The 2014 Pro Bowl was, allegedly, better than it has been in previous seasons. I did not watch it, therefore, I cannot share an opinion regarding how good the game was. As long as the in-game rules remained the same, however, I don't think I would have enjoyed it much more than any of the games in years before. Both defenses made plenty of plays, including eight total turnovers and nine sacks between the two teams. Based on a look at the numbers, and watching of highlights, it did seem like the players were having fun, which is what the Pro Bowl should be. It may never be a huge draw for fans, particularly as a television audience, but after a long season it is cool to watch the guys just mess around and do things that may not be seen very often in a regular game.
This year's Super Bowl has the potential to be one of the best Super Bowl's in history. Seattle's defense is, arguably, the best defense since the 2000 Ravens. The best part of this defense, is the secondary, which has shut down the opposing team's passing game, week in and week out. The Denver Broncos have the best offense in history, statistically, and that has been driven by their historically good passing game. It's possible that they have the best group of wide receivers to ever play together, and it is my opinion that they have the best quarterback of all-time. I am incredibly excited for this match-up. Peyton Manning relies heavily on timing when he is throwing the ball, as many of the best quarterbacks do, and the Seahawks rely heavily on pressure and tight man coverage. The best way to throw off the timing of a pass play, is to press the receivers and slow down, or alter their route. The Seahawks will have to do much more than throw off the timing, but that is certainly a great start, particularly considering how good they are at it. Richard Sherman is physical and smart at corner, Earl Thomas is intelligent and extraordinarily fast, and they are the headliners for a secondary often called "The Legion of Boom".
If the Seahawks want to actually shut down Denver's offense, however, they will need to keep the Broncos' run game in check, and get at least some pressure on Manning. The Broncos may have the receivers to beat Seattle with. Whether big and fast like Demaryius Thomas, or quick and shifty like Wes Welker, they have guys with the ability to beat Seattle's press. Keep a close eye on the battles on the outside in this game, they have the potential to be the most intriguing part of the game, as well as the most important. Stopping the run against Denver isn't exactly a picnic either. Knowshon Moreno has had a great season for the Broncos, and he runs hard every time he touches the ball. Seattle's defense has improved over last year's defense and become much more stout against the run. Michael Bennett has been a great addition, in getting to the quarterback and stopping the run. Bobby Wagner is all over the field and consistently makes tackles in the backfield. Moreno is a very quick running back, but in the Conference Championship game against San Francisco, the only player with any success on the ground was quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and we know Peyton Manning isn't about to run like Kaepernick. If the Seattle secondary can disrupt Manning's timing, the offensive line can be beaten. The Seahawks can get to the quarterback, and they will need to take advantage of the press coverage.
Russell Wilson didn't put up gaudy numbers like Manning did over the course of the season, but most of the criticism regarding his ability is unfounded. He hasn't had big numbers, but he has played well, and has made few mistakes. Wilson was under pressure on many of his drop backs, and was sacked often, but he didn't turn the ball over often. With that defense behind him, Wilson is able to "live to fight another day", and they can come up with big plays when necessary. Denver's defense has played better since Champ Bailey came back, which could be a coincidence, and they bottled up the Chargers and Patriots on subsequent weeks. They haven't been hit by a running back like Marshawn Lynch, though. When a guy like Lynch is slamming into defenders over and over, they tend to back off a step and Lynch is able to break some big plays and run through larger holes. It isn't easy to stand up to that kind of beating, but the Patriots have a running back that is actually bigger than Lynch, and Denver was able to completely shut him down, so they may be equipped to handle Lynch.
Terrance Knighton is a giant of a man, who has helped to solidify Denver's run defense, and they're going to need him against Seattle. The Broncos' leading tackler was second year linebacker Danny Trevathan. Trevathan, and middle linebacker Wesley Woodyard, who used to be a safety, use their great quickness to make plays, but they will need to make plays on a very big, fast running back. Denver's secondary is probably better than Seattle's receiving corps, and Shaun Phillips will have help rushing Wilson, particularly considering the vulnerability of Wilson's offensive line. Wilson does a good job of moving around and buying time, typically while looking for somewhere to throw it, and not somewhere to run. Jermaine Kearse has proven, in recent weeks, to be particularly adept at getting open after things break down, as has Doug Baldwin. That may not be enough to beat one of the best corner backs in the game, in Champ Bailey, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who is a great corner in his own right.
The weather will have a slight impact, but the talking heads on television, and text, have tried to make it into a big deal. Snow will make the game even more beautiful, and it could make it more fun. The most important part of the Super Bowl, is the game itself, even if the importance of money tends to supersede the excitement and interest in the game. The weather is barely even a secondary story for this game.
This post began with an intention to show the inadequacy, or inability, of the majority of sportswriters to capture the sport they are writing about, whether it's a regular game or the most important game of the year. I am going to stick with using it as a Super Bowl preview post, however. This is likely to be the most exciting game of the year, and although I am pulling for the Seahawks and their defense to win, the outcome is only going to be a fraction of the excitement. If the game becomes a blowout, it will be just as interesting as the close fought game that I am expecting because of what it will mean. The Broncos offense could, ultimately, score at will against the Seahawks defense, and it will be incredible to witness that domination, just as much as it will be if the Seahawks defense tears up the Broncos offense. I can't wait to see the game, and write my thoughts and observations. Watch closely for the match up between Seattle's defensive backs and Denver's wide receivers and tight ends. Peyton Manning will be up to his normal tricks, but I am intrigued about whether he will be able to beat Sherman and company.