Monday, July 29, 2013

My 2014 Super Bowl Prediction


My 2014 Super Bowl Prediction
By Jordan Wagner

Yes, it is still July, but baseball highlights just don’t grip me the same way as an imagined Super Bowl matchup. I’ve wanted to get around to writing this article ever since March, and now I’m happy to announce my 2014 Super Bowl prediction:

 Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks.

Let’s start with Denver. After their first season with Peyton Manning, I think it’s safe to say now that Denver is the strongest title contender in the AFC. This past year, he threw 400 completions for 4,659 yards, his second highest accumulation of yards during a regular season ever (1). With 37 TD passes this past season, he finished in third place overall, just behind Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers (2). Needless to say, Manning didn’t look old or rusty during his first season with Denver. His receivers, namely Demaryius Thomas and Erick Decker, had a solid year as well. Thomas finished off with 1,434 receiving yards, putting him at 4th place overall, and Decker wasn’t too far behind with 1,064 yards. Denver’s passing attack was outstanding; Oddshark.com ranks their offense at number 2 overall coming into the 2013 season, just behind New England, which I find interesting considering Hernandez will no longer be playing and the effects of Gronkowski’s injury remain to be seen (3).

 What’s going to be the X factor with the Denver offense this year? Wes Welker, of course. Everyone is anxiously waiting to see how he contributes to the Broncos’ offense, and I am anticipating he will be deadly on third down plays as a slot receiver. Defenses already have enough trouble guarding Thomas and Decker, so with the speedy Welker slicing across the middle of the field, it’s going to be mayhem for anyone facing Peyton and company.

But hey, don’t count out that Denver defense! Oddshark.com ranks them at number four overall coming into the 2013 season (3). In terms of yards allowed per game, the Broncos only allowed an average of 290.8, putting them at number 2 overall in that category just behind the Steelers (2). With 18.5 sacks last season, rising star Von Miller took 3rd place overall for the year (and while he faces possible suspension charges, it would be for just four games, so I don't think that's long enough to seriously impact the Broncos overall). Even Champ Bailey, the aging corner, has stayed consistent over the past few years, averaging 2 interceptions a season and still providing a strong leadership presence, though obviously Miller shares part of that now as well. Point being, even compared to the Denver offense, the Denver defense is a considerable force in the NFL.

Last year’s playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens was certainly not an indicator of Denver’s true potential. If it were not for Manning throwing an uncharacteristic interception from running outside the pocket and throwing across his body, we very well might have seen this Broncos team in the Super Bowl already.


Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos


The Seattle Seahawks are quite a force to be reckoned with these days. They have a multitude of weapons, but none so great as their defense. SBRForum.com ranks Seattle’s Defense at number one overall going into the 2013-2014 season (4). Cornerback Richard Sherman, after having only played one year in the NFL, caught 8 interceptions this past season, putting him at number three on the list of players with the most interceptions last year (2). The Seattle defense finished first in total points allowed (1). But these statistics don’t even do the Seahawks justice. There’s a reason they call their backfield the Legion of Boom. There’s a reason opponents fear the 12th man. Just look at what the Seahawks did to the San Francisco 49ers last season at home. Seahawks up 14-0, 49ers about to kick a field goal, and it gets blocked by Red Bryant and returned for a touchdown by Richard Sherman. That’s just an example of how explosive, threatening and athletic the Seattle Defense is. There are countless others from the season, including big hits, interceptions and forced fumbles, but I want to highlight more of Seattle than just its astounding defense.

Russell Wilson. Boy, talk about a good start to your NFL career. The same could be said about RGIII and Andrew Luck, but I’d place my money that this now sophomore QB will see a Super Bowl appearance before the other two. Going back to that home game against San Francisco last season, Wilson had 4 touchdowns and was 15/21 throwing. Pretty impressive he was facing a 49ers defense that was still considered by some to be the best in the NFL. We all know he’s a running QB, and that adds a lot of dynamic to the Seahawks offense, but I say don’t discount this kid from the pocket. NFL.com notes his QB rating at 100, and I think we will see a lot from him in the upcoming season.

As talented as Wilson may be, though, you don’t talk about a Seattle offense without Marshawn Lynch. Beast Mode activated. 315 carries this past season, the most of his career. 1,590 yards, the most of his career. 11 touchdowns, second most of his career. And the stat that you can’t see in the numbers: he runs over the defense. Anyone that has watched Lynch play knows that just because a defender gets to him doesn’t mean he’s going down. If you look at the last three games of the regular season last year, he never dipped below triple digits for rushing yards. That’s scary consistent in my book. So what will be the X factors this year? A sophomore QB that has proven himself, the addition of Percy Harvin and the belief that San Francisco isn’t making back-to-back Super Bowl trips. Marshawn Lynch has proven that he has the talent and drive to be a top tier running back in the NFL, and with nothing but confidence lying ahead of him, I think we’ll be looking at another career year for the stellar RB out of California.


Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks


Who will win the Super Bowl in 2014? The matchup will be amazing. Peyton Manning, the veteran, vs. Russell Wilson, the young gun. Marshawn Lynch, “beast mode”, vs. Von Miller and company. The Legion of Boom vs. Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker. This should be one for the ages. In the end, though, I think Seattle’s defense will be the edge needed to take down the Broncos.

Final Score: Seahawks, 28, Broncos 24.


Sources:

1.     NFL.com
2.     ESPN.com
3.     www.oddshark.com
4.     sbrforum.com 


                      Think I'm spot on? Disagree entirely? Comment below and let me know!

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