So we know that offense wins games, but does defense win championships? This Sunday’s matchup between Denver’s number one ranked offense and Seattle’s number one ranked defense should finally settle the debate. Not surprisingly, if you’re the best in either of these categories there is a good chance it will lead your team to the Super Bowl. The Big Game has seen this matchup throughout its history. Hindsight is 20/20, so let’s examine some trends that could help determine the outcome of Super Bowl XLVIII. In games that feature the “offense vs. defense” moniker, the defense is 6 – 4. The Seahawks were on the losing end of one these matchups in Super Bowl XL. Pittsburgh came in with the league’s best defense that season and stifled the Seattle offense. The Giants somewhat pedestrian offense beat Tom Brady and the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII after they set all kinds offensive records. That season Brady broke Dan Marino’s mark for the most touchdowns in a single season. The Giants defense had a good pass rush all game and kept Brady uncomfortable. A little magic from the now retired David Tyree helped, but it was the defense that gave the Giants their third Super Bowl.
THE #1 OFFENSE
The Seahawks will be looking for their first championship, but will have to contend with a quarterback who broke Tom Brady’s short lived single season TD pass record this year. Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos outscored the entire NFL by a WIDE margin this season. The numbers are baffling. Denver scored 606 points this year. No other team in NFL history has scored 600 points or more in a season. No other NFL team was within 160 points of that total this season either. The Broncos averaged 37.9 points per game and no other team finished within 10 points of that average. Their offense also had three 50-points games this year, as many as the rest of the league combined. The team that scored the second most this season, the Chicago Bears, had 445 points. According to Bill Barnwell of Grantland.com, this is astonishing for a number of reasons. “Denver could have stopped scoring after its 35-28 win against the Chiefs in Week 13 and spent the final four weeks of the regular season delivering pizzas, and it still would have led the league in scoring by 19 points,” writes Barnwell. Even with NFL offenses reaching their highest point average ever this season (23.4), Denver’s accomplishments this season are still ridiculous. This Broncos team may have the best offense in NFL history and it’s no surprise that the seemingly ageless Peyton Manning led them there.
THE #1 DEFENSE
Unfortunately for Manning he has to play a historically great defense in the Seahawks. Opposing teams only scored 14.4 points per game against Seattle and their defense allowed a league low 231 points this year. History says Seattle’s defense has the advantage, but the past won’t determine the outcome of this game, it’s Seattle secondary that will. The Seahawks will match up well with the Bronco’s finesse wide receivers. Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are very fast but both Seattle’s cornerbacks have the speed to keep up with them and the strength to jam them at the line of scrimmage. The Seahawks are athletic enough at safety to keep up with Wes Welker in the slot as well. The success of both offenses will depend on who can run the football. Seattle’s fourth-ranked rushing attack will be Denver’s priority on defense. Any offense led by Peyton Manning will look to pass first, but Knowshon Moreno could make Manning’s job a lot easier by making the play-action pass an option. Even with all of the Broncos weapons on offense, Seattle’s defense will not be denied. The Seahawks will keep the game low scoring and use their running game to drain time off the clock to keep Peyton Manning off the field. Marshawn Lynch wins MVP in Seattle’s first Super Bowl victory.
SEAHAWKS 22 BRONCOS 20