Super Bowl XLVIII is quickly approaching (or not so quickly, if you’re sick of all of the pre-game hype), so its time for me to weigh in with my own semi-informed analysis. Those NFL fans who know me well actually care about this, because my track record for predicting Super Bowl outcomes is quite good. I’ve picked 12 of the last 15 Super Bowls correctly. So, let’s see if I can go 13 for 16.
Denver is a slight favorite in the game, but most of the pundits I have heard seem to be taking the Seahawks. It’s the whole “good defense beats good offense” dogma, which fails in this case for several reasons, as I will explain. I’m calling for a Broncos win, hopefully (as ever), in overtime. I’ve been rooting for an overtime Super Bowl game since 1970. Perhaps this year will be the year. Anyway, here’s why I’m picking the Broncos:
- The Denver offense is not just any good offense. They’re historically great, led by the greatest NFL QB ever at the top of his game. Not only that, Peyton Manning is wiser than ever. He’s experienced two Super Bowls and knows, far better than his counter-part Russell Wilson, how to effectively prepare. Wilson might be ready on Sunday, but Peyton Manning will be readier.
- The Denver defense is playing well. Not so much during the regular season, but definitely so far in the playoffs. They shut down the run against both the Chargers and Pats (60 yards each). They’ll key on Seattle’s run game and contain it (yes, even the “Beast Mode” Marshawn Lynch) and thus force them to pass, which won’t be easy considering what they did to pressure Brady last week. The Broncos defense could be the story of SB48. They’re under the radar now, but might not be for long.
- The Seattle offense will only be as strong as Russell Wilson. But can the 25-year-old Super Bowl virgin stand up under the pressure? Several others have won Super Bowls at that age (Montana, Brady, Roethlisberger, and Namath), but only because of the strength of their defenses (their teams scored an average of just 19 points). Most have failed (e.g., Marino, Bledsoe, Kaepernick, etc.). But, again, the key will be the Denver defense. If they can rattle Wilson early, it could get ugly. That would be a recipe for a Broncos route.
- The distraction factor: This definitely favors Denver because of the fallout over the Sherman debacle. Don’t underestimate the negative effect this can have on the entire Seahawks team. Such constant media pressure wears on even the most sturdy veterans. And Marshawn Lynch’s games with the media (refusing to answer questions) is a further distraction.
- Seattle nearly (probably should have) lost in the NFC championship game at home. That tells me that the Niners would have won at home or even on a neutral field. So the Broncos are not playing the NFC’s best. This point is consistently overlooked or ignored by sports commentators (no doubt because it would detract from the drama of the game narrative). The media often obscures truth, in sports as much as in politics. It’s just less exasperating when mere sporting events (rather than human lives) are at stake. But I digress.
- The team leadership factor: Give the edge to Denver here as well, because of Manning and Champ Bailey.
- Coaching: Probably a draw. But Fox is a steadier, more even-keeled coach than Carroll, which might work in Denver’s favor. As Terry Bradshaw says, you need to be cool-headed going into the SB. That’s exactly what Carroll and his team will not be two days from now.
Final Score: Denver 27 Seattle 24 (in overtime, hopefully)