Super Bowl XLVIII will feature the proverbial battle of the unstoppable force against the immovable object-the Denver Broncos offense pitted against the Seattle Seahawks defense.
Denver, led by Peyton Manning, finished the season as the leader in total yards and points behind Manning’s record 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards passing.
On the other side of the ball, the Seahawks defense led the league in fewest yards and points allowed per game.
The matchup gets more intriguing when involving the front seven of Seattle against the Broncos offensive line.
Manning has not been sacked in the postseason, but Seattle leads the teams in the postseason with seven sacks.
It’s a dream matchup for every football fan. It’s the No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense; it’s the professional, business-like Manning against the outspoken, trash-talking Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman.
The numbers suggest that Seattle will emerge from Super Bowl as champions.
The No. 1 defense has played in the Super Bowl 11 times, earning a 8-3 record, but in 14 appearances, the No. 1 offense is just 8-6 in the big game.
The only time the No. 1 offense and No. 1 defense met in the Super Bowl was in 2002. The Oakland Raiders offense went up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense.
In that case it was the defense that pulled through, scoring more touchdowns than the Oakland offense could muster.
This is the matchup everyone will be watching, but it will not be the key to the game.
That’s the opposite matchup: the Seahawks offense against the Broncos defense.
Denver’s defense finished 19th in the NFL in total defense this season, giving up 356 yards per game. Seattle’s offense finished 17th, gaining 339 yards per game.
However, since the postseason began, the Seahawks offense took a step back and is averaging only 292.5 yards per game.
Conversely, the Broncos defense improved in the postseason, giving up 289.5 yards per game.
Despite playing in three games this season, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has thrown for just 318 yards. That puts him in ninth place among the 12 starting quarterbacks who played in the postseason.
In the AFC Championship, Manning threw for 400 yards which is more than Wilson has thrown the entire postseason.
Wilson completed 58.1 percent of his passes and threw for a touchdown, but his lack of production offensively will seriously deter his team’s chance at a championship.
The biggest chance Seattle has at winning its first Super Bowl in team history will be keeping Manning off the field.
That won’t bode well for the Seahawks. Wilson needs to keep the chains moving on every drive to give the Seahawks a chance.
The formula to beating the Broncos is simple: keep the ball out of Manning’s hand. That’s a lot easier said than done because the Broncos lost only three games this season.
Wilson needs to end his cold spell on Sunday, which could be difficult in 40-degree projected temperatures at MetLife Stadium.
He’ll need to put drives together, even if the Seahawks only end up with field goals.
The Denver defense against the Seattle offense will determine the outcome of the game.
It’s the bruising, yet quiet Marshawn Lynch against the tough, quietly productive Denver run defense, which allowed 101.6 yards rushing this season, which is eighth in the league; it’s the struggling Russell Wilson against a susceptible Broncos secondary, which allowed 254.4 yards passing per game, sixth worst in the league.
In the end, the Super Bowl is going to come down to Wilson’s play.
If he struggles, the offense will struggle. If he succeeds, the team will succeed.
If Wilson is unable to keep drives going, Seattle’s defense will suffer. It doens’t matter how good the Seattle defense is, Manning will find a way to beat the defense.
T.J. Brennan is a senior journalism major from Long Island, N.Y. He can be reached at email@example.com.