There’s one question you should ask yourself before trying to figure out who will win The Big Game on Sunday: “Am I a believer in the offense or the defense?” It’s that easy, judging by the numbers.
Evidently, both the Broncos and Seahawks have been the best teams this season so their run to the Super Bowl doesn’t catch anyone by surprise. Master and Commander Peyton Manning tossed an NFL-record 55 touchdown passes this season which led to another NFL-record 606 points. His 5,477 yards put him into another quarterback stratosphere and experts might argue that the 2013 Denver Broncos possess the best offense in NFL history.
His counterpart Russell Wilson threw for 3,357 yards and recorded 26 touchdown passes, which is less then half of Peyton’s accolades. However, this is the real beauty of Super Bowl XLVIII. The matchup of the quarterbacks, although essential, doesn’t tell the whole story of who might prevail. Seattle counters Denver’s offensive machinery with an elite defense, allowing a league-low 231 points this year or 14.4 points per game. As the Broncos fare well historically thanks to their spectacular offense teams, so do the Seahawks when talking best defenses in NFL history.
If you take all these numbers into account, what does it come down to then? Luck, who has the best day in terms of their play or the strongest will to win? Diving a little deeper into the statistical analysis of both teams, you could make an argument that neither the Broncos nor the Seahawks have faced as fierce of an opponent with such a strong skill set as they will on Sunday. Denver played the third-easiest slate in terms of opposing defenses while Seattle had the second-easiest schedule of opposing offenses in football.
So where do we stand with that?
Can we forecast that Peyton Manning won’t have a field day against Richard Sherman because he’s rarely faced a cornerback of his class? Or will the Seattle defense falter against the Broncos’ wide receiver core of Wes Welker and Erik Decker? On top of that, will the weather play a role as Super Bowl XLVIII will be played in New Jersey this year? If you were to pick one weakness in Peyton Manning’s game, it would be his play in rough weather conditions. Could this be an advantage for Russell Wilson who is used to bad weather in Seattle?
These are all valid aspects that you have to consider while answering the initial question mentioned above. Do you believe in Denver’s high-octane offense or is your mantra “defense wins championships?” Still undecided? Then let’s look at the other side of each team’s play. Denver’s defense clearly took a backseat in comparison to the offense and experts might argue, that the Broncos aren’t that good defensively. Although it hasn’t been great most of the year, their rush defense was good and their pass defense in the post-season has stepped up. The numbers are also a little deceiving being a direct byproduct of the uptempo hyper-speed offense that not only creates plenty of possessions for themselves, but also a lot of possessions for their own defense. During the playoffs, Denver showed that they can control Philip Rivers and Tom Brady. A mediocre defense with the extra Super Bowl motivation could take out Seattle’s wide receivers and focus on Marshawn Lynch, who is the true lynchpin of the Seahawks’ offense. Key injuries to Denver’s secondary and a surprise performance for the ages by wide receiver Percy Harvin, however, could derail this argument. The Broncos also didn’t play a quarterback with a running game like Russell Wilson, who adds another dimension to the Seahawks’ offense and could wreak havoc on Champ Bailey and Co.
Both teams proved in the playoffs that they’re able to pose their will upon high-quality opponents. Denver outclassed Tom Brady and the Patriots, Seattle shut down the Saints and 49ers. Super Bowl XLVIII is the true battle of philosophies. Offense versus defense, the quarterback versus the cornerback and the interesting question, “which team will be able to rip a page out of the opponent’s book of strengths?” Rarely has there been a Super Bowl where the teams are so evenly matched due to their domination on one side of the field.
This article was written by Robert Jerzy for Highsnobiety.com