BY CHAYIM TAUBER
The last time the Broncos were in the Super Bowl, the narrative was all about one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game leading the Broncos to victory, securing his second ring, and riding off into the sunset. Fifteen years later and little has changed in that narrative as Peyton Manning, the greatest quarterback of all-time in many (including this author’s) opinion has faced his doubters, both regarding his health and his “big-game ability.” Sunday at Super Bowl XLVIII, Peyton will be able to stare down his detractors, as he has so many opposing blitzes, when he competes in what is the paradigm of a “clash of styles” showdown.
The Super Bowl is taking place at Met Life Stadium, a first for the New York area. And the match up is looking to be a good one.
In the one corner you have the Broncos: the record setting, high-octane passing offense that has receiving weapons everywhere you look. They are the “unstoppable offense.” The engine that drives them is the ultra-cerebral, pocket passing, veteran quarterback Peyton Manning.
In the other corner: the Seahawks. Their team’s identity is formed by their brick wall defense. Their secondary is the best in the league by far (as is their defense in general) and they’ve built their reputation on shutting down opposing receivers. Richard “I’m not a thug” Sherman is the best cornerback in the league and he will most likely be tasked with removing Demayrius Thomas from the game.
At quarterback, the Seahawks are led by Manning’s foil, Russell Wilson, a young, mobile, quarterback in his second year in the league. He relies heavily on his scrambling game, not so much to gain yards via the rush, but to extend plays. He doesn’t have that many receiving weapons and is pretty much everything Manning isn’t. It’s the clash of styles, both in terms of teams and quarterbacks that make this such an intriguing championship bout.
Of course, there’s the X factor.
Unstoppable Force vs. The Immovable Object is how the Broncos Offense v. Seahawks defense is being billed, but perhaps the biggest factor in determining the outcome of this game will be the forum in which the game is played and mother nature herself. Both teams thrive at home and have decided advantages that their home arenas. The Broncos rode the mile-high altitude to a 9-1 home record this season (postseason included) while the Seahawks, backed by their mighty “12th man” were a dominant 9-1 as well (11-1 if you count the preseason). Both teams can handle cold and the elements but neither are used to the gusting winds, freezing cold, and possible snow that a Super Bowl in New Jersey offers. Should the weather affect the game, the Seahawks stand to take advantage as the Broncos offense is incredibly pass-reliant. A grind-it-out game best suits the defensive minded Seahawks and their “Beast Mode” running back Marshawn Lynch.
If Peyton can’t throw, the Broncos can’t win. It’s as simple as that.
There are other storylines involved here: the first foray into a Super Bowl for the Seattle franchise, Richard Sherman, Champ Bailey (the 15-year future Hall of Famer is logging his first Super Bowl action), the health of Seahawks wideout Percy Harvin, Peyton’s legacy, Russell Wilson’s Super Bowl debut, Ground n’ Pound v. High Octane Offense, Seattle’s deaf fullback Derrick Coleman, and of course – the outdoor Super Bowl/the weather.
What we can expect as an outcome should be a Super Bowl for the ages.