Largely because of Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, the Broncos have been installed as three-point favorites over the Seahawks in Super Bowl XVIII Sunday.
GAME: #1 Denver Broncos (13-3, 1st AFC West) vs. #1 Seattle Seahawks (13-3, 1st, NFC West). TYPE. Super Bowl. WHEN: Sunday, 3:30 p.m., MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ. MEETING: 54th (Denver leads 34-19). STREAKS: Broncos W 4; Seahawks W 3. HEAD COACHES: John Fox, Denver; Pete Carroll, Seattle. LINE: Broncos by 3. TV: FOX. RADIO: ESPN 710 AM, KIRO 97.3 FM.
It’s difficult to imagine a more compelling Super Bowl matchup than the Seahawks vs. the Broncos. It marks the first time since the New York Giants defeated Buffalo 20-19 following the 1990 season that the NFL’s top-ranked offense (Denver) will face the top-ranked defense (Seattle) and only the second time in 20 years that a pair of No. 1 seeds will battle for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Oddsmakers have installed the AFC champion Broncos as a three-point favorite largely, if not exclusively, because of Peyton Manning, coming off a regular season in which he became the first quarterback in history to exceed 5,000 yards passing (5,477) and 50 touchdowns (55).
“To have the kind of season he’s had to this point, I think is unprecedented,” said Broncos coach John Fox, the sixth head man in league history to take two different teams to the Super Bowl (Carolina, 2003).
“Peyton’s been extraordinary,” added Seattle’s Pete Carroll, who can join Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson as the only men to win a national collegiate championship and a Super Bowl. “People couldn’t even dream to have the year that Peyton’s had with all the numbers he’s put up. We’re up against it.”
Manning’s Broncos averaged 37.9 points per game and will face a Seahawk defense that allowed a league-best 14.4. In the six Super Bowls that matched the No. 1 offense vs. the No. 1 defense, the defense prevailed five times. But it’s safe to say none of those defenses faced a quarterback with Manning’s extraordinary skill.
“What he does is just fabulous,” said Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
Manning is not only accurate, he spreads the ball around. Ten Broncos caught passes this season and eight scored touchdowns, led by Demaryius Thomas’s 14, Julius Thomas’s 12 and Erick Decker’s 11. Manning is also difficult to sack — 18 times to Russell Wilson’s 44 — because he gets rid of the ball so quickly. Manning took a league-shortest 2.36 seconds to throw the ball vs. Wilson’s league-longest 3.18.
“Manning does do a good job at getting rid of the ball fast,” said safety Earl Thomas. “They run a lot of timing routes so it is kind of hard to get the pressure on him, but our defensive line does a great job and they’re dogs up front, savages, and I think they will get to him.
“With Manning, it’s best to just line up and do what you do,” said Thomas. “You can’t be a genie and think what he’s thinking. Obviously, you don’t know what’s coming. That’s why you just be ready for anything.”
While Manning will be gunning for his second Vince Lombardi Trophy (he won with Indianapolis in 2006), the Seahawks are the first team since the 1990 Bills to not have a player with Super Bowl experience on their roster.
But led by the “Legion of Boom,” the Seahawks topped the NFL in fewest yards allowed, forced a league-high 39 turnovers and ranked eighth in sacks with 44.
“They are as good as advertised,” Manning said after watching the Seahawks on film. “Probably one of the more impressive things is how they play together as a unit.”
Seattle will have an edge if it can unleash Marshawn Lynch and reduce Manning’s opportunities. WR Percy Harvin, injured much of the year, will be a wild card for the Seahawks, who will probably try to take advantage of Denver’s weakest unit, its secondary.
“Obviously, he’s a deep threat and if they throw him a quick screen, he makes one guy miss and he’s out,” Thomas said of Harvin. “You see him in that one game he had against Minnesota, you see how much he brought everybody up to their feet. He can just energize the whole stadium. I know it gives me a lift when you see a guy that explosive. He plays faster than everybody out there. It’s fun to watch.”
Another thing to watch: The Seahawks largely avoided running the read option this season because, for the most part, they didn’t need it. It would not be a surprise to see the Seahawks use it against Denver.
Seattle and Denver faced five common opponents this season: New York Giants, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Houston and Tennessee. Denver went 4-1 against the five, as did the Seahawks. Both clubs lost to Indianapolis, Denver by six points (39-33), Seattle by six (34-28). Denver outscored the five 197-122, Seattle outscored the five 139-84.
SERIES: Dates to Oct. 2, 1977, when the Broncos winning 24-13 in the Kingdome. Craig Morton threw for 181 yards and a touchdown for Denver and running back David Sims threw a 43-yard TD pass to Steve Largent for Seattle. Seahawks and Broncos last met Sept. 19, 2010, Denver winning 31-14 as Kyle Orton threw two touchdown passes. Matt Hasselbeck tossed an 11-yard TD to Ben Obomanu and ran 20 yards for another score.
Seahawks (regular season): Scored 417 points (26.1 per game), ranking 8th; allowed 231 points (14.4 per game),1st; differential of +186 points ranks 2nd. Broncos: Scored 606 points (37.9), ranked 1st; allowed 399 (24.9), 22nd; differential of +207 points ranks 1st.
SEAHAWKS HEAD COACH: Pete Carroll (72-57 career, 39-26 Seattle) is in his fourth season. In 2010, he directed Seattle to the NFC West title, the Seahawks becoming the first team in NFL history to win a division with a losing (7-9) record. Prior to joining the Seahawks, Carroll served as head coach at Southern California, where his Trojans won seven Pac-10 titles and two national championships.
SEAHAWKS QUARTERBACKS: During the regular season, Russell Wilson completed 257 of 407 passes for 3,357 yards, 26 TDs and 9 interceptions for a passer rating of 101.2. In Seattle’s playoff win over New Orleans, he was 9 of 18 for 103 yards, no TDs and no INTs. He threw for 215 yards, 1 TD and no INTs in the NFC title-game win over San Francisco. His game-by-game lines:
Tarvaris Jackson vs. Jacksonville, 7 of 8, 129 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 158.3 rating; at Indianapolis, no statistics; vs. Minnesota, 1 of 3, 6 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 42.4 rating; at NY Giants, 2 of 2, 16 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 100.0 rating.
SEAHAWKS STATS / NOTES
SEAHAWKS 2013 OFFENSIVE LEADERS
SEAHAWKS 2013 DEFENSIVE LEADERS
|Tackles||Wagner 119, Thomas 100, Chancellor 93|
|Sacks||Bennett 8.5, Avril 8.0, McDonald 5.5|
|Quarterback Hits||Bennett 25, Averill 14, McDonald 13|
|Interceptions||Sherman 8, Thomas 5, Maxwell 4|
|Passes Defensed||Sherman 19, Maxwell 12, Browner 10|
|Forced Fumbles||Avril 5, Thomas 2|
|Fumbles Recovered||Chancellor, Mebane, McDaniel, Wright 1|
BRONCOS NOTES: In the regular season, defeated Baltimore (49-27), New York Giants (41-23), Oakland (37-21, 34-14), Philadelphia (52-20), Dallas (51-48), Jacksonville (35-19), Washington (45-21), San Diego (28-20), Kansas City (27-17, 35-28), Tennessee (51-28) and Houston (37-13), and lost to Indianapolis (39-33), New England (34-31) and San Diego (27-20). In the postseason, defeated San Diego (24-17) and New England (26-16) . . . Denver ranks 1st in scoring offense (37.9), 15th in rushing (117.1), 1st in passing (340.3), 22nd in scoring defense (24.9), 19th in total defense (356.0), T7 in rushing defense (101.6), 27th in pass defense (254.4) and T14 in turnover differential (0) . . . Knowshon Moreno led the Broncos in rushing with 1,038 yards and 10 TDs while Montee Ball had 559 yards and 4 TDs . . . Denver features two 1,000-yard receivers in Demaryius Thomas (1,430 yards, 14 TDs) and Eric Decker (1,288 yards, 11 TDs). Wes Welker caught 73 passes and scored 10 TDs.
BRONCOS QUARTERBACKS: Peyton Manning completed 450 of 659 passes for 5,477 yards, 55 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a passer rating of 115.1. He produced four, 400-yard games and eight others above 300 yards. Manning threw seven touchdown passes against the Baltimore Ravens, five against Kansas City and four in a game seven times.
2013-14 KEY DATES: Feb. 2, 2014 — Super Bowl XLVIII, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ.; Feb. 18-25, 2012 — Scouting combine, Indianapolis; March 11, 2014 — Free agency begins; May 8-10, 2014 — NFL draft.
NFC West Standings
|Seattle||13-3-0||3-3-0||Sun, vs. Denver|
|S. Francisco||12-4-0||5-1-0||Season Complete|
|St. Louis||7-9-0||1-5-0||Season Complete|
2013 Seahawks Preseason Schedule
|8/8/13||at San Diego||7 p.m.||NFLN||W||31-10||1-0|
|8/17/13||vs. Denver||7 p.m.||NFLN||W||40-10||2-0|
|8/23/13||at Green Bay||5 p.m.||CBS||W||17-10||3-0|
|8/29/13||vs. Oakland||7 p.m.||Fox||W||22-6||4-0|
2013 Seahawks Regular-Season Schedule
|9/8/13||at Carolina||10 a.m.||FOX||W||12-7||1-0|
|9/15/13||vs. SF||5:30 p.m.||NBC||W||29-3||2-0|
|9/22/13||vs. JAX||1:25 p.m.||CBS||W||45-17||3-0|
|9/29/13||at Texans||10 a.m.||FOX||W||23-20||4-0|
|10/6/13||at Indy||10 a.m.||FOX||L||34-28||4-1|
|10/13/13||vs. Tenn||1:05 p.m.||CBS||W||20-13||5-1|
|10/17/13||at Arizona||5:25 p.m.||NFLN||W||34-22||6-1|
|10/28/12||at StL||5:40 p.m.||ESPN||W||14-9||7-1|
|11/3/13||vs. Tampa||1:05 p.m.||FOX||W||27-24||8-1|
|11/10/13||at Atlanta||10 a.m.||FOX||W||33-10||9-1|
|11/17/13||vs. Minn||1:25 p.m.||FOX||W||41-20||10-1|
|12/2/13||VS. NO||5:40 p.m.||ESPN||W||34-7||11-1|
|12/8/12||at SF||1:25 p.m.||FOX||L||19-17||11-2|
|12/15/13||at NYG||10 a.m.||FOX||W||23-0||12-2|
|12/22/13||vs. Ariz||1:05 p.m.||FOX||L||17-10||12-3|
|12/29/13||vs. STL||1:25 p.m.||FOX||W||27-9||13-3|
|1/4/14||vs. NO||1:35 p.m.||FOX||W||23-15||14-3|
|1/19/14||vs. SF||3:35 p.m.||FOX||W||23-17||15-3|