LITTLE ROCK — Analysis based on old news or Seattle’s lack of Super Bowl experience is a waste, angles pursued when the truth is obvious.
Nothing has changed since the league championship games on Jan. 19 — the Super Bowl is the Denver offense vs. the Seattle defense. The only unknown is whether the wind will be strong enough to affect Peyton Manning’s passes. If so, advantage Seattle.
Forget Seattle 40, Denver 10 in mid-August, Richard Sherman’s antics after the NFC championship game and the extended reaction, and the fact that Seattle doesn’t have anybody who has played in a Super Bowl.
Seattle’s 30-point victory included Marshawn Lynch carrying the ball two times and Russell Wilson throwing two touchdown passes. Lynch has carried at least 16 times in every game but one this year and Wilson hasn’t thrown more than one TD pass in each of the last four games.
Sherman’s words and choke sign received an overload of attention because he was available to the media in the days that followed and the material was good filler for the lag time until both teams arrived on the East Coast.
OK, Manning and other Broncos have been to the Super Bowl. I’m pretty sure the Seahawks have figured out this is a big game. If not, about 2,000 people will remind them today at Media Day. Besides, former Indianapolis center Jeff Saturday said the other day that he was just as nervous in his second Super Bowl as he was in his first.
Fresh from reviewing the 11-year-old granddaughter’s homework, I tried to apply her factor tree to Denver-Seattle. Searching for the prime factorization of 48, she began with 6 and 8. Under the first branch was 2 x 3. Under the second branch, the eventual result was 2 x 2 x 2.
Under Denver’s “O” would be protecting the 37-year-old Manning and running the ball enough to enable Manning to do his cerebral thing.
Under Seattle’s “D” would be pass defense, including pressuring Manning and Sherman’s coverage on Demaryius Thomas.
One man’s opinion is that Sherman will do the job against Thomas, extremely productive in the league title game after New England’s best cover defender was eliminated by Wes Welker. If Sherman is successful, Manning to Welker on dinky patterns will be a must. Manning might have an occasional opportunity to throw deep, but arm strength is a question.
Seattle’s offense vs. Denver’s defense is the secondary storyline. Simply, will Lynch be so effective that Wilson doesn’t have to make big plays and, if the onus is on the second-year quarterback, can Denver keep him from escaping the pocket and improvising?
Although Wilson attempted 252 fewer passes than Manning during the regular season, his yards per attempt was 8.25 vs. Manning’s 8.31. Much like other mobile quarterbacks, Wilson’s feet enhance his arm.
Because of Seattle’s defense, there is a real possibility that the team with the inferior quarterback will defeat the team with one of the best QBs in NFL history.
To be effective on offense, Seattle needs at least 90 yards from Lynch and Denver needs the same production from Welker.
Picking the game, I’m torn between emotion and fact.
Rarely do I root for anybody, but Manning epitomizes the best of professional athletes. Any time Manning is in the news, it is for the right reason. Besides, if he wins a second Super Bowl, the red-and-white “Archie Who” button, purchased prior to the Jan. 1, 1970, Sugar Bowl and tucked away in a closet, might have added value and naysayers will shut up about Manning’s legacy.
Growing up on defense, field position, and turnovers in the old Southwest Conference, Seattle is built just right, including plus-20 in turnovers during the regular season. If Wilson doesn’t help Denver, the Seahawks win a close one.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.