(Editor’s note: This is Bryson’s fifth draft, and every draft has a new winner. Stay tuned for more flip-flopping)
Before we get to football analysis, let’s do some housecleaning. Van Gundy alumnus James Littlejohn produces a hilarious series of YouTube videos called Mr. Forthright. Their most recent video was about the Super Bowl, and I think you should check it out.
Okay, let’s get to it. So far these playoffs I am 7-3. Whoever I go with in this article, I am planning on going to Vegas and betting my life savings on them. Wish me luck!
Broncos versus Seahawks
This really has been the year of Peyton Manning. Therefore, in making my Super Bowl, I’ve really just thought a lot about what I think of him as a quarterback, leader, person, and lover. Just kidding — I didn’t think about him as a person.
As good as Manning’s been this year, however, it’s hard to ignore the fact that he has a .500 record in the playoffs, and he is 0-4 in playoff games played under 40 degrees (8-13 in games under 40 degrees when you count the regular season). The weather forecast for Sunday’s Super Bowl is a high of 36 degrees.
Here’s the part where you may want to point out that the Broncos’ offense this year is historically good, so it doesn’t really matter how cold it is in New York on Sunday. Right? Stop talking to your screen. The Seahawks defense is historically good, too. They’re easily the leagues best scoring defense, and Manning has a bad history of playing the leagues best scoring defense in the playoffs. Twice before he has done just that, and in those two games he has one touchdown and six interceptions.
As of this writing, the Broncos are three point favorites. And every indication I keep getting from Broncos fans is that they are very confident. Even though history tells us that when the league’s best offense plays the league’s best defense, the best defense has better odds of winning. Even though we all know Manning isn’t the same guy in the cold (or the playoffs). And even though Richard Sherman may or may not rip out Wes Welker’s spleen and eat it at midfield (followed by a well written and thoughtful apology). Despite all that, the line is still three points. And I’m pretty sure this is because of the Manning mystique.
The good news for Seahawks fans is that in five of the last six years those who gambled on the underdogs have won. And something tells me the team that shattered the previous record for steroid suspensions in one season isn’t above trying to snap the neck of the opposing quarterback with a history of neck injuries. Football: Where broken necks can be good news!
In fact, as far as I am concerned, the Seahawks are better on paper, period. Look, it’s all over the internet.
But there’s that whole Manning thing. This really has felt like his year … Never mind that he has broken the record for most yards in a season during a season when his team ran the ball a lot in blowouts. Never mind that he also broke the record for most touchdowns in a season, and easily too. Never mind that he’s cut his commercials back by 8000%. Never mind all that. It’s the types of plays he’s getting away with. Anyone who has watched the Broncos this year knows what I’m talking about. This year, Manning has thrown more awful ducks that were caught for big plays than anyone in history. His passes float like a birthday balloon, yet keep landing exactly in his receivers’ arms. Peyton Manning is already amazing in a typical year, but this year he seems to get every lucky break on top of everything else.
In an earlier article, I pointed out that every year the NFL seems to have one team of destiny. I just assumed that since these teams have come from lower seeds in the past few years, that this year would yield the same result. Because the NFL has so much parity, and because the Broncos have been so highly rated all year, I’ve just assumed they would stumble somewhere along the way. It’s just been too obvious!
But isn’t that the way Manning needs it? We know how meticulous this guy is with everything he does to prepare for football games. He prepares perhaps more than any other player in league history. (Even though he, unlike Richard Sherman, did NOT go to Stanford. Weird, I know.) Manning is a guy who famously carries a binder around with him everywhere he goes when he hosts Saturday Night Live. Whereas most hosts take notes from the writers and producers as they come without much thought, Manning writes everything down in his little comedy binder.
Peyton Manning is not a guy who likes to improvise. He likes to be the favorite, and he likes there to be no surprises. He doesn’t prefer to scramble outside of the pocket and make something out of nothing. He likes a script, with lots of notes. This season has been scripted perfectly for him from the beginning, and if Manning is ever going to win another title, it makes sense that it would come about this way.
As much as I would love to see somebody like Russell Wilson win the title, and as much as I would love to see the city of Seattle finally have a reason to show some interest in their football team, I just can’t ignore the feeling that this has been the year of Peyton Manning. Everything will come down to how well he plays. If he plays his game, the Broncos win. If not, they lose. Simple as that.
The question is: Do you think we’ll get regular season Peyton Manning, or will we get cold playoff game Peyton Manning? Let me answer this question by reminding you that January 31, 2014 rang in the Chinese New Year. And what year is it, exactly, by the Chinese calendaring system? THE YEAR OF THE HORSE! Horse = Bronco = It’s meant to be. Right? Wrong. I’m not from China.
The pick: Seahawks 28 Broncos 24