With the way the Seattle Seahawks‘ offense, specifically the passing game, has been struggling, the question must be asked; will they be able to keep up with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos‘ prolific offense?
Seattle won’t be facing the top ranked defense like the Broncos will, but that doesn’t mean the Broncos’ defense is full of schlubs. Broncos DT Terrance Knighton dominated in the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots. He consistently clogged up the middle of the line, and that is where the Patriots were having their most success with the power running game which had run for over 230 yards in two straight games. The Patriots only ran for 64 against Denver. Knighton also had a key fourth down sack of Tom Brady where he shot by his defender like a defensive end.
The Seahawks will struggle mightily if Knighton gets going in the Super Bowl as they lean on running back Marshawn Lynch. Lynch is a bull. He is the hardest running back to tackle in the league. Lynch had his most yards and only touchdown running behind the left guard last week, and that’s right where Knighton will be waiting to swallow him up. Lynch is the Seahawks’ main offfensive weapon, and teams have been loading the box trying to stop him. That makes it a lot tougher to run.
What doesn’t help the running game is the fact that Russell Wilson has been struggling as of late. Wilson didn’t play very well in the NFC Championship Game, a game in which he fumbled on the very first play. His offensive line hasn’t been very good and it has clearly affected him. Wilson ran all over the field in against the San Francisco 49ers, but it was usually backwards. Wilson cost the team huge chunks of yardage multiple times in that game. Though broken plays have worked for Wilson and the Seahawks in the past, he needs to trust his arm and his receivers instead of relying on scramble drills.
Weather will play a huge factor in this Super Bowl, but if the conditions aren’t like the blizzard we saw in Philadelphia in Week 14 of the regular season then these both these teams should be able to persevere. The Seahawks are better built for the weather that may present itself, but if it turns into a shootout and Manning is able to put up points on the Seahawks’ defense then Seattle will be in trouble. If they find themselves down 14 points, they’re going to need to throw to get back in it. That’s not how the Seahawks are built to play.
The Seahawks have to be ready with an offensive answer because the Broncos and Manning will put up points. They averaged 37.9 per game this season. The Seahawks have a talented secondary, but Richard Sherman can only cover one guy. Sherman will be wise to focus on the task at hand, though, as it may be his toughest of the season. He will have his hands full covering Demaryius Thomas, who is just as big and probably stronger than Sherman. He may also find himself against Eric Decker who is just as big and talented as Thomas. Both were 1,000-yard receivers in 2013. After listening to Sherman’s postgame interview last Sunday I think he’s up for the challenge.
If the Seahawks’ defense can’t stop the running game of the Broncos, can’t force a turnover and can’t get pressure on Manning then this game will be over long before the full 60 minutes is up. Luckily for Seahawks’ fans, they have shown in the past that they are very good at these three things, being ranked No. 7 in run defense, No. 1 in takeaways and tied for 8th in sacks in the NFL in 2013.
Percy Harvin’s return, however long it may be, will give the Seahawks the offensive spark they need. Will it be enough to keep up with Manning and his pals? Will the Seahawks’ defense win the classic battle of No. 1 defense vs. No. 1 offense? We’ll find out Feb. 2.