"Losing the Super Bowl is worse than dying. You have to get up the next morning."
So said George Allen, the former Rams and Redskins coach who never tasted victory in the Super Bowl.
As he was a teetotaler, Allen woke up to the next morning to very vivid memories of his failings the day before. Being the biggest day in the American sporting calendar, the Super Bowl is an opportunity for legacies to be cemented and reputations to be ruined.
In many ways, this year's is a dream finale. The best team in the AFC versus the best team in the NFC. The number one defense against the number one offence. Importantly these are the two best teams in football right now and as such, we are in for a treat.
Seattle's defense should curtail Denver's aerial offence and Seattle's aerial offence is too weak to win them a Super Bowl title. However, in a Skittles fueled Marshawn Lynch, Seattle has a player capable of single handedly winning them the game. Denver's defense ranks 7th – ironically tied with Seattle – against the run. Once Lynch gets into open water he is at his most dangerous, so first up tacklers are going to be key.
On the Denver side of the ball, Knowshon Moreno is a workhorse, but no game winner like Lynch. It is likely that the Seattle defense will be so preoccupied with their threats on the outside that Moreno can go to work. Should he have a good first half, Seattle may be forced to put more numbers in the box allowing Thomas, Decker et. al space on the outside. If it comes to this, Seattle will be in trouble because, despite their mightily impressive secondary, nobody is a match for Peyton Manning's array of weapons.
Looking at the two QB's, they are mentally quite similar. Both have an aura of calm and control.
Manning is the master architect – so comfortable in his abilities, and crucially those of his teammates, that he often changes the play three or more times at the line of scrimmage. A story that illustrates his attention to detail came to light at the start of the year. Manning called his old offensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee and asked him about a play they once ran.
Manning was able to tell David Cutliffe that they ran this play in in the 3rd quarter of the fourth game of his sophomore season. Cutliffe had completely forgotten the play. Considering that Manning must have seen thousands of plays throughout his career, his ability to recite a play over 10 years later is remarkable. This is testament to how dedicated Manning is to his craft.
Despite not being as celebrated throughout his high school and college career as Manning, Russell Wilson has developed into a top 10 QB in the NFL. When Seattle played Jacksonville earlier in the season, a Seattle fan held up a sign taunting Jacksonville about how they drafted a punter before they drafted Wilson.
I could write a whole article on the flaws of the Jacksonville front office, but needless to say this was indicative of his standing around the League. Let us not forget that Seattle brought in Matt Flynn that same season with the assumption in mind that Wilson may not be ready for the NFL. In his first two seasons he is tied only with Ben Roethlisberger for wins in a QB's first two seasons.
His performances aside, his leadership has been exemplary. When ESPN's John Clayton asked Wilson (as evidently he does all virgin Super Bowl QB's), about how they use a different ball during the Super Bowl, Wilson answered that he had already used one of the match balls in an attempt to get a feel for them. Clayton – who got back in his box pretty quickly after that – was enamored and mightily impressed with the young QB's attention to detail. If anything, this shows the Manning side of Russell Wilson.
All major sporting events come down to one thing: which team handles the occasion better. Turnovers will be key. In the pre-season game between these two teams, the Broncos had four turnovers. The Seattle defense is so resolute and talented that I cannot see them going the whole game without forcing a turnover.
The only way the Seahawks will win this game is if they keep it low scoring. As good as Wilson is, there will only be one winner if he gets into a shoot out with Manning. However, I also cannot see a game where the Denver offense does not score at least 24 points. I do not seeing Seattle being able to reach this level on Super Bowl Sunday. My money's on Denver.
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