Two writers super sure their team will win
February 2, 2014
What’s at stake
Aspen Times reporter Mike McLaughlin and Post Independent sports editor Jon Mitchell have made a bet for Super Bowl XLVIII. Just for some background, McLaughlin is originally from Seattle, and Mitchell was born and raised in Colorado Springs.
If the Seahawks win, Mitchell will don Seahawks garb at the roundabout entering Aspen the morning of Feb. 3, holding up a sign that says something to dog the team he grew up rooting for. If the Broncos win, McLaughlin will be seen the morning of Feb. 3 waving to people driving on Grand Avenue in Glenwood Springs, holding up a sign that says something embarrassing about his beloved Hawks.
Oh, and and loser buys the winner lunch. It just won’t be some place expensive. They’re journalists, after all.
Why Seattle will win
The Seattle Seahawks will win Super Bowl XLVIII.
I’ve been saying that since Jan. 13, 2013, after the wild-card Seahawks lost to the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons with 13 seconds remaining in the game when Matt Bryant connected on a 49-yard field goal.
I doubt anyone in Colorado remembers, but Bryant missed that field goal on his first try, but Seattle called the obligatory ice-the-kicker-with-a-silly-timeout right before Bryant missed, giving the veteran kicker another attempt, which he nailed for the 30-28 win.
The Legion of Boom has been on a mission since that heartbreaking loss to Atlanta, unleashing the best defense in the NFL for 2013. The only game the defense didn’t dominate in ridiculous fashion was a 34-28 loss to Indianapolis on Oct. 6. In fact, in 18 regular-season and playoff games, only three teams have scored more than 20 points against Seattle, and only Indy topped 30 points.
The only other Super Bowl where the No. 1 offense met the No. 1 defense was in 2003 when Tampa Bay, with the top defense, met Oakland’s top-ranked offense. The Buccaneers crushed Oakland, 48-21, behind three interceptions returned for touchdowns.
By the way, you Denver fans should thank Andrew Luck for coming out of Stanford when he did. Having the top draft pick allowed the Colts to take Luck and let Peyton Manning try his hand at free agency. Pretty Luck-y for Broncos fans in many ways.
Speaking of Manning, he’s the best quarterback I’ve ever seen play in the NFL. There may be quarterbacks with stronger arms and quarterbacks who can run circles around No. 18, but there isn’t another signal caller who, given time, can tear apart a defensive coverage like Manning can, especially zone coverage.
Thank goodness Seattle plays more man-to-man defense than any other NFL team, and that’s going to be a huge factor today. It takes a fraction longer to read man defenses as compared with zone. Once Manning sees a zone defense, he usually knows where he’s going to throw the ball before the snap.
You Denver fans already know what happens when Manning has time to dissect a defense — Denver wins. You also know what happens when a defense hurries Manning — he becomes only semi-superhuman.
Seattle will find ways to pressure Manning, and they’ll do to Denver what they did to just about every team they played this year — they’ll grind, pound and beat up Denver and win ugly. Maybe even damn ugly as they get their thug on at the Super Bowl.
The 12th man? They’ll make their presence known in New Jersey, and Skittles will rain down as Marshawn Lynch goes Beast Mode all over the orange and blue. Seahawks 27, Denver 20. Go Hawks!
— Michael McLaughlin, The Aspen Times
Why Denver will win
So much for impartiality.
The Denver Broncos have been a favorite for many to win this year’s Super Bowl almost from the beginning of the season. They’ve been a favorite of mine since my age was in single digits, but they weren’t my favorite to win the big game in New Jersey in the middle of this season.
Denver had a swiss-cheese defensive secondary, and Peyton Manning had a label of not being able to play well in the cold. And the Broncos’ defensive line, to quote Richard Sherman’s assessment of Michael Crabtree, was “MEDIOCRE.”
It’s pretty simple, really. No football team, no matter how good the game plan or offense is, can go into a game feeling like it has to score no fewer than five touchdowns to win. Denver’s 51-48 victory over Dallas on Oct. 6 — a game where the final point total nearly reached the century mark — was a pretty good example of that. A championship team that scores 51 points in a game should have unloaded its bench at halftime instead of trying to keep its opponent out of field goal range.
Suffice to say, the Broncos’ record-breaking offense made them a victim of their own success.
Denver’s offense this season practically scored at will. Manning will have more than 60 — 60! — touchdown passes by the time today’s game ends. To top it off, five different players on Denver’s roster have scored 10 or more touchdowns. The problem with that, however, is that many of them were scored after the Broncos flew down the field to the end zone in 3 minutes or less.
Thanks to that, though, Denver’s defense ended up being on the field twice as long as it needed to be, thereby leaving more time for its opponents’ offenses to score. And they did. A lot. Only 10 other teams in the NFL gave up more than the 399 points the Broncos relinquished, and all but one of them — save the Green Bay Packers — missed the postseason.
But during the postseason, Denver’s offense helped its defense get better. The Broncos went from being the “Hurry! Hurry!” offense it was to being the methodical, no-huddle threat it’s been in the playoffs. Touchdown drives are lasting 8 minutes instead of 3, and thanks in part to that, Denver is allowing 16.5 points per game in the postseason as opposed to the 25 it allowed during the regular season.
This postseason stretch proves two things. First, it proves that Denver’s offense is diverse enough to score at will, meaning not only can it score on time-consuming drives, but 2-minute scoring marches shouldn’t be a problem, either. Second, Denver’s defense has improved remarkably, and it seems to be peaking at the right time.
And it will peak today. Final score: Denver 27, Seattle 17.
— Jon Mitchell, Glenwood Springs Post Independent