The ultimate question for me when it comes down to determining the outcome of Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos:  Is Russell Wilson capable of keeping pace with Peyton Manning?

If we were to just compare both quarterback’s 2013 stats side by side? No way.

BUT… if Seattle’s defense can put a dent in Manning’s armor and Russell Wilson elevates his game to an elite level, the Seahawks have a real chance to win this game.

First, let’s just review the juggernaut that was Denver’s offense this past year:

  • Averaged 37.9 points per game (1st);
  • 457.3 yards (1st);
  • 340.2 Pass yards (1st);
  • Total first downs (53, compared to opponents 32).

They also broke the following records:

  • Points – (606);
  • Touchdowns – (76);
  • Players with 10+ touchdowns: WRs Demaryius Thomas (14), Eric Decker (11), Wes Welker (10), and TE Julius Thomas (12); RB Knowshon Moreno (13).
  • Passing first downs – (293);
  • Games with 50+ points – (3) Tying the 1969 NFL record;
  • Points in 2nd half – (318);
  • Peyton Manning finished with 55 TDs;
  • Peyton Manning threw for 5,477 yards;
  • Longest field goal – Matt Prater kicked a 64-yard field goal in Week 14
  • Most Extra points – Matt Prater went 75-of-75 for the season, setting the records for most extra points, most extra points attempted, and most extra points without a miss.
  • Most four-touchdown passing games – (9);
  • Most two-touchdown passing games – (15);
  • Most 400-yard passing games – (4) Tied;
  • Most 90+ passer rating games – Manning (15).

Whew.  Those numbers are staggering.  It’s why I think Seattle will knock down the Denver offense, but not neutralize them completely.

Yes, Seattle was the #1 defense in the league last year.  They gave up the least points (14.4), least yards, were the best passing defense, and forced the most interceptions.  But, I just don’t see them stopping the Broncos offense dead in its tracks.

The most likely scenario is that the Seahawks defense will bring Manning and his offense down to Earth somewhat, at a level where they will have a chance to compete.

At that time, Russell Wilson & his offense will have to step up and go toe to toe with Peyton Manning & his offense – on the mat – shot for shot – touchdown for touchdown.

The issue herein lies with Seattle’s offense during the 2013 regular season.  While it performed capably, their stats were not in the same league as the Denver Broncos.

Specifically, Seattle’s overall offense during the regular season landed it middle of the road at 17th.  What worked well was the rush offense (4th), but not so much the passing (26th).   Russell Wilson’s Total QBR was also not great (58.9), compared to a season before when it was (71.7).

Compare that to Peyton Manning’s QBR this past year (82.9) and which has never been lower than (71.7, in 2010) since 2006.

Further, Russell Wilson scored only 26 passing touchdowns and 1 rushing touchdown during the 2013 regular season, while Peyton Manning scored 55 passing touchdowns and 1 rushing touchdown. Wait, Peyton rushed?

Seattle also only garnered 417 total points during the regular season compared to Denver’s 606.

Then there’s the post season. Denver actually scored more rushing points than Seattle. (50 vs. 46).  Seattle also had only 64 rushing attempts to Denver’s 62.  In fact, Denver’s 1st down rushing percentage was better than Seattle’s.

On the passing side, in the post season alone, Seattle came in last in passing yards/game, made the least passing attempts, and only had 1 passing touchdown in 2 games.  And, their passing completion was only 58.1%.

Compare that to Denver, which had the highest passing completion in the post season (72.2%), the 2nd most yards, and 4 passing touchdowns in 2 games.

It seems fair to suggest then, that Seattle has to try and make their offense more dynamic, particularly when Denver’s defense is not so elite.

Perhaps the Seahawks should start by not relying totally on the rush to score points.  Russell Wilson needs to step up and become more efficient when passing and make more attempts downfield to score more points to keep pace with Denver.

Also, it’s true that Marshawn Lynch is a madman and gets the job done, but the coaching staff will also need to let Wilson loose with the football and rush more into that end zone with his own legs to add a little more variety to the offense.

Finally, can we get the man some protection?!  Russell Wilson was sacked the 3rd most times in the regular season (44) and the most in the post season (7).  I’ll bet this has something to do with his lower passer rating compared to 2012 when he was only sacked (33) times in the reg season.

By the way, Peyton Manning was only sacked (18) times in the 2013 regular season and uh, (0) in the post season.  See how all that time can help?

In the end, it won’t be enough for Wilson to do the minimum.  It worked during the regular season, but playing against Peyton Manning will require him to elevate and lead his offense like the elite player he can be if Seattle stands a chance.

This will ring particularly true if Seattle’s defense falters and lets Peyton Manning and his offense go marching down the field with the ferocity and efficiency they did during the regular season.

Do I think the Seahawks will really do it?

Not if Peyton Manning has anything to say about it.

But, don’t count the Seahawks out just yet.

My not so bold prediction: Denver 38; Seattle 35.

Sources :

NFL Stats:

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