Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

‘A Unique Day And Night’

Peyton Manning knows what's on the line. So does Seattle's defense. Something's gotta give in Super Bowl XLVIII. Peter King makes his pick

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — So the theories have abounded all week. No. 1 offense against No. 1 defense, for only the fifth time in 48 Super Bowls, and how would Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase and quarterback Peyton Manning handle the borderline impenetrable Seattle secondary?

That’s the key to Super Bowl XLVIII. Not the weather, which should be relatively mild for the first Sunday in February. And not the running game, at least not the way I see it. Unless Marshawn Lynch dominates both the time of possession and the Denver front seven and holds Manning to seven or eight possessions, I think the world is going to see what it wants to see: Peyton Manning succeeding or failing on his merits, and all the legacy-seekers getting their way. If Manning figures a way to handle a secondary he’s never played against, Denver wins. If the Legion of Boom trumps Manning and turns him over two or three times, Seattle wins.

I got Manning on Thursday morning for a few minutes, alone, after his final media availability before the game. We stood in the hallway leading from his press briefing to the Denver hotel here, across the Hudson River from Manhattan, and I tried to divine clues about how he’d attack Seattle. He’s much too smart to give anything away, but I did get the distinct impression he will test everyone in the secondary, and not shy away from the dangerous Richard Sherman or Kam Chancellor.

“You talk to other people around the league,’’ Manning said. “You talk to some teams that have played against them, some quarterbacks and coaches, and you might take some suggestions … ‘Hey, this is not a good route to throw on Sherman. We did not want to do that route.’ You know, whatever that is. And then you form your opinion as you watch it.

“At the same time, you have to do the things that got you here. So there are certain things that have worked well for us. You feel like you have to do them. I mean, Demaryius Thomas is on the right side a lot. Richard Sherman plays left corner a lot. You can’t just not try to get the ball to Demaryius. It’s not like you can’t throw his way, because you’ve got to try to get the ball to Demaryius if he’s over there. I think playing Sherman, he demands precision.’’

Sherman and Chancellor are 6-foot-3. Chancellor is as physical a strong safety as there is in football now. Sherman is as crafty a corner as there is in football. “Length’’ has always been a basketball term. The Seahawks might be making it a football term as well.

“There’s no question you have to account for that,’’ Manning said. “For instance, Sherman’s interception in the [NFC] Championship Game—that was a length play. The throw was a little short, but that’s a play that a lot of corners wouldn’t make. It was a play that he has made all season, because he’s long. And the fact that the linebacker was hustling to be right there—it was a true team play. Like you said, Chancellor is a physical guy that is around the box. Whoever is blocking him, a receiver or a lineman, you have to be ready, because he is coming downhill.’’

This is where the Denver imagination comes in, if you ask me. Manning and Gase took such pride in the AFC title game in doing odd things to frustrate the New England defense, such as Virgil Green, a backup tight end, running the ball from scrimmage for his first rush attempts in 48 NFL games. Of Manning’s big four—Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker—through 18 games, Manning has spread the wealth incredibly evenly.Take a look:

D. Thomas: 107 catches, 1,618 yards, 16 TDs
Decker: 94, 1,393, 11
Welker: 83, 854, 11
J. Thomas: 79, 949, 12

I’ve got a feeling if Denver wins, fourth receiver Andre Caldwell or second tight end Jacob Tamme is going to be a headline player coming out of the game. Manning has to be thinking: In five-receiver sets, somebody has to be open.

“I was receivers coach in 2009 here,’’ Gase said Thursday morning. “I remember the game when Brandon Marshall had 21 catches. Late in the game, I’m looking around and our other receivers are like, Am I even in the game?

I looked up that game in 2009, against Indy—and Peyton Manning. Marshall was targeted 28 times that game by quarterback Kyle Orton. Combined total of the four leading receivers on the team after Marshall: eight targets.

“You learn as you grow in this league,” Gase said. “One thing I learned from coaching under Mike Martz [in Detroit eight years ago] is emphasizing five men running full speed on every pass route. If you have every guy understanding that, you know that eventually it’ll be time for everyone. Because Peyton is going to go to the guy who’s open.’’

Gase said only once this year has he emphasized to Manning to get the ball to a certain receiver—that was Demaryius Thomas at halftime of the game at Dallas in October. Thomas had no catches in the first half, and Gase wanted to get him going. Manning hit him on the first play of the third quarter. “Otherwise,’’ said Gase, “he doesn’t care who he throws to.”

“I’m glad to be here because it means we have a chance to win the championship,” Manning said. “I think that Sunday is gonna be a unique day—unique day and night.”

Which is why I think Tamme or Caldwell could come up big. Two veteran receivers, supplementing the starters against such a physical secondary, could come in very handy.

So now we wait. Two-and-a-half days away, and it’s all over but the weather-watching. Should be much nicer than we thought.

Said Manning: “I remember when they announced that the Super Bowl was going to be here, of course everyone was talking about the weather. I mean, hey, it’s gonna be what it’s gonna be. Mentally, I’m prepared for it and I think our team is prepared for it. I think playing in Denver for the past two years has helped me. Playing in more elements than I did in Indianapolis on a daily basis. But I knew at the time, I said, ‘Boy, that’s gonna be special for the two teams that have a chance to play in it.’ To be on one of the teams playing in this Super Bowl, I feel honored. I feel privileged. I’m glad to be here because it means we have a chance to win the championship. I think that Sunday is gonna be a unique day—unique day and night.’’

I don’t want to jinx it. But I think we’ve got a classic coming. At least I hope we do. My pick: Denver, 27-24, because of the multiplicity of weapons at Manning’s disposal. But nothing will surprise me Sunday.

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156 comments
mwr5053
mwr5053

How did people not see how a healthy Percy Harvin would make such a difference for Seattle? 

JohnSlyfield
JohnSlyfield

Well he was correct in guessing that 51 points would be scored.....

BillHeinsonSr.
BillHeinsonSr.

I have been wanting to ask this since I first read your prediction:
Mr. King, in light of tonights game, do you have anything to say now?

Jon8
Jon8

Denver 27-24, well that didn't happen!

benoldtoys
benoldtoys

Bruno Mars, the star of the half time show, claims to have been born

in Hawaii.  However, NFL & Homeland Security officials are wary of the 

"birth certificate" his people provided.  There is a suspicion that he may

actually be from Kenya and an anti-colonialist. I just thought the colonialists

in the stands should know. 

PunkinBozo
PunkinBozo

Hello Mr. King

Your article is severely limited. Its Manning and Denver’s Offense against Seattle’s Defense. But there is much more than the one aspect you talk about. I see 4 elements to this game. Yes there is the Denver Offense against the Seattle Defense but there is also Seattle’s Offense against the Denver Defense, Seattle’s Special Teams against Denver’s Special Teams, and then there is the Coaching staff of each team.

#1 Denver’s Offense against #1 Seattle’s Defense – Advantage: Push

Denver’s Offense will win many of the battles but the Defense will also win many of the battles. I do not see injuries affecting either team. I see the Offense getting 21 to 24 points in this game. But I also see the Defense getting 2 or 3 turnovers.

#8 Seattle’s Offense against #22 Denver’s Defense – Advantage: Seattle

There is a clear advantage with Seattle’s Offense. Ranked #8 without Harvin, Seattle’s Offense could get scary with him. I do see injuries affecting this aspect of the game. Seattle is nearly full strength with the only major loss being Sidney Rice but Harvin is much better player. Denver Defense has lost its best player, Von Miller. I see Seattle scoring 35-43 points (with a little help from their Defense).

Special Teams – Advantage: Seattle

Seattle’s Special Teams has been one of the best in the league this year.

Coaching – Advantage: Push

Both teams have excellent coaching staffs.

I see Seattle having a distinct advantage in this game.

BB2
BB2

Peter has always been a big Manning fan. I've always rooted against him and his brother, but can certainly admit that Peyton is an all-time great QB. Peter is also the author of this column where he gets to say whateverthehell he wants.... 


The real key though... while the matchup in the secondary is big, the real killer areas will be underneath where the RB and Welker will be playing. Manning loves that area when his receivers are being well covered.  the Seattle inside LBs need to stay home to cover those routes, while staying aggressive enough in the run. 


jeebs
jeebs

Wow- way to turn the wonderfully team-oriented sport of football into the NBA. One guy holds the fate of this game? I can't agree.

Buck2185
Buck2185

Peter, just a few short weeks ago, being your usual grossly biased self, you picked NE to beat Denver and that Denver couldn't hold up to the NE running game. Now, Denver is playing a better running team, the Seahawks, yet you are now picking Denver to win. What is up with that?? Perhaps you are still in a heavy state of distraught and confusion over your Patriots not being in the show. Grab your Patriot Blanky and Binky and enjoy the game today......

JBub
JBub

An interesting article about Peyton Manning and the Broncos! What may win it, though is Special Teams play --assuming the best Offense against the best Defense is a wash. And the edge goes unquestionably to Seattle.

rafafan3
rafafan3

KING BADLY WANTS MANNING TO WIN TO JUSTIFY HIS BIASED PICK FOR THE 2013 SI SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR.


PEYTON HAD A GREAT SEASON BUT DID NOT DESERVE THAT AWARD, HERE IS FOR HIM TO FLOP ....GO SEAHAWKS!!!!

ChingCalibo
ChingCalibo

Seattle Seahawks vs Denver Broncos will square off at Super Bowl 48 in Metlife Stadium as richard sherman awaits crowd's cheers... why not robin thicke instead of bruno mars?:-)


http://tiny.cc/WatchSuperBowl48Live

KeysSteven
KeysSteven

Sooooo...you're not really firm on that Denver pick, huh, Pete ("But nothing will surprise me")?  I'm fully vested: Broncos win (33-22), and if they don't, I'll be surprised. 

JohnHenry
JohnHenry

MR King I while think Strahan is a HOF worthy player, just not over Charles Haley ever. This more of likability and after you played than on the field. Two players both worthy one not in and the other not a first ballot that's go the best of the best. Was this a Haley or Strahan vote?

E Money1
E Money1

Wait Peter King is the writer? I thought it was Richard Sherman's site.

camarokid69
camarokid69

Mark Schereth of espn said on his radio show last night that a DLine coach told him that it takes about 1.7 seconds for the D lineman to beat you clean and get to the qb.  Mark stated that Peyton gets rod of the ball in 1.7 seconds OR less about 60 to 70% of the time. He said even it the D lineman beats his guy or beats him clean he is not going to get there in time. Hawks like to rotate players in and out and I think that's in Peytons favor cause he runs the no huddle so fast I think he will wear the hawks D line down.

stephcra
stephcra

I wonder if Marshawn Lynch knows that Tom Cable is actually most notorious for punching he ex-wife and girlfriends. In fact, Al Davis fired him for this. I can forgive Lynch his ignorance because he doesn't appear to be the brightest bulb on the tree, but Peter King has to know this.

Sad that Peter chose to make light of woman-beating POS like Cable who should be in jail instead of coaching in the Super Bowl. Oh wait, this is the NFL. Violence against women is just a part of the price of admission.

Fleeb
Fleeb

After this game Manning will either be the goat, or have a strong case that he is the GOAT. Just saying.

DavidHarte
DavidHarte

JJ Watt Defensive Player of the Year?  King, please.  Did you miss the season?


Try Navarro Bowman, a stronger player than Kuechly, and sadly, a great player who may be done at that elite level after that godawful fiasco of a play in Seattle.


(Those officials should never work another game for this one play alone.)


But here's to Bowman and the remarkable year he had.

scoutxx
scoutxx

Most people who pick the Seahawks do so because they think Denver is just another team and the same rules apply. The problem with that is that it's not true. No one has ever seen a team like Denver this year, and they will pick Seattle's defense apart like they're playing Washington State. 


The big question is how they'll do it. Will they come out and run the hurry up and tire out the pass rush by prevent Seattle from substituting players, which is how they've stayed fresh all year, or will Manning run a ball control offense and eat up the clock with 7 minute drives? Maybe a combination designed to keep Seattle off balance?


Whatever happens, it's going to be fun to watch. 


Denver 42

Seattle 21

JeffreyWolf
JeffreyWolf

In the post season...


#1 Team against the rush? Denver...


Against the pass? Seattle is in at #6, Denver at #7.


Post Season? Denver's got the better defense and offense. Not really even very close.


Granted, their schedule's don't overlap much, so it's hard to draw hard conclusions, but to those that think Seattle's going to score much, and run easily, and "Boom" Denver's pass attack...I gotta say the stats don't support it.


Denver's playing their best football now, no one is struggling...


And could we please quit with the "Manning's gonna fold cuz he always does" nonsense? Teams win championships, not individuals. There's a lot of great quarterbacks that are going to be watching this one from the comfort of their living rooms tomorrow...

3M_TA3
3M_TA3

Denver wins if Seattle is forced to blitz. It's that simple. If Seattle can get a rush with 4 linemen, Seattle wins. That's been the formula for winning in the age of new rules that benefit offenses, regular season or playoffs.

Bendrix
Bendrix

@mwr5053 They would have won even without Harvin. Not by as much, but still convincingly.

mwr5053
mwr5053

@JohnSlyfield  My thoughts exactly. Peter then said "nothing that happens would surprise him in the game." Let's wait and see how many times he says he was surprised about this, that and the other in his MMQB column!

BbchAt-Fifty
BbchAt-Fifty

@PunkinBozo This is exactly what Bill Barnwell wrote in Grantland which is why he favored Seattle although you are more accurate with the score.

bill16
bill16

@PunkinBozo  You don't take into account that Denvers defensive strength is their run D and should match up well. With Champ out for much of the season the secondary took a hit and with him back the defense has played exceptionally well. Not sure where you think the special teams goes to seattle. Denver has arguably the best field goal kicker in the league and a great returner. You are obviously a Seattle fan looking through biased glasses.

Hulk99
Hulk99

@KeysSteven   Surprised much?


Sorry for the slow response. I've just been celebrating the Seahawks' CRUSHING of Peyton Manning and the Broncos for the last week.

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@stephcra  You started out sounding intelligent, then you turned into an idiot with your final comment. Congrats on diminishing your point...

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@Fleeb  Manning is already the GOAT. I guess you either get it, or you don't...

Holland
Holland

@DavidHarte  He had better numbers in every way over Kuechly, Oh well a snub is a snub just like these arrogant pricks in the media vote based on popularity……whoever is cooler wins…Same with the Hall votes…..just a disgrace…..

Hulk99
Hulk99

@scoutxx Hey, Sparky, was the game as much "fun to watch" as you thought it would be? I was just giddy with excitement from the first botched snap!  Kinda didn't matter what this team that "no one has ever seen" the likes of before tried, right? They got slapped around like a high school team. I'm just bustin' your chops. I have a great deal of respect for Peyton. But the team more like nothing ever seen before...? Seattle Seahawks, world champs. Dominant. LOB.

MartyballBlutarsky
MartyballBlutarsky

@scoutxx  You are right.  It was fun to watch.  Never mind that you were completely and utterly incorrect. Best you stay away from football analysis.  Denver had no business being on the same field as the Seahawks.  

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@scoutxx  In theory I agree. Denver can dictate Seattle's defensive alignments by how they line up their receivers, and they ran the ball up and down the field twice in the preseason tilt (before Ball's fumble on the Seattle 1 yd line and Manning leaving the game). They have the most sophisticated offense in the league by a good margin, and I think we'll see some new ripples that will work wonderfully.The problem is execution. You can't tire out the defense in the no-huddle unless you convert. Seattle has some very good players, so execution is the key. It only takes one flubbed play or drop on third down to turn a 7 minute drive into a 2 minute drive-and-punt. That said, I think Denver will get their points and their 'D' will bend but not break. Seattle's O line and receivers don't scare anyone (save a ?? Harvin), and Wilson won't do squat unless he does his best Tebow impression and runs around waiting for his receivers to get open. Denver 31, Seattle 27.

olis_tx
olis_tx

@scoutxx  

Hilarious!  Remind me how many points Denver scored in the playoffs against inferior defenses.  You think they're going to score 42 against the number 1 defense?  Either you're delusional or not paying attention.

Hulk99
Hulk99

@JeffreyWolf Hey, Jeff. Bet you feel dumb now, huh? Denver has the better defense AND offense? HA.... HA HA... HA HA HA HA HA!!! Love your smugness and only wish I could have been there to watch it slide from your face into your nachos.


ljlowber
ljlowber

@bill16 sorry man... Based on the outcome of this game @PunkinBozo hit the nail on the head.

PunkinBozo
PunkinBozo

@bill16 @PunkinBozoOK, lets take a look. Denver's Defense ranked # 24th in the league in rushing
TD's allowed with Seattle at #1. Your defense is ranked # 21 in passing TD's, Seattle is #1. I also did not take into account Seattle's defensive strength is it's passing defense even though we lost starters in the back field. Nor did I mention Seattle's +18 to Denver's -1 in Take Away's. On Special teams, Punt Returns - Seattle #7 Denver #21, Kick Returns Seattle #27 Denver #4, Punt Return yards allowed - Seattle #1 Denver #15, Field Goals - Seattle #2 Denver #3. Yes I am a Seattle fan but who is looking through biased glasses.

JBub
JBub

@Joebuckster @stephcraActually Joe, he demonstrated intelligence on both ends, except that his entire piece is a red herring...

JBub
JBub

@Joebuckster @FleebI GET it, but the god of all things is a bit much! I wonder if Fleeb has any more platitudes to share.

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