First things first the Super Bowl is in New Jersey, not New York. The Meadowlands is in a town called East Rutherford. Media Day was in Newark, the teams landed at Newark Airport and they are staying in Jersey City. The Seahawks are practicing at Giants facility at the Meadowlands, while the Broncos are the Jets facilities in Florham Park. They are in counties called Essex, Hudson, Bergen and Morris. NOT New York. There are parties in New York, but no players and nothing important as Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos fight for the Lombardi Trophy. The game is being played not too far from the Vince Lombardi rest area of the New Jersey Turnpike. The Garden State of course was the birth place and his final resting spot is not too far away either at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Middletown. Oh and that first Lombardi Trophy that too was made here in New Jersey at the Tiffany Factory in Newark’s Forrest Hill Section.
This is not the first time the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos are meeting in the postseason. Way back in 1983 the Seahawks made their first ever playoff appearance against the Broncos, winning a Wild Card Round game 31-7 at the Kingdome. Back then of course the Broncos and Seahawks were divisional rivals in the AFC West, meeting twice a year. Things were different back then for the two franchises, while John Elway was having a Hall of Fame career; the Seahawks at times barely managed to compete, once going 12 years between playoff appearances. Despite their geographical closeness no true rivalry ever developed.
The stakes are always high when the World Championship is on the line. However, for Peyton Manning some believe that his legacy is also up for grabs. With mind boggling numbers with a record 55 Touchdown passes and a record 5,477 passing yards Peyton Manning is the unquestioned MVP of the 2013 NFL season, helping to lead the Broncos to a 13-3 season and a record 606 points scored. This comes just two years after it appeared that his career was over after missing the entire 2011 season following a series of neck surgeries. Had his career ended right there Peyton Manning would have been considered one of the best quarterbacks of all time, as he saved the Indianapolis Colts. However, he managed just to win one Super Bowl in two Super Bowl appearances with the Colts. If Manning cane win on Sunday and become the first quarterback to win Super Bowls with two different franchises the only debate that will be left is if Peyton Manning is the greatest of all time. Looking at the stats, looking at his success, and looking at five MVPs it will be hard to argue against it.
If Peyton Manning is the hero in the Super Bowl than the Seahawks have been cast in the role of villain, and while the Richard Sherman rant was blown out of proportion, like a good WWE bad guy sometimes it’s more fun to be the heel. Sherman in many ways is a great role model, coming from one of the roughest neighborhoods in Compton, California to NFL stardom. However, his success off the field is just as great as his All-Pro resume; he was a top student at Stanford and had a SAT score that would make an Ivy Leaguer proud. If Richard Sherman, a strong candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, can make an impact in the Super Bowl and take away Manning’s believed coronation he could become the face of the new NFL defense.
Just like the cool, down home charm of Peyton Manning is a far cry from the loud, crass Richard Sherman this Super Bowl is a story of contrasts. The Broncos of course are led by an offense that is one of the best in NFL history, while the Seahawks are spurred by a smash mouth defense. The Broncos set a record for points scored, while the Seahawks allowed fewer points than other team in the NFL this season. This is the fifth time that the team with the most points scored are playing the team with the fewest points allowed in the Super Bowl. In the previous four Super Bowls it was the team that allowed the fewest points that won the Lombardi Trophy three times, even in Super Bowl XIII when the two teams combined for a than record 66 points. The lone exception was when Joe Montana and the 49ers embarrassed the Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV. It has been 23 years since the top defense and top offense met in the Super Bowl, and the NFL has gone a complete change since then. Back in the day, the Defense won Championships, more physical play and contact was allowed. Now it’s an offense at quarterback league giving the Broncos a decisive advantage.
The Seahawks have a good young quarterback in Russell Wilson, who has gone further than anyone could have imagined when he was taken in the third round by the Seahawks in the 2012 NFL Draft. However, he is not flawless and has struggled in this year’s playoffs. If he plays as poorly as he did against the Saints and 49ers this game could get out of hand quickly. The key to taking pressure off Wilson will rest in the hands of Marshawn Lynch. If Lynch can have a big day and help the Seahawks offense keep the ball away from Manning and the Broncos the Seahawks will have a chance to win the game. However, the Broncos run defense has been terrific in the playoffs as they have shut down the run game of both the Chargers and Broncos, with Dismissed Terrance Knighton better known as “Pot Roast” becoming a household name. If Knight turns Beast mode into Roast Beast the Broncos will no doubt win the game.
Everywhere you look you see advantages for Broncos, as Peyton Manning has several targets that can have a big game. This is where the game will be decided as the Seahawks secondary known as the Legion of Boom is the best in the NFL. Richard Sherman can scare shutdown any receiver just by covering him. They also have Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas who are both capable of taking it the other way. If the Legion of Boom can beat down the Broncos secondary and the Seahawks can get pressure on Peyton Manning the Seahawks will have a chance.
The big concern for the Seahawks is their inexperience as not one player on their roster has been in a previous Super Bowl. The Broncos meanwhile have a more veteran team with players and coaches both having experienced the whirlwind that surrounds the biggest game of the year. One thing that should help Seattle is the loose atmosphere surrounding Coach Pete Carroll. However, Russell Wilson did look scared in the NFC Championship Game and fumbled on the first snap, if the Seahawks are to have a chance that cannot happen again.
The Broncos big concern is the weather with this being the first “cold” Super Bowl at the Meadowlands. However, the forecast looks good for Sunday with highs around 40 degrees without any heavy precipitation. Bad weather would have helped the Seahawks as Manning has never fared well in poor weather conditions, while physical defensive teams like the Seahawks excel in the slop.
The path for victory for the Broncos seems rather simple, if Peyton Manning has a big day, it is more than likely the Broncos will win the game. On the other hand the Seahawks need an almost perfect storm. They need Russell Wilson to be sharp, they need a big day from Marshawn Lynch, they must control the time of possession and their secondary must be able to shut down the Broncos receivers and prevent Manning from lighting up the Jersey sky. The Seahawks almost need a perfect storm to win the game.
From the very start of the season, on that Thursday after Labor Day the NFL season has been year of Peyton. The game is played in the stadium Peyton’s little brother Eli calls home. Eli has two Super Bowl rings and won his second in the home stadium of Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. Manning has had a record breaking season, won the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, had viral music video with Eli it only seems fitting he takes home the Lombardi Trophy and the Super Bowl MVP.