It's a melancholy football Sunday ahead: the pinnacle of gridiron greatness exhibited in New Jersey but an air of sadness for the season that has been.
There isn't much to say about the Denver-Seattle matchup that hasn't already been overridden by pundits. It's a strength on strength matchup, obviously, as these teams field the best respective units in the league in their phase. Peyton Manning is playing for his "legacy" (whatever that means). The very loosely defined cold weather will factor into Adam Gase's play calling because of the media-perpetuated narrative of Manning's insatiable struggles in the cold.
This game will ultimately come down to efficiency in all three phases of the game. With these two teams there really isn't much room for sloppy drives and there won't be many handouts. While Marshawn Lynch gets the vast majority of media attention, Brian Burke's numbers have Knowshon Moreno as the second best halfback in football. Moreno (and to a lesser extent Montee Ball) is a key semblance of balance to the Bronco offense that seems to have so many threats wherever you look on the field. It will be huge for Seattle to play functional run defense out of their nickel and dime packages as Moreno can really hurt Seattle if they drop too many into coverage. And like anything else against Peyton, the above ideal is in a very delicate dance with ensuring you cover the seemingly limitless receiving threats of the Broncos.
In the truest sense, Russell Wilson is a good old fashioned game manager. The second year product rarely turns the ball over, and is very accurate. A SiriusXM football analyst noted the other day what I found to be an excellent point- Wilson is very reluctant to force balls that he is not highly confident he can complete them. Even on relatively open patterns, he will sometimes take the sack if he feels some pressure in the pocket or finds it collapsing. His athleticism is a highly underrated component of Seattle's rushing attack, and not primarily because of his escapability. Wilson runs the read option about as well as any quarterback in football. He executes the quarter/half back exchange and has pristine timing on pulling the ball out of the back's gut. Look for Seattle to try to create off of run action.
There's no question this Super Bowl will be incredibly well-played and the NFL will put forth a great on-field product on Sunday on the national stage.
Hopefully they bring a little taste in the dress code for the halftime show.
One can only hope.
Denver 24 Seattle 17
It's oh-so difficult to bet against Peyton despite Seattle's otherworldly defense.