Few Super Bowls have presented a greater challenge in predicting the final points total than this year’s matchup between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, but there are still some clues about how this one might end up.
The Seahawks can boast a truly dominant defense, while the Broncos possess a historically great offense, so it’s tough to peg exactly which unit will come out on top.
However, with the over-under for the game sitting at 48.5 right now, according to Vegas Insider, it seems the oddsmakers are expecting a high-scoring affair.
While anything could happen, it sure seems as if they’ll be right with this prediction.
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Date and Time: Sunday, Feb. 2, at 6:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Spread: Broncos -2.5, per Vegas Insider (as of Feb. 1)
Over-Under: 48.5, per Vegas Insider (as of Feb. 1)
There’s no denying how incredible the Broncos offense has been the season.
They averaged an absolutely insane 37.9 points per game in the regular season, and although they’ve slowed down a bit in the postseason, they’re still averaging 25.0 per game.
Peyton Manning has taken the offense into another stratosphere, and if there’s any reason to think the Super Bowl will rocket past a total of 47 points, it’s this offense.
The Seahawks are probably the most imposing defense the Broncos have faced thus far, and offenses are more apt to lose their rhythm after the extended break between the conference championship game and the Super Bowl, but that shouldn’t be an issue for Denver.
Grantland’s Bill Barnwell explains just how excellent the Broncos have been this season:
Denver’s offense scored, as mentioned earlier, 606 points. Just behind it, in second place, were the Chicago Bears, who scored … 445 points. That’s absurd. How absurd? You pick a reason!
1. Denver could have stopped scoring after its 35-28 win against the Chiefs in Week 13 and spent the final four weeks of the regular season delivering pizzas, and it still would have led the league in scoring by 19 points.
2. Manning & Co. had as many 50-point games (three) as the rest of the league combined.
3. The Broncos averaged 37.9 points per game. No other team was within 10 points per game of their average.
4. Those Bears averaged 27.8 points per game, 10.1 points per contest away from Denver. They were closer to the 30th-ranked offense of Tampa Bay (18.0 points per game) than they were to Denver.
It’s not really accurate to say the Broncos led the NFL in scoring. Denver was really in its own universe, and then there were 31 other teams playing football.
It’s also worth considering Manning’s stellar record of scoring in the playoffs.
In his two years with Denver, the team’s lowest point total came in the divisional round against San Diego, when it could muster a comparatively low 24 points.
Even in last year’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the team put up a boatload of points, scoring 35 in defeat.
Manning’s worst performance in recent memory came all the way back in 2010, when he was still with the Indianapolis Colts, as the offense faltered against the New York Jets, scoring 16 points.
But that doesn’t exactly seem to be the norm with Manning recently. Instead, his offenses have been stellar no matter who they’ve played in the last few years.
The one thing that could derail Denver’s plan to score in bunches is Seattle’s dominant defense.
While they might not necessarily be as historically good as the Broncos offense has been, they’re still an insanely talented bunch.
Once more, Barnwell puts it all in context:
Seattle allowed a league-low 231 points this year, with opposing teams scoring just 14.4 points per game against Richard Sherman & Co.
That’s a good number any year, but it looks even better in the context of the highest-scoring season in league history; Seattle sliced nine points per game off the average offense’s output this year.
The Seahawks have been particularly good at pressuring opposing quarterbacks, finishing eighth in the league in sacks in the regular season, and they’ll be looking to keep it up against Manning.
“We don’t talk a lot about sacks,’’ Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn told Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times. “We do talk a lot about affecting the quarterback. Can we get him off his spot? Put pressure on him? The hits, the movements. Those are the things we talk to our club the most about. … Sacks are great. But let’s make sure he is not being comfortable throwing.’’
Manning’s offensive line has done a fantastic job of keeping him upright this season, allowing the fewest sacks in the league in the regular season, but it'll have to continue that success against the Seahawks if Denver wants to score.
Looking back to that Jets loss, Rex Ryan was able to generate pressure on Manning to hold the passing game in check. They only sacked him once, but they made him uncomfortable in the pocket all game long, and it’s no mistake that the offense sputtered afterward.
If Seattle can keep the heat on Manning, it might be able to hold the point total down in this one.
But the force of Manning’s offense just seems so overwhelming that, even if Seattle can slow it slightly, it will still end up lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 20 points or more.
If the Seahawks offense can keep up, then they’ll have no trouble exceeding the 48.5 points marked as this game’s over-under.