A very, very difficult call… And the way to make it is to look to something beyond statistics and the quantitative and more at the qualitative.
First thought was to opt in favor of Peyton Manning against the Seattle Seahawks defense on a neutral field. The Seahawks’ defense, while the NFL’s best, didn’t appear up to the task of defeating Manning’s Denver Broncos with 11 men, which is what they’ll be required to do without the 12th Man advantage that Seattle enjoys in CenturyLink Field.
But the growing sense through the week is that the Seahawks are more than simply happy to be in the Super Bowl, which is a mindset that has undone more than one team advancing to this point.
They have their own “legacy” at issue, and it is difficult not to believe that Richard Sherman has pointed for this moment his entire life.
“It’s not something you consciously think about going into a game like this,” Sherman said. “It’s one of those things that after it’s all said and done, once all the chips have fallen, then maybe we will think about what this game meant to our legacy or what this game meant to [Manning’s] legacy or this, that and the other. But I don’t think, going into the game, it’s something that we consciously think about.”
If there is a single numbers worry point it is whether Russell Wilson is overwhelmed by the occasion. Turnovers decide games, particularly late turnovers, and Wilson makes them at nearly twice the rate of Manning.
Manning has a fourth-quarter passer rating of 112.7 (just below Josh McCown and a little ahead of Jay Cutler). He has thrown 14 fourth-quarter touchdowns vs. five interceptions. That is based on 138 pass attempts.
Wilson is a respectable fourth-quarter quarterback but with only seven touchdowns opposite five interceptions – those on just 73 pass attempts. The Seattle goal will be to not have the game turning on Wilson’s hands but more on Marshawn Lynch’s.
[WATCH: Can the Broncos stop Marshawn Lynch?]
No. 1 defenses typically win Super Bowls (12-3 according to information from FOX Sports 1. That is what this analyst believes will hold true this year. But not by much.
Seattle: 23, Denver: 20