Welcome to the Super Bowl Broncos Country! We are one more game away from a championship after what has to be one of the best seasons of football I've ever watched. We've had an unstoppable offense, a team beset with significant injuries all season long, and have been doubted by what seems like everyone along the way.
The trip has been well worth it though...because here we are. AFC Champions...preparing to play in the biggest game of the year against an extremely dangerous opponent.
Let me pause for a second and make a confession. I am not a fan of the Denver Broncos. Not in the purest definition of the phrase. Fan is short for fanatic. I love my Broncos. I cheer like a crazy man for them during games. But you all know me...no bull to the core. So if you come here expecting me to bash Seattle senselessly and talk up our team like they are flawless gods of football who are a gift from on high, you have come to the wrong place.
I'm not afraid of calling it like I see it though, and that's what I'm going to do for everyone today. I'll give you my opinions on both teams and the different facets of the game that will define who wins the game. Feel free to chat it up in the comments...share with me where you differ or agree and let's talk football...because soon we'll be bereft of football for seemingly endless months of despair.
I may call it like I see it, but I do enjoy a little light-hearted trash talk, so we'll let the ladies go first:
Beast Mode Cometh
This offense starts and ends with Marshawn Lynch as far as its ability to function. Shut him down and you really can bring this offense to a screeching halt.
- First of all, that is easier said than done. Lynch is the kind of back I've wanted in Denver for ages: powerful, difficult to tackle, and a force to be reckoned with.
- It isn't his focus, but the dude can catch out of the backfield and gets great yardage when he does.
- His play sets up fantastic play action opportunities for their offense.
The Passing Attack
Russell Wilson strikes me as comparable to Tim Tebow (I apologize for this Seattle fans...I know it is an insult, but it fits to well...hear me out though), albeit a superior QB prospect than our beloved Timmy. Their WRs are more speedy and deep-ball centric than they are physical.
- The big problem Wilson presents is his ability to scramble. He can deeply hurt a team if his is able to break contain.
- His down-field passing is very good (again...I always said this same thing about Tebow). The long ball is where Seattle wants to be in their passes and this kid has the goods to let his WRs go get the ball.
- Seattle has the speed to hit big plays against our secondary. They look to flat out beat your guys on a 9 route in many cases.
I don't know where the heck they got all this talent, but man is this team loaded with depth up front. Not only that, but they impress me with their blend of speed and power.
- If they get to do their normal rotations we will be in a ton of trouble. They typically swap guys out to match up well verses the situation.
- A big key to this game is going to be the coverage ability of their LBs on Julius Thomas or Jacob Tamme.
If this unit doesn't worry you, then you probably don't know much about secondary play in the NFL. Let's leave it at that. This unit is not just Richard Sherman and a bunch of also-plays, but is about a unit that from top to bottom plays physically and aggressively in order to get your offense out of their element.
- I don't know why, but the refs let this team get away with illegal contact far more than any other team I've watched when they are playing press coverage (see below). They ride people 6-7 yards instead of the 5 stated in the rule book. I'm curious to see if this continues to be allowed on the big stage or not (and I think either way our team should still be able to win).
- Seattle doesn't use as much press coverage as you may think...sure there typically is one or two of them on every play using it, but they've also successfully ran off coverage zone schemes to perfection (especially in the back half of the season in obvious passing downs).
- I love that this team hits hard and aggressively on the field...legally. It is the type of secondary play we have in spots (Duke Ihenacho, Champ Bailey), but not all over the field.
This is where I think Seattle is going to be in for a surprise. When I look at our front seven vs Seattle's O-line and backs, I start to drool a little bit. Our strengths look very good matched up with Seattle's inconsistent line.
- I will be surprised if we don't constantly generate pressure on Wilson during obvious passing situations. Our guys should be looking to collapse the pocket around him if that's what the plan is.
- Speaking of which, we may actually do what we did vs Philly and not really shoot gaps for our pass rush. You will know that is the plan if you see us form a pocket around Wilson, then take our time to collapse it.
- JDR is bat-ish crazy if he doesn't assign Woodyard or Trevathan as a spy on Wilson.
- I can't name one guy on our line that is going to have a big game, because they all work well as a unit and as we've seen all playoffs the pressure comes from everywhere.
- I sure do miss Von Miller though...get well soon Von!
Here is the facet of our defense I am actually worried about. Can our guys cover down the field? Are our safeties going to bite on play action and cost us 7?
- I don't doubt our CB's ability to handle the WRs. DRC, Carter, and Champ are more than capable of running with their guys.
- Speaking of that, I think this is a huge opportunity for Tony Carter to shine. He has the man-to-man goods and he will not face a better chance to showcase his man coverage skills.
- Just because we have the cats who can cover man on man the 7 - 9 routes doesn't mean our safeties can slack. Mike Adams should be our deep safety and in spots Duke Ihenacho should be way back as well. Rahim Moore should review film from last year's playoff loss to make sure they understand their jobs and proper coverage techniques.
Let's get the run game out of the way early. I don't think it is going to be the key component of the day. I think like in our wins it will be a complimentary piece that makes the engine run.
- I have full confidence that Montee Ball and Knowshon Moreno can average 4 yards per carry unless something goes very wrong.
- As always situations will dictate runs. Thanks to Seattle's less than well-rounded front 4, We most likely will see situations where they are either forced to give us an easy 4 yards or bring an 8th man into the box.
The Most Interesting Facet of the Game
Seattle plays the kind of defense that has given us trouble during the season. They are better than any defense we have faced. Here's something to think about though: We've faced every possible counter to our offense and some defenses that play very similarly to Seattle (Indy comes to mind though they are missing a key piece or two).
- Patience is the major key in this match-up. Peyton Manning absolutely must NOT force things. Take what they give you...it is unlikely their offense will put a bunch of points up.
- Julius Thomas is most likely going to have a big day. I don't see Seattle as being able to cover him consistently.
- The other cat that could go off in a big way is Welker. I'd actually love to see him and JT running rubs for each other against Seattle...this would be very difficult personnel for them to cover.
- Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker may not have huge games, but they are too good to be held to nothing...eventually coverage will break down and these guys will get some big plays (hopefully ED doesn't tackel himself for a third time).
- I also think we could see a lot of good gains from screens and flat routes from the backfield.
- Seattle will want to establish the run game early to set up big plays. They can easily score 30 on us if this happens.
- I am betting we see about three trick plays (flea flickers, end arounds, reverses, fake run) from Seattle and I would absolutely do so to try and take advantage of Denver's weaknesses.
- If Denver doesn't put a spy on Wilson, look for some designed QB runs to have success.
- It can't be stated enough that mistakes are Denver's biggest enemies. They need to play patiently and take what they can get consistently without taking too many risks (this is what they have done in the playoffs to date honestly).
- Anything could happen, but I don't see Seattle scoring more than 17 points from their offense unless our defense completely falls apart.
- Win or lose, this should be a fantastic Super Bowl to watch. I wish health to all the players on the field and safe fun for all watching! GB2