The moment everyone has been waiting two weeks for is almost here. The annual most-watched sporting event, the Super Bowl, is upon us. A rich tradition filled with heroes and goats, the game is bigger than any one man.
There will be a lot on the line for both teams. Can Peyton Manning solidify his legacy as one of the best quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era? Can the Seahawks win their first Super Bowl ever? The storylines are endless.
With this in mind, The Carroll News sports team tackled some of the pressing questions in its weekly roundtable, this week dedicated to the Super Bowl.
1. What are your thoughts on the NFL’s contingency plan to stage the game sometime between Friday and Monday if the weather does not allow for the Sunday night kickoff?
Dale Armbruster: The league made their bed with the outdoor game, and now they have to lie in it. This game should have never been scheduled for outside merely for the fact that weather should never be an excuse for a losing team. I give them credit for being flexible, but it would be a shame for the game to be moved off of the traditional Sunday schedule.
Zach Mentz: I wouldn’t be too worried about this scenario. Weather reports indicate it will be just another New Jersey winter day, nothing severe or threatening. But in the event of extreme weather, the NFL really has no choice but to play the game on another day. I’d prefer to see it on Monday night, just like when the now-defunct BCS Championship is played, but lets hope we can keep the Super Bowl on a Sunday this year.
Kevin Reynolds: If the game is moved it may cause a viewership problem. There could be millions who will be working or attending to other things if the game is moved from its typical Sunday night slot, a time where most people do not have many obligations. Pete Carroll and John Fox may find themselves scrambling if the game is moved up, or struggling to fill new free time if it is moved back. I’ll be watching regardless of when the game is held.
Joe Ginley: I don’t think that it will be a problem, because as Zach said, the latest weather forecast predicts just another wintry day. But if the NFL were to move the game, I would be totally against it. The game is meant to be played on Sunday. Plus, I think it would throw the entire schedule for a loop. Let the players adjust to the snow and cold.
2. The Denver Broncos are the league’s #1 offense, while the Seattle Seahawks have the #1 defense. Which is more likely to give on Super Bowl Sunday?
DA: The Denver offense is more likely to struggle. Peyton Manning is 0-4 in playoff games where the temperature is lower than 40 degrees. Cold weather changes the makeup of the game, and those changes normally favor a hard-hitting defense. Seattle’s defense is less likely to feel the full extent of the cold, especially when they’re the one’s doling out the big hits.
ZM: This matchup of No. 1 offense vs. No. 1 defense brings back some haunting memories, as the first full Super Bowl I watched was a matchup between my high-powered Oakland Raiders and the dominant defense of the Tampa Bay Bucs. We all know how that turned out (48-21 win by Tampa Bay), and the memories have haunted me since. But I think the game has changed a lot since that Super Bowl 11 years ago, so I lean towards Peyton and his offensive unit finding holes in the Seahawks defense rather than vice-versa.
KR: This could depend on the weather, but I think the Seahawks defense. The “Legion of Boom” secondary is considered the strength of the defense but I think they will have a tough time matching up with all of Denver’s weapons. The toughest match-up may be Wes Welker in the slot since Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas will be occupied with the likes of Julian Thomas and Eric Decker. The Seahawks defense has been up and down against the run this year as well. It will be exciting to see which side prevails.
JG: I give the advantage to the Seahawks defense. If the weather called for snow, rain and slop, I’d give the advantage to the Broncos. The offense almost always has the advantage in such conditions because the defense has to react to the offense, and those reactions become slower in sloppy conditions. But since it’s just cold, I give the Seahawks the upper hand. For whatever reason, Peyton doesn’t play well in the cold. He’ll have a solid day, but not on par with his performances throughout the course of his record-breaking season.
3. If Peyton Manning leads Denver to victory, where will his 2013 season rank all-time among single season performances?
DA: Even if he doesn’t win, it’ll be the greatest statistical season in NFL history and one of the most dominant seasons by a player ever. When you include in the playoff games, he’s thrown for over 6,000 yards and almost 60 touchdowns. I’ve owned every Madden since 2003 and I’ve never had a season like that (IN A VIDEO GAME). If he wins, it’s the best season by any player at any position ever.
ZM: Tough to rank and compare individual seasons between players that play different positions, but this might just end up being the best individual season by a player ever. Jerry Rice had some fantastic years obviously, and Adrian Peterson set the single season rushing record in 2012, but Peyton’s numbers say it all: 55 touchdown passes and nearly 5,500 yards? Yeah, tough to out-do that type of season.
KR: I think it has been understated how great of a season he played, and the only way he gets the recognition he deserves is if he wins this game. If the Broncos are crowned champions I think it has to be considered the greatest season a QB has ever had. He elevated the play of everyone around him this year and now has the chance to solidify this season’s performance with a Super Bowl win. If he loses I think the season loses much of its credibility.
JG: Unlike Dale, I wouldn’t say that it’s the best season by a quarterback, let alone any position player. It’s one of the best seasons by a quarterback without a doubt. Considering the fact that Peyton is 37, it is especially incredible. Look at other comparable Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Joe Montana had 2,144 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions at age 37. Troy Aikman and Terry Bradshaw were both done by the time they reached that age. But remember, Peyton was definitely helped by Knowshon Moreno’s 1,000-yard season and having several other dangerous weapons.
4. Which running back, Knowshon Moreno or Marshawn Lynch, will have the better day in the cold?
DA: Lynch is an unbelievable talent. He routinely has one of the highest yards after contact numbers in the NFL. He runs hard, he runs fast and he doesn’t stop until three players bring him down. I’ll take him any day over any running back in the rain, wind or snow. Sorry, Knowshon. You just aren’t in “Beast Mode’s” league.
ZM: Marshawn Lynch, no doubt. I don’t think cold weather affects running backs nearly as much as it does other positions, though it certainly doesn’t help. Marshawn is probably the best running back in the league not named Adrian Peterson, and he also has the advantage of not running against the Seahawks defense, something that I think Moreno will have a tough time with.
KR: Lynch for a couple of reasons. First, I think the Seahawks will have to lean on him for 20+ touches in order for them to win. Second, Russell Wilson has been more of a “game manager” lately. Lynch will need to be the workhorse that carries this team to a victory. Now I think Knowshon Moreno will end up having a pretty good day too since the Broncos have realized a run-game will only make Peyton’s job easier, but “Beast Mode” will be better Sunday.
JG: Before I diss Knowshon, I have to give him major props. His big season allowed Peyton to use play action and deep passes to dissect opposing offenses. But Marshawn is on a completely different level. Like Dale mentioned, Lynch’s yards after contact numbers are insane. He’s had an incredible 2013 season and will be a key part of Seattle’s effort on Sunday.
5. The big question: who wins the game, and who is your Super Bowl MVP?
DA: Seahawks – 21, Broncos – 17 : I love Peyton Manning. I love the way the Broncos pile up obscene numbers on offense. But I respect incredible defenses. Seattle is one of those legendary units. Seahawks win, 21-17, and the media’s favorite cornerback will hoist the MVP. Richard Sherman will be vindicated with a late interception, proving to the media that one less-than-eloquent and emotional postgame interview does not negate immense talent and a 3.9 GPA from Stanford.
ZM: Broncos – 34, Seahawks – 24 : Peyton wins MVP. It’s a predictable pick, but it’s been an unpredictable year for Peyton and it’s deservedly his year. In a modern sports world full of show boaters and ‘me, me, me’ types of guys, it will be rewarding to watch Manning rack up his second Lombardi trophy.
KR: Seahawks – 31, Broncos – 30 : My father lived in Seattle for a while and kind of caused me to take a liking towards the Seahawks. So although I think it will be a tough game I think the Seahawks pull it out. As for the MVP it’s always hard to go against the QB, but I think Earl Thomas will be the MVP of this game if the Seahawks win. If they win they’ll need some big plays from the secondary, and who else but the under appreciated, true leader of the Legion of Boom: Earl Thomas.
JG: Seahawks – 27, Broncos- 24 : As much as I’d like to see Peyton get his second ring, I’m going to predict a Seattle win. Peyton will have a solid day, around 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but the Seahawks win on a lengthy touchdown drive. Lynch will have a great game, with around 125 yards, but Wilson will earn the MVP by making few mistakes and leading the game-winning drive.