The vast majority of the country is undecided on who will win the Super Bowl. Experts and official spreads also hint at a close game with the winner going either way. I am here to tell you that will not be the case come Sunday night in New York. The Broncos will, like they have for most of the year, run away with this game. This is evident by analyzing and comparing all three aspects of both teams where the overall advantage clearly is on the Broncos side.
Edge Range: Even- Slight- Moderate- Big
Line – Moderate Edge: Broncos
Broncos have battled through injuries on their offensive line since the start of the season. The LT, and C position were question marks after Ryan Clady and Dan Koppen went down with injuries. However, Chris Clark and Manny Ramirez have stepped in and become some of the best at their position in the game. Overall the Broncos O line has become the best in the NFL allowing the fewest sacks of all teams.
The Seahawks’ offensive line has the talent but have disappointed for most of the year. Many times Russell Wilson has to run out of the pocket because of failed protection. Injuries have also taken a toll, especially early in the season when they struggled mightily. They have got better as the year went on. Consider this group “average- below average” as they have struggled keeping Russell Wilson on his feet.
Wide Receivers- Big Edge: Broncos
Broncos have arguably 3 number 1 WRs and a top 3 TE on their team in Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Julius Thomas. Everyone knows the matchup problems they create week in and out. Together, they are easily the deadliest combination in the NFL.
Seahawk receivers have been battling injury issues this year with Harvin and Rice. This is no surprise as both of these receivers have had injury issues their whole careers. Seahawks have wasted a bunch of money for virtually zero production from both these receivers. This left them with Kearse, Baldwin, and Tate. All these guys are very inconsistent and at most average receivers. As a group they are this team’s weak-link.
Quarterback- Big Edge: Broncos
Peyton Manning set yardage and touchdown records this year and has never been better. It’s been written and rewritten multiple times; he is way above the rest right now.
Russell Wilson, in my opinion is the most overrated player in the NFL. You would think I’m crazy after this player has posted 52 touchdown passes in his first two seasons. But the truth is he has a long way to go before he’s considered a quality NFL QB. Wilson struggles staying in the pocket and feels more comfortable outside where he has made most of his plays. He is also a one-read quarterback who struggles against zone coverage. He often relies on man to man coverage and one of his receivers breaking through in the secondary. Teams have started to pick up on his tendencies and have exposed his weaknesses which explain his rough half of the season and postseason.
Secondary- Big Edge: Seahawks
Seahawks have arguably one of the best NFL secondary this league has seen. Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman highlight this backfield and have helped stifle opposing teams passing game. They allow 172 yards per game, which easily tops any other team in the NFL.
This matchup would definitely be a lot closer if not for the injuries the Broncos secondary has endured this year. Champ Bailey, Kayvon Webster, Chris Harris and Rahim Moore have all dealt with serious injuries. They are now only left with a finally healthy and effective Champ Bailey, Dominique Rodgers Cromartie (Pro Bowl Snub), Mike Adams, and rookie Duke Ihenacho. This group still should not be overlooked, especially after keeping Tom Brady and company in check last week.
Line/Linebackers- Edge: Even
You would expect more from this unit when looking at the Seahawk players’ salaries. Their D-line and linebacker unit has been solid for the most part but they should be excellent based off the pay of the line. Instead, led by Cliff Avril, they have become only tied at 7th best at stopping the run and 9th best at rushing the passer. This unit should be tops in the NFL considering the amount of time they have to get to the quarterback as a result from outstanding coverage in the secondary.
The Broncos get the same production despite having fewer big names on their active roster. The emergence of Terrance Knighton has sparked this team’s rush defense. Who did the Seahawks expensive line tie with in rush defense? The Broncos, a team without two of their best rush defenders in Kevin Vickerson and Von Miller. Miller’s absence has not stopped the Broncos from getting to the quarterback. Led by under the radar acquisition Shaun Philips, the Broncos and Jack Del Rio have found a way to still get this unit to 47 overall sacks this year and postseason, also tying them with the Seahawks.
Slight Edge – Seahawks
The stats, the playmaking of Golden Tate, and the team’s solid coverage point to the Seahawks easily winning this battle which would mean more than just a slight edge. However, one must look at the kicking elements before really making an accurate decision for the game in New York. The Broncos do not have as much return yardage as the Seahawks. The reason? Altitude. With the relatively new kickoff rule and the high altitude in Denver, the Broncos get very few quality kickoff opportunities which brings their return yardage down. You may be thinking that the Broncos have the same advantage on the other end of special teams. Matt Prater, however, kicks it far or out of the end zone anywhere he goes; he has the strongest leg in the league. Look for the Broncos to showcase their special teams more in New York with Trindon Holliday, one of the more dynamic returners in the game. He had 6 special teams touchdowns last season (including postseason).