The playoff system in the NFL is designed to give the team with the best regular season record in each conference the upper hand, as they fight towards the Super Bowl. This season, the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos were those teams. They had the two best records in the NFL, and they earned a first round week in the playoffs and home-field advantage.
The two number one seeds do not always make it through the playoffs, however. There is normally a random wildcard team that comes in and stirs up trouble, like what happened last year with the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. This year was different, and for the first time since 2009, the two top seeds in each conference are in the Super Bowl.
The Denver Broncos had an outstanding 13-3 season. Peyton Manning led the top rated offense in the NFL in both scoring and yardage. Manning torched defenses all season long, setting the NFL record for most yards in a single season with 5,477. At 37 years old, he set the record for most touchdown passes in a single season with 55.
Manning had the most successful season by a quarterback NFL ever. But he did not do it by himself; he had a plethora of great receivers to throw the football to. With four receivers that caught at least ten touchdowns, defenses did not know who to cover.
The Bronco’s defense did not necessarily need a great year because they almost always had the lead in their games. The Bronco’s defense did not play well, but they did what they needed to do-to make sure that Manning and the offense always had a comfortable lead.
The Seattle Seahawks had an equally outstanding 13-3 season. Their defense finished as the very best in the NFL. Their secondary, led by the loud Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, is known to shut out opposing receivers. The tough front seven only allowed four rushing TDs all season, tied with Carolina for the league low.
If you watched the NFC championship game, you saw firsthand the resiliency of this defense. With 30 seconds remaining, Sherman made an outstanding play on the ball by batting it away from Michael Crabtree and into the hands of a Seattle linebacker for a game-sealing interception. That is the kind of big play that Seattle has been making all season long. They may look like they will be beat, but they fight harder than almost any other team out there.
The Seahawks strong secondary will be the biggest challenge Manning has faced all season. But on the flip side, Manning will be the best quarterback the Seahawks have seen.
Their offense did not have the best season statistically, but Russell Wilson played fantastically. He did not set any records, but he controlled games and turned them into wins. The Seahawks offense is one of the best at slowing the game down, and creating long drives that keep the other team’s offense off the field.
Running back Marshawn Lynch had another great season. “Beast Mode” finished the year with 1,257 yards rushing with 12 touchdowns. He was a huge piece in this offense because of his big play ability.
This Super Bowl is being played by two great teams with two great head coaches. The game will probably end up being very close.
If the Seahawks are able to slow the game down and keep Manning off the field, they will win it. If the Bronco’s offense gets on a roll, there is no way the Seahawks will be able to win.
It will probably come down to the wire; whoever has the ball last will most likely win this one. The weather will most likely play a part in this game. The game will be held in New York, which means there will be snow. Peyton Manning has not always handled the cold well.
But emotion should also play a huge part. The Broncos have not played very many close games this season so if it gets close, who will be more motivated? If the 12th man finds their way to New York, it could end up being a long game for the Broncos.
As the world watches, the best team in the NFL will earn the title of Super Bowl XLVIII Champions.
– Joseph Dugger, Contributing Writer