises that it's tough to gain an advantage over the middle against Seattle with pick plays and crossing routes because they generally stay in a zone scheme. And since they have big, physical corners, winning those matchups over the top is less likely than against smaller corners.
To his credit, it doesn't seem as though Manning will shy away from any of Seattle's defenders, as he told Peter King of MMQB:
You talk to other people around the league. You talk to some teams that have played against them, some quarterbacks and coaches, and you might take some suggestions … ‘Hey, this is not a good route to throw on Sherman. We did not want to do that route.’ You know, whatever that is. And then you form your opinion as you watch it.
At the same time, you have to do the things that got you here. So there are certain things that have worked well for us. You feel like you have to do them. I mean, Demaryius Thomas is on the right side a lot. Richard Sherman plays left corner a lot. You can’t just not try to get the ball to Demaryius. It’s not like you can’t throw his way, because you’ve got to try to get the ball to Demaryius if he’s over there. I think playing Sherman, he demands precision.
Everyone wants to see the Broncos passing game against the “Legion of Boom” secondary, there are no two ways about it. That means Denver's running game could be an important part of the equation, though the Seahawks are no slouches against the run and, ultimately, the Broncos fate will lay in the right arm of Manning.
Of course, there is the other matchup to consider—the Seahawks offense versus the Broncos defense. At its core, this battle really comes down to whether or not Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle offensive line can consistently gain yards on the ground.
Not only is that Seattle's style on offense, but chewing up clock and keeping the ball out of Manning's hands will be an added bonus.
But keep in mind that in the playoffs, against two teams that run the ball well (the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots), the Denver defense allowed just 129 yards on the ground. The Broncos don't have a great defense by any stretch, but they are tough against the run.
And you can bet they'll prioritize shutting down Lynch and forcing Russell Wilson to beat them through the air.
Any way you slice it, this matchup seems bound to be close. Each team is suited to attack the strengths of the other, meaning the likelihood of a surprise hero in the David Tyree mold emerging is a very real possibility.
Don't tune in for the commercials. Don't leave during the game to throw a few more wings on your plate. Coordinate your bathroom breaks carefully.
This game has the makings of being a classic.
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