It’s Super Bowl Sunday which means that everyone will be talking about one thing in the office on Monday morning. And it probably won’t be Bruno Mars’ performance with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
To make sure you’re in the know for tonight’s game, the Paddy Power Blog’s very own Rob Dore has put together a swanky infographic including loads of stats for you to read, remember and then impress your friends with over a few tins tonight.
Pete Carroll’s impressive defensive secondary, labelled the Legion of Boom, are ready to live up to their billing in the MetLife Stadium clash against the awesome Denver offence led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning.
- It’s only the fifth Super Bowl showdown between the league’s top-ranked offence and defence in terms of points per game and history is on the Seahawks’ side as the defensive team won three of those four previous clashes.
The teams head to New Jersey with identical records of 15 wins and three defeats this season (including play-offs) but few would dispute that Seattle have come through the tougher half of the draw. Their post-season victories over New Orleans and San Francisco read better than the Broncos’ wins over San Diego – the third-placed team in the AFC West – and a New England side who lost a key defensive player, cornerback Aqib Talib, to injury early in the second quarter.
The Patriots simply didn’t have the depth to stop Manning and his classy receiving corps of DeMaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker and tight end Julius Thomas, but if anyone can thwart them it will be Seattle’s secondary featuring outspoken cornerback Richard Sherman.
Bring the winter woolies
Much has been made of the weather forecast ever since the big game was awarded to New Jersey, but the prospect of a snowy Super Bowl has receded and temperatures could be as high as 5C. That will be a comfort to Manning, who has an 8-11 record outdoors when it’s below 40F, but it doesn’t change his career play-off record of nine wins in 20 games. Even so a second Super Bowl ring would surely silence any doubters of the regular-season superstar who threw a record 55 touchdowns this year and a modest four more in the play-offs.
When Seattle have the ball, the focus will all be on running back Marshawn Lynch, who is clear 5-1 favourite to score the first touchdown. That price is a result of Denver spreading the ball around so much and Seattle’s run-first policy – the Seahawks and 49ers were the only two teams in an increasing pass-happy league to call more running plays than passes.
Denver’s defence has tightened in recent weeks.
- They conceded 399 points – more than ten per game more than Seattle – in the regular season, but have limited their last four opponents to 17 or fewer.
- The Seahawks are capable of topping that figure, though, and second-season quarterback Russell Wilson could be successful launching long passes against the suspect Denver secondary in which veteran Champ Bailey is now the second cornerback behind Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Wilson will be delighted to see wide receiver Percy Harvin practising at full speed after an injury-hit first campaign for Seattle and he could provide the X-Factor to get them over the line, perhaps even with a running play or kick-off return. Harvin looks a sneaky piece of value at 33-1 in the Most Valuable Player market.
The man-of-the-match award has gone to the winning quarterback in six of the last seven seasons, and only QBs and wide receivers have won it in the ten years since Tampa Bay safety Dexter Jackson bagged it for his two interceptions against Oakland.
If Denver win, it’s difficult to see anyone other than Manning being responsible, but Wilson is not a shoo-in if the Seahawks succeed, with Lynch and their defensive stars also candidates along with whichever receiver makes a key play.