Super Bowl

Super Bowl 2014 Point Spread: Predicting Final Box Score for Seahawks vs Broncos

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 19:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks drops back against the San Francisco 49ers during the 2014 NFC Championship at CenturyLink Field on January 19, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Shehan PeirisCorrespondent IIIFebruary 2, 2014

The Super Bowl is one of the biggest sporting events of the year, which means it’s also one of the most important dates on the calendar for those who like to make a wager or three. The battle between the NFL’s two best teams features a titanic encounter including a Denver Broncos offense and Seattle Seahawks defense that are historically good. Which way should you be leaning if you’re placing a bet?

 

Betting Numbers

Michael Conroy/Associated Press
Betting Numbers
SpreadOver/Under
DEN -2.548
VegasInsider.com

It’s tough to pick one way or another, but history says you should be more inclined to side with the Seahawks. You know that old adage: Defense wins championships? There’s actually some reason to believe in it.

Here’s a look at the seven previous league-leading offenses that made it to the Super Bowl:

High-Scoring Super Bowl Teams
YearTeamReg. Season Avg. PointsSB Points ScoredResult
1966Kansas City Chiefs32.0010L
1967Oakland Raiders33.4314L
1983Washington Redskins33.819L
1984Miami Dolphins32.0616L
1999St. Louis Rams32.8823W
2007New England Patriots36.8114L
2011New England Patriots32.0617L
2013Denver Broncos37.87??
ESPN

The 1999 St. Louis Rams were the only team to score over 20 points or win the Super Bowl. The Denver Broncos are certainly capable of breaking the mold—after all, they’ve done it all year—but they’ll have their work cut out for them against a Seattle defense that gave up 14.4 points per game in the regular season and an average of 16 points in their two postseason games.

Furthermore, a common criticism of the Seahawks is that they’re just a “home-field team.” Playing at CenturyLink Field may be the toughest thing to do in the NFL, but they’re no slouch away from home either—especially on the defensive end of the spectrum.

Seahawks D - Home & Away
LocationPoints Allowed/GameYards Allowed/Game
Home13.75254.25
Away15.13293
ESPN

The defensive performance of the Seahawks is slightly less impressive on the road, as one would expect, but just their numbers away from Seattle would have made them the best defense in the league in terms of yards allowed and second-best in terms of points allowed.

Then there’s the postseason performance of the high-powered Broncos offense:

The Broncos aren't putting up ridiculous numbers like they did all year.
The Broncos aren't putting up ridiculous numbers like they did all year.Stats courtesy of ESPN

Peyton Manning isn't moving the ball with the same ease.
Peyton Manning isn't moving the ball with the same ease.Stats courtesy of ESPN

Sure, you can make the argument that playoff competition is tougher than the regular season, but that’s kind of irrelevant since the Seahawks are the best team Denver has played all year.

You could also make the case that the dip in production is because the refs let the game get more physical in the postseason. That, too, would be irrelevant since the Super Bowl is the culmination of the postseason (shocker!) and the refs are going to call the game the same way they’ve been calling the entire playoffs.

That’s not to say that the Seahawks will stroll to victory—far from it. It should be a thoroughly entertaining game that is close all the way through, but the Seahawks are the smarter choice as the underdog.

 

Verdict: Pick the Seahawks (+2.5)

 

Game Prediction

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 19:  Cornerback Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks reacts on the sideline after tipping a pass which led to a Seahawks game-clinching interception late in the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers during the 2014 NF
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

We know it will be a tremendous game and a close one at that, but how will it end?

The first ingredient in beating Peyton Manning is hitting him early and often. That will be a strength for the Seahawks and their pass rush that was ProFootballFocus’ highest-rated pass rush (subscription required) in the league this year.

Next up for any Manning-led offense is disrupting the timing. The ability of the Seahawks cornerbacks to jam receivers off the line of scrimmage and give their pass rush enough time to get to Manning will be critical.

According to ProFootballFocus’ Signature Stats (subscription required), Manning had the quickest trigger in the league this year, getting rid of the ball in just 2.36 seconds. That quick release is so important because Manning is as far from Russell Wilson as possible when it comes to mobility—both in and out of the pocket.

Furthermore, so much of the Denver offense is based on using formations and route combinations to get receivers open quickly. That won’t be so easy against Richard Sherman and the Seattle defense, and that will be a problem for the Broncos offense.

Advantage, game, set, match to the Seahawks.

 

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 24, Denver Broncos 20

 

 

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