If defense wins, take Seattle

sports@macon.comFebruary 1, 2014 

It’s somewhat ironic that this Super Bowl falls on Groundhog Day. For one Sunday in each of the past 48 years, this country has been doing the same thing over and over, just like in the movie, whether they like football or not.

Of course, half the nation will not watch Seattle and Denver on Sunday. I guess the rest will be watching the Puppy Bowl or some “Law & Order” marathon on one of the many channels that great show is airing.

But most of us will be eating wings or chips and dip and drinking something while watching the most important game of the year. It’s what we sports fans do, whether we care about either of the two teams playing or not.

And when you don’t have a rooting interest in either team, you have that cliché that always seems appropriate: “Well, let’s just hope it’s a good game.”

Seattle and Denver should give us a good game. The Seahawks have the No. 1 defense and the Broncos have the No. 1 offense in the NFL. That certainly can’t be a recipe for a disappointment, can it?

It’s doubtful the Broncos are going to score 38 points on the Seahawks, which is what Denver averaged this season. And it is unlikely Seattle will hold the Broncos to only 14 points, which is how good the Seahawks defense was this year. We’ll probably have a score somewhere in the middle, and that’s where the intrigue begins.

The questions are easy to pinpoint. Will this be a battle of the running games -- with Knowshon Moreno for Denver and Marshawn Lynch for Seattle? Can Russell Wilson lead Seattle to a win if the Broncos do neutralize Lynch? And can the Seahawks defense force Peyton Manning to make mistakes?

Manning, of course, will be the featured player. He’s trying to define his legacy with a second Super Bowl victory. But he will be challenged by a Seahawks defense that has a swagger and doesn’t seem intimidated by anyone.

But can Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman remain calm and shut up enough to simply contain the receivers Manning will target? Sherman will be the best defender Manning has faced all year, and it’ll be interesting to see how Denver combats Sherman’s defensive ability in covering Demaryius Thomas and the other receivers.

That’s where Moreno comes in. If he has a good day, then that will just make Manning even more dangerous to open up the passing game.

But what happens if Wilson outperforms Manning? How shocking would that be? Wilson is only in his second season, but his poise has almost overshadowed his talent and helped Seattle get deep into the playoffs once again. The Broncos are going to try and force Wilson to make mistakes, but if he doesn’t get rattled Denver might be in trouble.

Don’t forget about Seattle head coach Pete Carroll. He won a championship in college at Southern Cal, and even though he’s looked at as a rah-rah coach, Carroll knows how to win big games. He has done wonders in his short time with the Seahawks.

If defense wins championships, Seattle is going to win this one. They have the players who can put pressure on Manning, and when he is under pressure Manning makes mistakes. The Broncos must keep Manning upright and protect him, or it might be a long day for a quarterback desperate to put another championship on his resume.

Take Seattle 34-24, but again, let’s just hope it’s one heck of a football game. We’ll need a good memory of a well-played game for when we’re missing the sport in a few months.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill at www.twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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