Super Bowl XLVIII Preview
23:30 – MetLife Stadium, New Jersey
Following on from Mike’s thoughts on how the Broncos will fair later today, we bring you his report on the Seahawks.
The ‘Legion of Boom’ are on tour to New Jersey, and they’ve got their eyes on something shiny and football-shaped to take home with them. Richard Sherman and co. aren’t afraid to tell you that they are the best defence in the NFL, capable of shutting down any opponent, but now is their chance to prove that they really are the best. If they can do it, they could well go down as one of the most dominant defensive units to win the Super Bowl, especially if they can limit Peyton Manning to scraps.
There’s nothing new I can tell you about this unit, we all know they’re fast, relentless, aggressive and strong; and the Broncos will have to use each and every one of their weapons to try and pick the complex lock that is the Seattle defence.
It is the Seahawks’ offense that needs to step up and make sure the defence’s efforts aren’t in vain. Russell Wilson has had a good season with some receivers that arguably wouldn’t be starting on other rosters in the league, and although his scrambling is a real threat to any team, he needs to step up his game in the bread and butter of making passes when he needs to. If he can complete 70% of his passes downfield, the Seahawks will have a huge chance as for Seattle, their passing game opens up the ground game and not the other way around.
Most teams know that they have to do everything to stack the box and stop Marshawn Lynch, so in order to give their main man some room in the middle, (not that he really needs any) Wilson has to try and make sure that the defence drops some linebackers into coverage. Lynch has shown that given space, he can grind teams into the dirt, and I have a feeling that double teaming Denver’s colossal DT Terrance Knighton and running through the ‘A gap’ will be a big part of the Seahawks’ game plan: so, as a result, will be Wilson’s ability to keep the secondary and LB’s honest in resecting the pass.
In order to win this, the Hawks have to do what they were built to do: shut down a high-powered offense. This is going to be the ultimate test of what Pete Carroll has tried to do with this programme and it may not be as easy as people think away from their home and many of the 12’s who have done them proud all season. But have no doubt that they will bring the intensity and speed we have seen all year. Russell Wilson has a big opportunity to grab the MVP with a good performance, and that includes being accurate, taking care of the football and using his legs to pick up vital first downs. If Marshawn Lynch runs for 100 yards, it’s likely that Seattle will control the clock and keep the ball away from Manning long enough to outscore the Broncos, so Wilson’s ‘decoy’ part in this game is huge.
Be sure to check back at 4pm today when Mike brings you his final verdict as to who will win the Lombardi Trophy.