The NFL betting lines say the Seattle Seahawks will lose Super Bowl XLVIII to the Denver Broncos. The advanced stats say otherwise. How will the Seahawks beat the Broncos this Sunday?
Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013-14, up to January 28 inclusive:
1-1 ML (+0.71 units)
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Eight years ago, the Seattle Seahawks were 4-point underdogs to win Super Bowl XL, but the efficiency stats said they were better on paper than the Pittsburgh Steelers. We all know how that turned out; the Steelers got the benefit of the doubt from the referees, and they won 21-10. Now the Seahawks are 2-point underdogs on the Super Bowl XLVIII betting lines, and the efficiency stats say they’re better than the Denver Broncos. But that’s where the similarities end. This is a much different Seahawks team, and this is a much different Super Bowl. Here’s how Seattle will win this Sunday.
1. Peyton Manning will throw two interceptions
The Seahawks had the best offense in the NFL in 2005; this year, they’ve got the best defense, led by the Legion of Boom secondary. We all know about CB Richard Sherman now, but Seattle also has two of the best safeties in the game: Earl Thomas at free safety and Kam Chancellor at strong safety. While Sherman and his fellow corners stick to the Broncos like glue, Thomas and Chancellor will lay the heavy lumber, and they’ll create a pair of picks among them. Wes Welker will be knocked out of the game and won’t return, because karma.
2. Marshawn Lynch will rush for 100 yards and score two touchdowns
Seattle’s No. 1 weapon on offense will be in full Beast Mode on Sunday. Lynch topped the century mark in both the Divisional round against the New Orleans Saints and the NFC title game against the San Francisco 49ers. He found the end zone twice against the Saints and once more against San Francisco. While Denver’s defensive line ranked No. 3 in adjusted line yards allowed, it was just No. 13 in power situations, and No. 16 in the open field – which is where Lynch will find himself when he breaks free for a key 40-yard gain in the second half.
3. Percy Harvin will catch 10 passes, score a TD, and gain 80 return yards
This is where Seattle can really take advantage on Sunday. We haven’t gotten to see much of Harvin this year, but he’s one of the most gifted receivers in the league, and he’s had three weeks to recover from the beating the Saints put on him in the Divisional round. Everyone knows that Denver is vulnerable without LB Von Miller and CB Chris Harris, but the Broncos are also one of the worst teams in the league at covering kick returns, and the conditions at the New Meadowlands will make it hard for them to just kick the ball out of the end zone. Harvin will give Seattle excellent field position on those rare occasions that Denver kicks the ball.
4. Pete Carroll will out-coach John Fox
Fox has been to the Super Bowl before with the Carolina Panthers, but this is Pete Carroll’s coming-out party. He’s one of the most brilliant minds in the business, taking the USC Trojans to the top of the mountain in 2003 and 2004 (okay, one of those wins was vacated) and turning around a Seahawks program that had fallen flat after Jim L. Mora took over for the retired (hah!) Mike Holmgren. Carroll was an early adopter when it came to going for it on fourth down; he’s also a proponent of sports psychology, adopting many of the same Zen principles that we give 11-time NBA champion coach Phil Jackson credit for using. But mostly, Carroll is a genius when it comes to the secondary. The Legion of Boom is his gift to the world, and it’ll be Christmas in February for Seahawks fans.
How does a simulated Madden matchup have this game playing out?