Commentary: Manning, Broncos Have Super Edge
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Jan 27, 2014, 08:01
In a little less than a week, Super Bowl XLVIII will take place at Metlife Stadium in an outdoor, cold-weather venue for the first time in National Football League history. While much of the focus has been on the weather forecast and how it will affect the contest or if it is good for the game, there is one aspect being overlooked.
For the first time in recent memory, the Super Bowl participants are arguably the two best teams in the NFL. In the advent of the Wild Card rounds and automatic qualifiers, it’s been easier for mediocre teams to reach the postseason, making marquee match-ups rare to come by.
Back in 2008, the 8-8 Arizona Cardinals won a weak NFC West Division and parlayed the automatic postseason berth into a Super Bowl appearance. But they are not the only team to take advantage of the current system.
The New York Giants captured two Super Bowl titles, winning four consecutive road games both in 2007 and 2010 after earning Wild Card berths. Both times, the Giants were given little to no chance, but in a playoff format as unforgiving as the NFL operates under, they proved anything could happen.
It’s why fans should look toward Sunday’s game and appreciate what it represents.
The AFC Champion Denver Broncos were predicted by many media outlets to reach the Super Bowl prior to the season’s opening kick-off and they did not disappoint. The Broncos had one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history, averaging 37.1 points and 457.3 total yards per game — both ranked No. 1 in the league.
However, behind quarterback Peyton Manning, Denver also averaged 340 passing yard per contest — also a No. 1 ranking. Yet, Manning did not rest there.
The 14-year veteran took down two iconic offensive records during his 2013 season. Manning set the single-season record of touchdowns in a season, tossing 55 while also throwing for 5,477 yards, breaking Drew Brees’ previous record by just one yard.
Meanwhile, the Seattle Seahawks were also among the teams picked to contend for a title this season. Just one year after going 11-5 and earning their first road playoff victory in nearly 30 years, Pete Carroll’s squad upped the ante even more in the 2013-14 campaign.
Seattle compiled a 13-3 record to claim the NFC West crown and the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC, losing just one game at home all season. Carroll’s bunch is not as prolific offensively as their opponent from Denver, averaging just 26.1 points per game, but they make up for it with their defensive tenacity.
The Seahawks’ secondary racked up 28 interceptions with eight of them coming via the hands of cornerback Richard Sherman. However, Seattle’s defensive backs are helped out by a defensive line which held opponents to just 3.9 yards per rush and recorded 44 sacks.
So who has the advantage in the Super Bowl match-up? Is it Denver’s offense or Seattle’s defense?
Well, Manning’s playoff failures have been talked about much during the course of his career — just an 11-11 record — while Russell Wilson has just four games of playoff experience. While Seattle has the look of a team ready to start a dynasty with a young core group of players including one of the best running backs in the game in Marshawn Lynch, the Broncos have the advantage with the man under center.
Manning has vanquished postseason foes in the Chargers and out-smarted Bill Belichick already during this playoff run. Manning runs the entire the offense to his likening with the ability to call plays from the line of scrimmage.
It’s hard to bet against one of, if not the best quarterback in history.
For this reason, Manning is likely to be the first quarterback in NFL history to both start and win a Super Bowl with two different teams, solidifying his position as one of the greatest players in NFL history while bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Denver for the first time since 1998.