Peyton Manning

After two weeks of fucking around, Super Bowl XLVIII is finally here. And so we’re here with one final prediction of the 2013 NFL season. Seattle Seahawks. Denver Broncos. Here’s who we got.

Shawn: Last year I really didn’t care who won the Super Bowl just as long as some Harbaugh lost.

This year I have a little more of a horse in the race. I’ll be pulling for the Denver Broncos, and here’s why.

1.  I have been a “Denver is my second team” kind of guy since the days of John Elway, Sammy Winder, and Karl Mecklenberg. With the Packers wallowing in mediocrity until my high school days and the brief glory of 1989, at least I had the Broncos going for me every year until they’d reach the Super Bowl, which back then is where every AFC team went to get humiliated. Ironically, of course, Elway and the Broncos would end up breaking the AFC curse in the one Super Bowl I was decidedly pulling against them. Jerkoffs.

2. I am a half-hearted Peyton Manning fan. Much of that fandom is actually media generated. I started pulling for the guy after members of the media swore that Ryan Leaf would be the better player — I’m looking at you, Jim Rome. After that didn’t pan out so well, the media changed their tune to the infamous “can’t win the big game” label, which virtually every star gets saddled with until they actually do win the “big” game — see John Elway, Phil Mickelson and Lebron James to name  just a notorious few. Like many, I take pleasure in seeing the media proven wrong, and that is essentially my basis in Manning fandom. Since the media pretty universally loves the guy now, I guess I could go the other way, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Manning get one more ring before fading off into the sunset. Please.

3. A Denver Broncos’ victory likely means a more interesting game.

4. And last but not least, of course, is the Seattle Seahawks themselves — their PED-fueled swagger, their boring brand of football, and their head cheerleader — Pete Carroll.

This should be great news to Seattle fans since the Broncos’ record in Super Bowls where I actually pull for them is 1-3.

Now, if I was betting the game, I would take the points and Seattle. Personally, I think Seattle should be favored to win this game.

In a match-up of a great defense with a great offense, I believe the offense has the advantage if it is balanced. That makes the Broncos running game as possibly the big difference-maker in this game. The Seahawks have struggled at times against straight-ahead runners, and if Knowshon Moreno and Monte Ball can do some damage, it totally changes the game.

Another match-up that favors the Broncos is in the running game on the other side of the ball. The Seahawks like to pound you and then throw it over the top. The Broncos have been sad against the pass all year, but steady against the run. If they can bring Marshawn Lynch to a grinding halt, then the entire offense is on the shoulders of Russell Wilson and a non-prolific passing game.

Still, my feeling is that the Seahawks, to their credit, are an old school team who are getting the benefit of playing a Super Bowl out in the elements. Their style of simply being more physical than the other team suits the weather better than the Broncos’ reliance on execution and finesse. The Seahawks have the kind of physical cover guys and outside pass rushers to give the Broncos passing attack fits.

Seattle will look to get stops and then lean on the opponent until they break. That is the defensive way of winning football games. It’s often not pretty, but it works, especially when championships are on the line.

Seattle puts away a defensive game with a late score after a turnover. I’ll take Seattle and the under.

Seahawks 24, Broncos 13

Monty: During the first week of the lead-up to the Super Bowl, I was all about the Seattle Seahawks. Defense wins championships, as we’ve all heard a million times.

Seattle has a defense that’s been compared to the 1985 Bears (although I’d argue that the Seahawks are not in the same neighborhood) and the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. What about the 1962 Green Bay Packers?

Oh, right. No one in the media has any knowledge of the game of football prior to 1980.

Anyway, history has shown us a game as big as this usually does favor the better defense.

Then this week rolled around and I started to think about the way the Denver Broncos attack defenses.

First, yes, Seattle has the best corner in the game right now in Richard Sherman. He can only cover one guy though.

The Broncos never have more than one guy in the backfield, which means Seattle’s base defense isn’t going to be on the field. Their nickel or dime is.

And let’s think about Denver’s weapons in the passing game for a second. Demaryius Thomas. Eric Decker. Julius Thomas. Wes Welker.

Any one of those four can change a game. So let’s say Sherman is covering Demaryius Thomas. Byron Maxwell will match-up with another outside receiver, which puts someone like Jeremy Lane on Welker in the slot. It also likely puts a safety on Julius Thomas.

I, and I suspect, Peyton Manning likes three of those four match-ups just fine.

Manning will find the match-up he likes at the line and take advantage of it. And he’ll do it quickly. The guy is releasing the ball in less than two seconds in most instances. The doesn’t give the Seahawks the time to put the pressure on Manning they absolutely have to have.

I know he’s choked in big games in the past, and I’ve been talking up the “Manning is not a big-game player” theory all through the playoffs. He’s proven me wrong so far and I expect him to do it again.

Manning is playing the best football of his career and he has just too many weapons for Seattle to contain.

So, Peyton gets me and everyone else off his back.

Broncos 24, Seahawks 17