Here are some of the early stories looking ahead to the Seahawks-Broncos Super Bowl matchup Feb. 2 in East Rutherford, N.J.
Hard to ask for much more than Manning’s record-setting offense against the brash Seattle defense. This should be a game of strength versus strength, though how both teams perform when the roles are flipped — the Seahawks’ inconsistent offense against the Broncos’ average defense — may determine the outcome.
And, of course, a lingering X-factor: the weather. Early forecasts project decent conditions on Feb. 2, but those expectations could switch in a flash. The worse the weather gets on Super Bowl Sunday, the more it should favor Seattle, given how reliant Denver is on its passing attack.
Make Wilson uncomfortable: When the Broncos had Russell Wilson in for a visit leading up to the 2012 draft, Broncos officials loved his confidence, his composure and his potential leadership abilities. And now Wilson will become just the sixth quarterback to start a Super Bowl in either his rookie or second season. Wilson will hold the ball at times to try to make a play, but he is accurate on the move and the Seahawks are comfortable having him throw after dropping back or playing him out of an option look. The Broncos will have to be disciplined in the rush and find a way to create more pressure than they did against Tom Brady on Sunday.
This is the first time in NFL history that an offense ranked first in points and yards will face off against a defense leading the league in points and yards allowed. These were the best two NFL teams all season, and they couldn’t be more different. It feels like the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks play in different eras, not different conferences.
Seattle has the best pass defense Manning has faced. This Super Bowl is such a great matchup. Manning is coming off the best season for a quarterback in NFL history, but the Seahawks have by far the best pass defense in the NFL. This year’s Seahawks were just the second team ever in a 16-game season to lead the league in both passing yards allowed and interceptions. The only other team to do it was Tampa Bay in 2002, and those Buccaneers won the Super Bowl. Manning has a tall order against Seattle.
What makes (Richard) Sherman so good, besides his unwavering belief that he’s a hybrid of Sanders and Mr. T in “Rocky III,” are his instincts, length and consistency. He led the NFL with eight interceptions and was seldom targeted in the NFC championship game. But his braggadocio, at a position where confidence isn’t optional, is his fuel. The great ones are fueled by confidence. No, we won’t see Peyton Manning screaming into the camera lens with his syrupy accent: “I’m the best quarterback in the game! And when you try me with a sorry defensive back like Devin McCourty, that’s the result you’re going to get!”
Ron Wolf and Charley Armey, a pair of Super Bowl-winning general managers in the 1990s, both favored Seattle in interviews shortly after the Seahawks defeated San Francisco, 23-17, in the NFC Championship Game. …
(Wolf said:) “I’m rooting for John Schneider. I also worked with Pete Carroll with the Jets. I’m taking them to win the game because I’m a fan now.”
If anyone can lure (Peyton) Manning into his few moments of weakness, it is the Seahawks. Manning has been human this year when facing third down and six or more yards to go, completing just 56.3 percent of his passes and garnering a 82.5 QB rating. Seattle, with a stingy run defense (3.9 yards per carry) and a fleet of pass rushers led by Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, can put Manning in those situations and then pressure him.
When the NFL made its great leap of faith four years ago and awarded Super Bowl XLVIII to New York, the dream of many was to see the Giants or the Jets playing for a championship at home. Instead, the host committee got something even better.
What they got is the best Super Bowl matchup the NFL has seen in years.
The league’s top-ranked defense this season will face its leading offense when the Seahawks square off with quarterback Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Feb. 2 in the sport’s first New York-area Super Bowl. The stage couldn’t be any bigger, and the pairing of teams couldn’t be much more attractive.
Great defense against great offense. The best quarterback season of all time against a secondary that has made a name for itself—one that lets you know all about how good it is, thanks to Richard Sherman’s brashness—shutting the passing game down in a quarterback-friendly era.