Prediction: Broncos 31, Seahawks 17.
Peyton Manning might have his best-ever receiving corps in Denver. That’s quite a statement, given that Manning’s Colts had a pair of potential Hall of Famers in Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. But consider this: in Manning’s record-breaking 2004 season with Indianapolis, his receivers gained 38 percent (1,725 yards) of Manning’s 4,557 total passing yards after the catch. This year, his receivers gained an NFL record 2,682 yards after the catch, or a whopping 49 percent of Manning’s record-setting 5,447 passing yards.
Denver can attack with big-play split end Demaryius Thomas, sturdy flanker Eric Decker or crafty veteran Wes Welker operating out of the slot. There’s also tight end Julius Thomas, a former college hoops standout who should change his surname to “Erving” to avoid confusion with Demaryius.
Seattle’s roster was designed to beat the division rival San Francisco 49ers, whose smashmouth style couldn’t differ more from Denver’s. The Seahawks weren’t built for comebacks or shootouts; their only chance is to keep the game close early, then use running back Marshawn Lynch to control the clock and keep Manning off the field.
Manning has a history of big-game meltdowns and hasn’t played well in bad weather. But many of his past errors have come from forcing a play when his team needed it. In the AFC title game, Manning’s cautious approach gave the Patriots’ defense few chances to make big plays.
On top of that, Sunday’s forecast calls for clear skies. Let’s not kid ourselves; the Seahawks are clearly the underdogs here.
Prediction: Broncos 35, Seahawks 23.
Former Sports Writer
In my line of work, I try to show how the study of the past can help inform the present.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t really help much when it comes to this year’s Super Bowl.