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?
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|
|Year||Team||Reg. Season Avg. Points||SB Points Scored||Result|
|1966||Kansas City Chiefs||32.00||10||L|
|1999||St. Louis Rams||32.88||23||W|
|2007||New England Patriots||36.81||14||L|
|2011||New England Patriots||32.06||17||L|
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|
|Location||Points Allowed/Game||Yards Allowed/Game|
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:
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)
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