Earlier on today Mike gave us his run down on both the Broncos and Seahawks and gave us some thought on what each team needs to do to win the big game in a few hours time.
Now he gives you his final verdict as to who will win and why.
It’s going to be intense out there, and I think it could end up being an extremely tight 60 minutes of football in New Jersey. Surprisingly, the Denver defence could end up being more important to their chances of success than their offense, as stopping Marshawn Lynch is imperative.
Terrance Knighton is a star in the making and if he and the rest of the front seven can have another monster game, his place among the league’s best may well be cemented with a ring. Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ offense, even against a defence as strong as Seattle’s, should be able to score 20 points, giving his defence a chance to keep up its recent good work. Expect a fairly heavy workload for the two running backs, both on the ground and on screen passes and short, quick routes over the middle: this will be the best way for Manning to shake off some pressure. No, he does not have ‘happy feet’, he’ll just have to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible.
As for the Seahawks, if they play to the best of their ability, I think they can provide the Broncos with their nightmare matchup. A tough pass D with some great pass rush and an offense with a mobile QB and some big play ability: Percy Harvin, if healthy, could provide a huge x-factor in this one. RB Lynch has been Seattle’s best player on offense, and if he can get his wheels churning, it will be difficult for the Broncos to exert any degree of control on the game. The matchup between Richard Sherman and Demayrius Thomas is going to be fun to watch after all of the jawing that’s been going on in the run up to the game, while Bobby Wagner trying to take Julius Thomas’ head off over the middle will be a spectacle too. The Hawks will play violent come Sunday, and it’ll be up to the Broncos’ mental toughness, and of course the tolerance of the refereeing crew, to hold out.
The main thing I’m looking at here is that Seattle won’t change the way they play for Denver, but the Broncos will try to add new wrinkles and new variations to their gameplan to find a way through this wall of a defense. While this isn’t anything particularly new or worrying for Peyton Manning, as someone who is infamous for his meticulous planning and time-consuming tape-watching, it just means that they have less time to master the smaller things in the playbook. It’s going to be tight, make no mistake, but the Seahawks have been working on the same things all year: being tough to beat, opportunistic and intimidating, as if they knew it would come down to this exact matchup: they’ve been designed to win this.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 23-20 DENVER BRONCOS