I have to say, I am looking forward to this matchup. The number offense has faced the number one defense on only four other occasions, with defense winning three of the contests (defensive leader in bold):
1978 Super Bowl XIII: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Dallas Cowboys
Steelers 35, Cowboys 31
1984, Super Bowl XIX: San Francisco 49ers vs. Miami Dolphins
49ers 38, Dolphins 16
1989, Super Bowl XXIV: San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos
49ers 55, Broncos 10
1990, Super Bowl XXV: New York Giants vs. Buffalo Bills
Giants 20, Bills 19
This game, Super Bowl XLVIII, has the makings of a classic. The number one offense in scoring and total yardage faces the number one defense in scoring and total yardage. The Seattle Seahawks have not faced an offense as deadly as the Denver Broncos. The Denver Broncos have not faced a hard-nosed, physical defense like the Seattle Seahawks.
The Manning-led Broncos and their varied formations, audibles, shifts, and “Omahas” face the straight forward Seahawks. They line their front four and paly man-to-man behind, daring the other team to match their physicality.
The weather story has become a non-factor, and that favors the Broncos. Percy Harvin, a non-factor all season, is ready to add a wrinkle to the Seahawks offense. That favors the Seahawks. Stalemate.
If the Broncos’ offense and the Seahawks’ defense neutralize each other to some degree, this game really will be determined by the play of the Broncos’ defense and the Seahawks’ offense. The Denver defense has been stout against the run for most of the season, and they have only allowed 64.5 yards per game in the postseason. However, they are facing the Seahawks and Marshawn Lynch—Beast Mode. Lynch, aka Beast Mode, has been just that averaging 4.2 yards a carry in the regular season, and 5 yards a carry in the postseason.
The catch is that the passing game has faltered for Seahawks. Since Week 14, Russell Wilson has only cracked 200 yards twice and he only has five touchdowns with three interceptions. With his dynamic play, Harvin has a chance to breathe new life into the passing offense. But, will the timing between him and Wilson exist? On the big stage, I think Wilson continues his late-season swoon.
In the first cold weather Super Bowl, my heart says that the offense will buck the trend and outlast the defense. Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos just have too many weapons on offense. Time and time again, Manning will find a way to crack the Seahawks defense by getting his team in the favorable matchup. He will find the open man.
However, my head is whispering that defense will prevail. My head is saying that the Seahawks will frustrate the Broncos’ receivers and that the front four will get Manning off his spot. Harvin will add a spark to the offense and the Seahawks will make enough plays on offense to keep Manning on the bench, limiting his touches.
Anyone who knows me knows that I lead with my heart. Broncos in a thriller.
I hate this idea with every fiber in my body. Adding playoff teams will certainly add excitement to the end of the season as more teams could be vying for playoff spots. But, at what cost? The NFL has already had a losing team qualify for the playoffs (the 2010 Seattle Seahawks), do they want more? Parity has made the league exciting, and parity could create an exciting postseason, but it would be based in poor play creating excitement, not quality. The ending to the snowy Ravens-Vikings game was exciting, but was it good football? The NFL gods got it right this year with the Super Bowl matchup—the top offense facing the top defense.
Furthermore, adding two teams to the playoffs creates a scheduling nightmare for Wildcard weekend. Friday night playoff games? Really? No thank you. How do you assure that there is a fair competitive balance in when teams play following Wildcard weekend?
In my opinion, this is a scenario where the benefits do not outweigh the drawbacks.
This is a no brainer. Take replay out of the hands of the referees on the field by centralizing replay at the NFL headquarters. This will speed up the game.
I understand that not all plays can be reviewable as that could disrupt the flow of the game. However, the types of plays that are reviewable need to be tweaked. One that needs to be revised is the defenseless receiver/hit to the head call. The college game has found a common sense way to review this call and the NFL should follow suit. The down by contact/the whistlle has blown needs revising as well.
Legal Marijuana in the NFL
This is a complicated topic but I think it will become a real area of conversation in the upcoming years. The game of football is very physical, but I am not sure if medicinal marijuana is the answer for those types of ailments.
However, with more states legislating the sale and use of marijuana, this will become even more of a cultural discussion. Is it ironic that two of the states where marijuana is legal are participating in the Super Bowl?