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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Super Bowl sure to be a battle

After a year in which new stars emerged, records were broken and multiple coaches missed games for health reasons, the two top teams in the NFL remain with a chance to win Super Bowl XLVIII in New York.

This Super Bowl is significant in a variety of ways. It is the first Super Bowl to be played in a cold weather stadium since Super Bowl 10, and it is the sixth time in the Super Bowl era that the best offense in the league, the Broncos, faces the best defense in the league, the Seahawks.

The Broncos and Seahawks are polar opposites from each other. In fact, the only real similarity between the two teams is that they both play in states where marijuana was legalized earlier this year.

The Broncos, led by future Hall of Famer and five-time MVP quarterback Peyton Manning, have had the best offensive seasons in the history of the NFL, scoring a single season record 606 points and 76 touchdowns. They also broke the single season record for most players with 10 or more touchdowns, most passing first downs and most second half points.

Manning himself had arguably the greatest passing season for a quarterback in league history. He threw for 55 touchdowns in 2013 (a league record) and broke Drew Brees’ 2011 record when he passed for 5,477 yards.

The Broncos finished with a 13-3 regular season record and claimed home field advantage in the AFC. After a first round playoff bye, the Broncos faced the San Diego Chargers in the AFC Divisional playoff round.

After jumping out to an early 17-0 lead after three quarters, the Broncos were able to withstand a fourth quarter offensive surge by Phillip Rivers and the Chargers, giving the Broncos a 24-17 win, and advancing them to the AFC Championship game where they would play the New England Patriots lead by Manning’s ultimate rival Tom Brady.

In the past decade the Brady and Manning had played 14 times, three of them in the playoffs, and this AFC Championship was their 15th matchup (fourth in the playoffs). Prior to the game, Brady was 2-1 against Manning, but the two hadn’t met in postseason play since Manning was still with the Indianapolis Colts.

In the AFC Championship game, the Broncos dominated on both sides of the ball after getting out to a fast start on defense. The Patriots were eventually unable to do enough in the end to comeback against Manning’s Broncos, and ended up losing 16-26, sending Manning to the Super Bowl for the third time in his career.

The Seattle Seahawks had similar success during the regular season, but their success was more defensive than offensive. They also boasted a 13-3 regular season record and clinched home field advantage in the NFC Playoffs, an advantage that would prove extremely important for the young Seahawks led by Russell Wilson at quarterback.

The Seattle Seahawks are undoubtedly carried and led by their defense, which was statistically the fourth best defense in NFL history this year. The “Legion of Boom” (the nickname for the secondary of the Seahawks), led by San

Francisco’s new public enemy No. 1 cornerback Richard Sherman, was dominant all year long and was a big factor in the team only losing one home game all year long.

After a first round bye for the Seahawks, the New Orleans Saints and their quarterback Drew Brees went into Seattle hoping to derail them, but it was to no avail.

Seattle dominated defensively, and extended their season to the NFC Championship a week later against the San Francisco 49ers. Out of all of the teams in the playoffs, the 49ers probably had the best chance to beat the Seahawks at home considering that the two teams are extremely similar, and that they play each other twice a year at least.

While San Francisco and QB Colin Kaepernick looked strong early, they committed three turnovers in the fourth quarter and were ultimately unable to score on the last drive when Kaepernick threw a pass that was tipped by Sherman into the hands of Seattle linebacker Malcom Smith for a game-ending interception.

After the game, Sherman called out and took personal shots at 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree, using phrases like “sorry receiver” and “mediocre” to describe him. This caused an uproar everywhere in America and was the no. 1 discussed topic in sports for the next couple of days.

Either way you look at it, this Super Bowl looks to be everything a fan dreams of, the two truly best teams duking it out for eternal bragging rights. While “defense wins championships” may sound cliche at this point, it has historically proved to be correct. In the five times the best offense and defense have played in the Super Bowl, the team with the best defense won four out of the five times.

It will be interesting to see how the variety of weapons for the Broncos offense match up with the stout defense of the Seattle Seahawks. I for one am very interested to see whether Manning decides to try and test Sherman once or twice during the course of the game.

However, as this Super Bowl is being played in a neutral field, this venue has highs and lows for both teams. The Seahawks as a team are built for a cold weather, potentially snowy type of game since they have the best defense in the NFL, and one of the best running games in the league with Marshawn Lynch; however, they are not playing at home, which puts them at a disadvantage. For the Broncos, they are not playing at Century Link Field which gives them an advantage, but Peyton Manning historically is not at his highest level during cold weather games.

In the end, I believe the Broncos and their potent passing attack will be too much for the Seahawks despite having the best cornerback and overall secondary in the league. It will be close, but I think the Broncos will squeeze out a 20-17 victory, thereby giving Peyton Manning a second Super Bowl ring.

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