Not familiar with the Seattle Seahawks or Denver Broncos? Only going to your friend’s Super Bowl party for the snacks? Don’t worry — here’s everything you need to know about each team, plus some final score predictions from the DFP sports staff.
Regular Season: 13-3 overall record
How they got to the Super Bowl:
The Seahawks, as the top overall seed in the NFC Western Division— fueled by a dynamic running game and the NFL’s best defense — earned a first-round bye and met the fifth-seeded New Orleans Saints in the divisional round. The Seahawks jumped out to a 16-0 lead, but the Saints fought back. They came within eight points twice, but an illegal forward pass by Saints running back Marques Colston in the dwindling seconds to end the game allowed Seattle to exhale, giving the Seahawks a 23-15 win and a berth in the NFC Championship Game.
But in order to advance to the Super Bowl, the Seahawks had to beat their biggest enemy — the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead, but a field goal right before half and a Marshawn Lynch touchdown five minutes into the third quarter tied things up. Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick connected with wide receiver Anquan Boldin for a touchdown shortly thereafter, but a field goal and a touchdown from Seahawks QB Russell Wilson to wide receiver Jermaine Kearse gave the Seahawks the lead for good. The 49ers attempted to stay in it, though. On Kaepernick’s attempt at winning the game, cornerback Richard Sherman tipped a pass intended for 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree into the hands of Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith to end the game and give Seattle an exhilarating 23-17 win.
Players to Watch:
Loudmouthed corner Richard Sherman has divided America — confident or cocky? You’ve all seen the interview— but he has the stats to back up his talk. He led the NFC in interceptions this year, with eight.
Marshawn Lynch has also made headlines with the opposite problem — he is succinct with the media — but has quietly been the difference-maker for the Seahawks. He has had 249 rushing yards in the postseason, the most of any player, and tied for the most rushing TDs in the NFL during the regular season (12).
Doug Baldwin isn’t quite as talked-about as Lynch or Sherman, but the wide receiver has been reliable this postseason, including three receptions for 20+ yards. His quarterback doesn’t pass to him often — only 10 times this postseason — but Baldwin has been there nearly every time, catching eight of those attempts.
Regular Season: 13-3 overall record
How they got to the Super Bowl: Future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Peyton Manning led the best passing game in the NFL to the top seed in the AFC Western Division. Ever since Manning was cut from the Indianapolis Colts and signed with the Broncos, Denver’s offense has been a powerhouse and a threat to win it all. Last year the Broncos lost in heartbreaking fashion to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens on a final-minute “Hail Mary” from Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco.
Opening night this season the Broncos had some chance for vengeance against those same Ravens. In that game, Manning and the Broncos not only beat the Ravens, but absolutely manhandled them. Denver put up 49 points, which included an amazing 7 touchdown passes from Manning. The Broncos kept this prolific offense up through the entire season, and with an amazing core of receivers, Manning set the record for most touch down passes in a season with 55.
Rolling into the playoffs with just three losses, the Broncos earned a first-round bye, and eventually took on the San Diego Chargers in the AFC Divisional Round. Although the Chargers made a second half push, the Broncos held on for a 24-17 win.
The next week in the AFC Championship game, long awaited matchup of Manning versus New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady happened. Manning threw for 400 yards, the Denver defense kept the pressure on Brady all game and the Broncos were able to advance to its first Super Bowl since John Elway was quarterback (1998 season).
Players to watch: It is no secret that the key to the Denver offense is Manning. With one of his best seasons, if not his best, he runs an impressive show that rivals the 1999 St. Louis Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf” offense. While Manning has been slinging the ball with accuracy and efficiency all year, there is more to Denver than the quarterback.
Without the amazing receiving core of Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas, Manning would have not had the numbers he did. Those four each had at least 10 touchdowns this season, proving to be headaches for many defenses. Welker was concussed recently, so it should be interesting to see what kind of factor he plays in the game.
While running back Knowshon Moreno’s pregame emotions have been well documented, he’s quietly had a career year as the team’s starting running back, posting over 1,000 rushing yards and recording 10 touchdown runs.
FINAL SCORE PREDICTIONS:
Andrew (Sports Editor): 23-14 Seahawks. Even with Denver’s prolific offense, Seattle’s defense will be strong, and will stop Peyton Manning. The combination of Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch will be too much and the Seahawks should prevail.
Michael Joscelyn (Women’s basketball writer): 24-20 Denver. Seattle’s defense and running game will make this extremely tough on the Broncos but in the end I think it’s Peyton Manning’s game to lose. If the Denver defense can’t slow down Marshawn Lynch, that score may just be flipped around.
Kevin Dillon (Men’s hockey writer and Sports Editor, Fall 2012): Denver 19-17. The cold weather forces Denver to rely on Knowshon Moreno and the short passing game, which means a lot of Matt Prater field goals. His fourth and final one is a last-second game-winner, as Champ Bailey and the underrated Denver defense hold off the Seahawks offense just enough.
Conor Ryan (Associate Sports Editor, Fall 2013): 24-17 Seattle. Lynch runs through Denver’s defense and Peyton can’t handle the cold weather or Seattle’s secondary. Wilson gets SB MVP but hands it to Tom Brady as a lifetime achievement award. All is well.
Meredith Perri (Men’s hockey writer and Sports Editor, Spring 2012): Can I just predict that regardless of the score all you will hear about for a week afterward is Peyton Manning and Richard Sherman, not necessarily in that order?
Jackie Bamberger (Associate Sports Editor): 28-24 Seahawks. But I predict that no matter the score, Sarah [Kirkpatrick] will be in tears after the game.
Sarah (Editor-in-chief): I’m a diehard Seahawks fan, so I’m not going to make any predictions. I don’t want to jinx anything.