The Super Bowl clash between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks is also a contrast of styles: The best offense in the NFL who go wherever their hall of fame quarterback, Peyton Manning, takes them, and a team that’s a lot more smash mouth in orientation: Running the ball and having the best defense in the league.
The fact that Peyton Manning is the only player on the field with a Super Bowl ring or Super Bowl experience might come in handy, but the Seahawks aren’t like the Chicago Bears of the 2006 season which had zero confidence in their offense and relied completely on their defense getting stops, creating shot field situations and their special teams ability.
The advantage offensively? Clearly it goes the Broncos way. The numbers are hard to argue with; the Broncos led the NFL with 457.3 yards per game and scoring 37.9 points each contest. Peyton Manning has been great in the postseason as well with 630 yards, 4 touchdowns and an interception. He is averaging 7.98 yards per play and has a 107 passer rating. In comparison, the Seahawks haven’t seen too much from Russell Wilson, with only 318 passing yards. However, he does average 7.4 yards per play and has yet to throw an interception, posting a 89.1 passer rating in the games against the Saints and 49ers.
But it’s more than the numbers. The Broncos rely on Manning to read the defense and make the decision, along with Adam Gase speaking in his ear and suggesting plays to him. The key for this offense is not making any negative plays: finding favorable one-on-one matchups against a single safety high coverage or looking to take advantage of crossing routes to exploit man coverage against 2 deep safeties.
The Seahawks are a defense that love putting pressure on a quarterback with Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett helping that aspect a lot this season, which shortens the time for quarterbacks to guess what their defensive backs are doing. Narrowing the window and time Manning has to read what’s in front of him is crucial, because that’s something the Patriots failed to do, managing to rush and hurry Manning only three times during the AFC Championship Game.
The Broncos don’t have a renowned defense, especially with their best pass rusher out (Von Miller) and their best cover man, Chris Davis, also not playing. The idea here is to not let the big play happen and buckle down in the red zone.
What do the Seahawks have to offer on offense? It’s mostly about Wilson managing to improvise like his huge 51-yard pass to Dough Baldwin while scrambling. Marshawn Lynch is a workhorse and most of the load is on him, but Wilson being able to remain calm under pressure and get over mistakes like an early fumble are crucial to a team that doesn’t want to play from behind for a second straight game.
Shaun Philips wasn’t supposed to be a key factor for the Broncos this season, but if he’s able to be the pass-rusher that stops Wilson from escaping the pocket, he’ll more than have earned his paycheck. The Seahawks are hoping that Percy Harvin can play, because he gives the Seahawks a vertical threat they struggle in creating most of the time. Roughing him up, like the Saints did in the Divisional playoffs, or like the Broncos did to Talib through Welker, is going to be another key in this game, if he actually plays.