The Super Bowl is not merely the culmination of the 2014 NFL season, but it is a gambler’s paradise. For all the bettors out there, here’s a last-minute look at the betting line for the sport’s biggest event. The line has—surprisingly—not moved since it opened with the Denver Broncos being favored by 2.5 points, per Vegas Insider.
Should the Broncos really be favored over the Seattle Seahawks, though?
In a matchup of the No. 1 offense in the league (and perhaps of all time) against the No. 1 defense, history dictates that you should sprint—not walk or even jog—to your nearest casino and put money down on the Seahawks.
That whole “defense wins championships” maxim actually has some weight. Here’s a look at the seven other teams that led the league in scoring and made the Super Bowl. (Spoiler! It doesn’t look too good for Denver):
|Offensive Powerhouses in the Super Bowl|
|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|
Only one high-octane offense scored over 20 points in the Super Bowl or won the championship: the 1999 St. Louis Rams. Peyton Manning’s offense has broken records all season long, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Denver buck that trend, but the correlation is pretty strong.
Obviously, nobody knows what’s going to happen, but the Seahawks look like they are built to take on the offensive juggernaut that is the Broncos offense.
The Manning-led unit relies on timing and quick throws, and No. 18 had the shortest fuse in the league when it comes to releasing those bombs (or “ducks” as it were). According to Pro Football Focus, he got rid of the ball in an average of 2.36 seconds (subscription required).
The Broncos use bunch formations, motion and route combinations (pick and rub plays) to give their receivers free releases so that Manning can hit them quickly in space where they can pick up yards after the catch—Denver led the league with 2,751 yards after catch, according to Sporting Charts.
Guess which team was the best defense in the league at preventing yards after the catch?
Those pesky Seattle Seahawks gave up 85.1 yards after the catch per game and were one of only two teams to allow under 100 YAC per game.
The Seahawks defense is built around the physical press coverage of the Seattle corners (and apparently some guy named Richard Sherman), which disrupts the offense and gives the pass rush enough time to get to the quarterback.
Which leads me into my next topic: Seattle’s scary pass rush. They only ranked eighth with 44 regular-season sacks, but the pressure they generate goes beyond the box score. As such, they were rated as Pro Football Focus' best pass rush in the league (subscription required).
And everybody knows that the key to beating a great quarterback is putting him on his backside.
One of the other key aspects to defeating a legendary quarterback is making sure he’s on the sidelines…and the Seahawks can do that too.
Only the Buffalo Bills racked up more rushing attempts than Seattle, and the man they call “Beast Mode,” Marshawn Lynch, is sure to play a large role in this championship tilt.
Then there’s the fact that the Broncos offense hasn’t looked so dominant in its two playoff games so far:
With the game tightening up and the referees letting defenders be more physical on the outside, the Broncos haven’t been able to punch it into the end zone as easily as they did in the regular season.
Defense wins championship, folks, and defense will win you money on Super Bowl Sunday.