TWD Sunday Super Bowl Thread #5 For 2/2/14: The Pre-Game Runthrough, Matchups, and Predictions
Both kickers Steven Hauschka and Matt Prater have emerged as two of the elite kickers in the game and have kicked at Metlife this season. Hauschka may have more of an advantage since he kicks regularly in swirling winds in Seattle, though it won't be as windy as most thought it would be, so Prater shouldn't have too much of a disadvantage
33 for 35 was Hauschka for the season while Prater was even better at 25 for 26.
Britton Colquitt is firmly among the best punters in the league, while Jon Ryan is a little bit of a weakness at the moment. Eric Decker, or Trindon Holliday, could provide quality returns needed, while Colquitt could make it hard on either Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate or Percy Harvin by pinning them deep. Field position, as in every playoff game, is so vital.
Holliday and Harvin of course are elite, dynamic returners, and both Tate and Decker are among the best punt returners in the league.
Special teams really is a push, but a slight edge to the Broncos because of the ability to Holliday.
When Seattle has the ball:
1) Seattle's C Max Unger, G's James Carpentier and J.R. Sweezy vs Denver DT's Slyvester Williams and Terrance Knighton
The running game is so vital for Seattle, but the Broncos have been marvelous at stopping the run in the playoffs so far, particularly in shutting down LaGarette Blount two weeks ago.
2) Seattle T's Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini vs Denver DE's Shuan Phillips and Derek Wolfe or Robert Ayers.
The pass rush is always vital, and Phillips will be up against it versus the elite Okung, where Wolfe and especially Ayers will have to help cause problems on Giacomini on the other side. Wilson has firm duel threat ability, but he must be made uncomfortable and forced to either be caught in two thoughts, whether to run or to pass, to hesitate just too much and either get sacked and fumble the ball like he did two weeks ago.
3) Seattle QB Russell Wilson and RB Marshawn Lynch vs Denver LB's Wesley Woodyard, Danny Trevathan, and Nate Irving
Although stopping Lynch will be their major test, both Woodyard and Trevathan have to be wary of Wilson's ability to scramble besides Lunch's ability to rumble.
4) Seattle's TE Zach Miller vs Denver's Irving or Trevathan
Miller could be the key man in this game, where he is valuable safety net for Wilson besides being a good blocker.
5) Seattle's WR Percy Harvin, Golden Tate, Doug Baldin, and Jermaine Kearse vs Denver DB's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Champ Bailey, Quentin Jammer, and Tony Carter
With the return of Harvin, it will be interesting to see who will cover him. You would have to think Rogers-Cromartie will, be Harvin will be in motion a few times as well as not always lining up on his side, but instead of Bailey. This is where the loss of Chris Harris could finally hurt the Broncos, as Denver would have had two corners who could have keep up with Harvin's great speed and athleticism, if Harvin is able to play the whole game of course.
When Denver has the ball:
1) Denver's T's Chris Clark and Orlando Franklin vs Seattle's Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril, and Red Bryant
The offensive line for the Broncos has been simply sensational in allowing Manning to have the vital time to operate in these playoffs. However, they will face their toughest test against arguably the league's toughest front line. If Clemons, Avril, and Bryant apply pressure constantly, it will be a long night for Peyton trying to get his second Super Bowl.
2) Denver's RB Knowshon Moreno vs Seattle's LB's Bruce Irwin
More than running today, Moreno, along with Montee Ball, will be vital in his last game with Denver with blocking and protecting Manning, besides catching the ball out of the backfield. Irwin will have to beat him when he comes on any potential blitzes, as well as handle him or J.Thomas in coverage.
3) Denver's WRs Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker vs Seattle's Byron Maxwell, Richard Sherman, Jeremy Lane, and Earl Thomas
Jeremy Lane will have to be as good as Maxwell and Sherman today if he plays, since any receiver getting open for Manning will get the ball thrown to him. That also includes Andre Caldwell and even Holliday.
4) Denver's TE's Julius Thomas and Jacob Tamme vs Seattle's Bobby Wagner, Malcom Smith and Kam Chancellor.
First Key Losses:
Seattle has been able to operate without Sydney Rice's services for the whole year, will his absence finally be felt? I don't think so, especially with Percy Harvin being available. Can he stay healthy the whole game? A lot of people doubt that though, including yours' truly.
The Seahawks have also been able to overcome the loss of Brandon Browner, although the league is cruel with its players having to deal with marijuana issues, along with Washington and Colorado being the only states to legalize marijuana in the American union. Maxwell though has fit the bill so well to line up on the opposite side of Sherman.
Their losses pale in comparison to Denver's losses. Von Miller and Chris Harris being gone could finally be devastating for them here, as well as the losses of Kevin Vickerson and standout O-linemen Ryan Clady and Dan Koppen. I feel their losses will factor in today.
I just think that with Wilson's duel threat ability and the return of Harvin is vital for Seattle, and watch for both Kearse and Miller being threats today. The loss of Chris Harris is even more of a blow than Miller, since Harris with Rodgers-Cromartie and Bailey had emerged as just as formidable a secondary as Seattle's most publicized secondary.
With both teams great on special teams and the Broncos underrated defense, I would be totally shocked if the two best teams in the league this season have a one-sided Super Bowl. Even with me being that the front 7 of Seattle will get constant pressure on Manning today, I think that Moreno and Montee Ball will have some success in the running game.
It will be a tight one, it will be a close one, but I think Cliff Avril or Clemons get the last sack of the game to seal what will be a 20-17 win for the Seattle Seahawks.