So, the dust has settled, the weak have been eliminated, the Crabtrees have been insulted, the Bradys have been bested, and here we are: Right where we thought we would be back in August.
Broncos vs. Seahawks.
The two No. 1 seeds. The two teams that many have thought were the class of their respective conferences since before this season began. We couldn’t possibly ask for a better match up: the league’s No. 1 offense against the league’s No. 1 defense. The veteran, record-setting QB against the fresh, young swagger of the Seattle D.
Beautiful, efficient offense, vs. ugly, smack-you-in-the-mouth defense and a power running game. It should be a Super Bowl for the ages, folks. And the result of this clash of behemoths — fittingly, at the home of the Giants, the New York ones — will be one for Coloradans to remember.
You heard it here, Peyton Manning and your Denver Broncos, my Denver Broncos, OUR Denver Broncos will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy tonight. Here’s why.
Experience is everything
Heading into tonight, I’m sure everyone has heard the media’s talking heads repeatedly harp on the fact that the Seahawks have zero players on their roster with Super Bowl experience. Meanwhile, the Broncos have four – Peyton Manning, aka PFM, Wes Welker, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Jacob Tamme. However, while the media tries to drum up nonsense like it has some sort of advantage, the experience that matters most in this game will not have anything to do with who has or has not played in a Super Bowl before.
After all, these are all professional athletes; they routinely play in front of 70,000-plus every week, and that’s not even taking into account the stages upon which many of these men played in college. No, the experience that will matter has to do with age and maturity, not how many times any player has taken the field for the Big Game.
The Broncos boast an impressive, veteran roster, with their core leaders (see: Manning, Peyton and Bailey, Champ) well into their mid-to-late 30s. Denver had the fourth-oldest team in the NFL this season, and Seattle had the fourth-youngest. In fact, Seattle will be lining up the second-youngest roster in Super Bowl history on Sunday.
And for all the swag that Richard “Mouth” Sherman and his crew bring to the table, swag doesn’t win championships … hard work does. And while these Seahawks are certainly a great — and I mean great — team, they simply have not had the NFL experience that the Broncos have. You best believe Peyton, Champ, Wes, and the rest of the Broncos’ many vets will have the team prepared for any situation, and as a result, the Broncos will me more crisp than the Seahawks.
Without a doubt, the most-anticipated battle-within-the-battle today will be the match up of Peyton and the Four Horsemen (Demaryius Thomas, Julian Thomas, Welker and Eric Decker) against the Seahawks Legion of Boom (Kam Chancellor, Sherman and Earl Thomas) in the secondary. This game will most likely come down to this match up, as everything the Broncos want to do is predicated on a successful passing attack, while the Seahawks have made their living by suffocating opposing quarterbacks and wide receivers. It’s a classic case of “something’s gotta give.”
So, what will give? Well, it ain’t gonna be easy for either team. The Broncos boast the best offense in NFL history by nearly any metric, while the Seahawks rank first in nearly every defensive category. Make no mistake, Seattle’s defense is one of the best units in recent memory. But, the Broncos’ offense is one of the best units in anyone’s memory.
One windy game in Foxboro notwithstanding, Peyton & Co. have moved the ball with nonchalance against pretty much everyone they’ve faced. Seattle is certainly the most formidable foe the Broncos have encountered this year, but I don’t think they’re invincible. Look for Peyton to rise to the occasion and throw 2-plus TDs and get to 300 yards, or at least damn close. After all, in his last five match ups against a season’s No. 1 defense, Peyton is 4-1 with eight TDs and only two INTs. He is not scared of facing an elite defensive squad.
Scared of New Jers-York?
While nearly everyone outside of Denver and Indianapolis clings to the myth that Peyton Manning can’t play in cold weather, the Seahawks, not the Broncos, are the team that should actually be quite nervous about playing in East Rutherford.
Without getting into a circular debate about one player’s effectiveness in the cold, I’ll discuss something much more statistically significant and relevant: under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks kinda suck when they’re not in Seattle. Yeah, this year’s Seahawks were pretty good on the road, and after all, they matched the Broncos’ road record at 6-2.
But even with their success this year, the Seahawks are only 15-20 on the road in Carroll’s tenure. How have the Broncos fared on the road under Fox? Well 17-8 isn’t perfect … but it’s a whole lot better than 15-20. Plus, while the Seahawks won six road games this year, those wins included nail-biters against juggernauts like Houston and Saint Louis. Plain and simple, the Seahawks have consistently shown that they’re kinda shaky away from the confines of CenturyLink Field. They should be much more nervous about playing in New York/New Jersey than the Broncos.
The PFM Factor
All told, though, I think the Broncos will win this game for one reason: Peyton Manning. The 38-year-old wonder is having the best season of his career, at an age nobody thought was possible. He has been on a mission ever since that gut-wrenching loss to the Ravens this past season. He won’t lose this game. He knows he only has a few years left, if that. He needs this for his legacy. He needs this to shut up his haters for good. He needs this to take his rightful place as the greatest QB to ever play the game (queue Chris Freud crying out “Joe Montana!”). Peyton will not be denied and neither will the Blue and Orange.
Let’s get it, Broncos. Do us proud.
(Broncos 27, Seahawks 24.)
Ascher Robbins is a 2008 Battle Mountain High School graduate. He is now the CEO and editor-in-chief at Writtalin. You can check out his writings on sports and much more at www.writtalin.com.