MDS already has clinched the postseason contest, after winning the regular-season version fairly easily.
But there’s still one game left, and we agreed on the outcome. With almost the exact same predicted score.So here it is, our respective takes and picks for the 48th Super Bowl, featuring the Broncos against the Seahawks.
MDS’s take: There are a lot of reasons to pick the Broncos. For starters, Peyton Manning is on the verge of completing the greatest year a football player has ever had. If Manning were to follow up his record-breaking regular season with a Super Bowl MVP, it would be not just his best year yet, but in my book the best year ever, for any NFL player. Sometimes you get a feeling that a player is just playing at a level that no one can touch.
There’s also the nagging feeling I have that Russell Wilson isn’t ready to have a huge game on a huge stage. Wilson is one of the brightest young players in the NFL, but he still has moments when he tries to do too much with his feet, and moments when he fails to make the throws the Seahawks need him to make. He hasn’t been great in the playoffs, and I’m not convinced he’s going to be great in the Super Bowl, either.
And yet I’m picking Seattle, basically for two reasons. The first is that if there’s ever been a defense that’s perfectly constructed to stop what Denver does on offense, it’s this Seattle defense. The Seahawks’ secondary is so good that even with Peyton Manning and all the Broncos’ weapons, I think Denver will struggle to sustain long drives. The second reason is that Seattle is a lot better than Denver on special teams. This feels like the kind of close game that could turn on a few big plays in the kicking game, and I expect Seattle to make those plays.
So in the end, I’m looking at a close, hard-fought game that the Seahawks find a way to win.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 23, Broncos 20.
Florio’s take: With all the focus on whether the Seahawks defense can stop Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and whether Manning can find the weak spot before he runs out of time to do so, it’s easy to overlook the question of whether Denver can hold Seattle’s offense to fewer points.
Not with receiver Percy Harvin ready to give running back Marshawn Lynch and quarterback Russell Wilson the ultimate complement.
The Broncos were able to shut down the New England rushing attack, in part because the Patriots abandoned it too early. The Seahawks won’t. Lynch will keep pounding the ball until he gets his inevitable long run, likely for a touchdown. And Wilson will be able to get outside the pocket, since the Broncos edge rushes are neither Aldon Smith nor Ahmad Brooks. And Harvin will do just enough to force the Broncos to pay enough attention to him that they end up flat footed just enough times for Seattle’s purposes.
Yes, there’s a chance the Seahawks aren’t properly preparing to face Manning, with portions of the first-team defensive reps used not against a scout team but against the Seattle starting offense — and with defensive players not spending every waking moment in the days preceding the ultimate final exam cramming for it by trying to crack the code of Peyton’s pre-snap histrionics.
There’s an even better chance they’re already good enough to do enough to give the Seattle offense enough of a chance to outscore Peyton.
Ultimately, that’s the only stat that ever matters. And in Super Bowl XLVIII, Seattle wins by scoring half that many points — 24 — and by holding Peyton and company to four fewer than that.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 24, Broncos 20.