It’s Super Bowl week and all of the talking heads are giving you every opinion and every sound bite you could possibly want about this Super Bowl so I won’t pretend to have any extra insight, but I’ll break down how I think this will shake out and why so that the tens of my readers will have another take on it all. But first I’ll touch on a couple of things that everyone has been talking about.
Richard Sherman – So what’s my take on Sherman’s post-game rant last game? Depends, do you want me to answer as an unbiased party or how I would if I were a fan? Because perspective is key in this one. If I’m a Seahawks fan, I don’t care one bit. I want my corners cocky with the ability to back it up (I grew up in the Deion Sanders era in Atlanta after all). I would understand being amped up after playing an entire game and the only play that you get to make is the biggest play of the game against a guy you genuinely don’t like. As long as he’s wearing my colors, I couldn’t care less. Now, as an outside party, I would say that it wasn’t very professional and not something that I would want to see regularly. That being said, if you don’t want to see that, then you HAVE to give guys a cooling off period before you interview them. It’s just like NASCAR drivers being interviewed right after someone wrecks them and then the sponsors expect him to not be fuming. It’s kind of ridiculous. I could go on, but as usual Joe Posnanski says it better so I’ll let you read that.
Marshawn Lynch – A decent bit has been made about Marshawn Lynch and his refusal or minimal compliance to do required interviews. Now, I get that if everyone does that then you make it terribly hard on reporters to do their jobs. But do they really need to talk to EVERYONE on the team? I don’t know, but I can seen the argument for not if someone really isn’t comfortable with it. Do you really care if you hear sound bites from your running back or do you care if he stiff-arms 3 defenders to the ground when he scores a touchdown? I’d rather he do the job he’s REALLY getting paid for. So let’s have some Skittles and move on.
Derrick Johnson v. Jamaal Charles – Now HERE’S a story worth talking about. In case you missed it, the Pro Bowl changed formats this year when it stopped going NFC v. AFC and instead had the players from both leagues get drafted onto two teams captained by Hall of Famers. The thought was that this way you would get a little more competitive edge to a normally tame exhibition. Based on the 1 point victory due to a 2 point conversion and double-digit turnovers, it seems like the league may have gotten their desired result. However, what some folks may not have anticipated was generating an awkward situation between teammates who all of a sudden are facing each other. When Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney got the chance to hit Peyton Manning in a live game after he left Indianapolis they both admitted that they relished the opportunity. Apparently Derrick Johnson has wanted to hit Jamaal Charles at full speed a lot in practice but hasn’t been allowed to, so when he saw the opportunity in the Pro Bowl he lit Charles up like a Christmas tree. This has caused a great deal of consternation in the Kansas City area. Do you want to run the risk of losing your franchise running back because your best linebacker really wants to hit him? Ummm… probably not. Sorry DJ, I’m going to have to side with Charles on this one. Tackle him…but don’t deep-six your playoff chances next year to feed your urges. (Note: Leave it to a couple of Longhorns to give Chiefs fans a collective myocardial infarction).
Just like last round we’ll do a breakdown of the key elements of each team and see who will come out on top.
Quarterbacks – Russell Wilson is a top notch QB that will be very good for years to come. He is a great leader. He fits this team. He’s dangerous on the move. He’s a quality person. He is not Peyton Manning. Peyton is in the argument for greatest of all time and he just put up his best season ever. In fact, this graphic from Bill Barnwell of Grantland.com kind of sums up all you need to know. Edge – Broncos
Running Backs – Adam Schefter of ESPN did a nice piece on the similarities between the two backs and the roads they’ve taken to this point. But when it comes down to it, the questions are, “If I need 1 yard, which back do I trust”? and “Which back can break a big run at a key time?”. Thinking of those two criteria I have to give the edge to Lynch. But before you make it a big edge, don’t forget that if the question is “Which QB would you trust to audible into the perfect play for his RB?” the answer is not Russell Wilson. Edge – Seahawks
Receiving Corps – Seriously? Thomas/Thomas/Welker/Decker. No further questions Your Honor. Edge – Broncos
Defenses – Seattle has the #1 defense in the NFL. Denver does not. Edge – Seahawks
Asthetics – While orange is my favorite color, both the color combination and the uniform design favors the boys from the pacific northwest. And don’t forget that the team wearing White in the Super Bowl has won 8 of the last 9 games. Edge – Seahawks
Coaching – This one is kind of hard to nail down for sure. Pete Carroll has done excellent things since he arrived in Seattle. His teams have a strong emotional component which can be good or bad depending on how this game starts. John Fox is a consistent presence that has the right assistants (Adam Gase/Jack Del Rio) in the right positions to help this team thrive. He also has a coach on the field which makes a difference. So this should probably be a push, but after Carroll actually weighed in on the NFL’s need for acceptance of medical weed I had to swing this one. Edge – Broncos
X-Factors to Watch (No Edge…just keys to the game):
- The Weather – Too cold and Manning could be impacted more.
- First Quarter – The longer Denver goes without a TD, the stronger the Seahawks’ chances are to ride the momentum/confidence.
- The Trenches – The Broncos’ ability to contain Lynch and get pressure on Wilson with their D-Tackles will be a huge indicator of how the game will go.
- Turnovers – Always…
- Business as Usual – The team that is able to treat this like any other game will likely have an edge. Based on the days leading up to the game so far it seems to favor Denver at this point.
First… sit back and enjoy. This should be a very good game. #1 offense vs. #1 defense on one side, and then their weaker units also pairing off fairly evenly on the other. The game should be good. As for my prediction? Well, whether I believe that Manning made a deal with the devil for this season, or that this is the best set of offensive weapons he’s ever had, or that his fourth neck surgery was to make him a cyborg you will just have to guess, but what I will say is that I just can’t bet against Peyton in this one. Even the best defense in the NFL will line up to stop something specific, and Manning always has an option to change to what they aren’t ready to stop. That flexibility and intelligence is the ultimate swing vote for me.