Thus far in this playoffs, I’ve done a lot better picking games than I did in the regular season. I have correctly picked the winners in nine out of the 10 playoff games (curse those Eagles!), and are 7-2-1 when picking against the spread.
Here’s my pick for the final game of the 2014 season: Super Bowl XLVIII.
Seattle Seahawks (15-3) vs. Denver Broncos (15-3)
Sunday, February 2 at 6:25 pm ET on FOX
*Line: Broncos (-2.0)
I have been waffling back and forth for the past two weeks about who to take in this game. In the latest podcast, I picked the Seahawks but now I’m going away from that pick.
Initially, I felt that the Broncos were in for a rude awakening facing the Seahawks defense. Denver hasn’t really faced a defense like Seattle’s, and the last time they played a team with a similar scheme (Jacksonville), their offense was contained very effectively. But with more thought, the more I began to feel that Denver was the more complete team.
That meshes with my initial predictions at the beginning of the year that the Broncos would beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. Now when I made that prediction, I had assumed Von Miller would be a significant difference maker in that game. Alas, he is not due to an injury. And thus my thought process for why I was partly in favor of the Seahawks is because the Broncos defense is lackluster.
But so is the Seahawk offense. The main thing the Seahawks have going for them on that side of the ball is running back Marshawn Lynch, but that could be checked by a strength of the Broncos: their run defense. So I don’t suspect Seattle to be able to pound it down Denver’s throat and slow down the game as much as they need to. I think Seattle’s defense can keep the Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense in check, but in the end, I suspect Manning and his weapons can put together a scoring drive that I don’t think Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are capable of. Seattle is just too reliant on running the football in order to move the ball consistently, and splash plays in the air. Those things don’t tend to be as dependable in the fourth quarter.
The only thing that I think Seattle has in their favor is a number of quick receivers in Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, and Golden Tate that could give a depleted Broncos secondary a run for their money by generating some of those splash plays. Especially if the Broncos are forced to rely too much on Quentin Jammer, who has lost several steps.
Ultimately, I just don’t trust Wilson enough to think he can take advantage of all the opportunities afforded him. And I think as the game is going to wear on, Denver is going to get better because Manning is going to be able to figure out that Seahawks defense somewhat.
I have this inkling of a feeling that the stage might prove too big for Seattle, and by Seattle, I mean Wilson. This could certainly be his coming out party, and his mobility and athleticism could be an X-factor in why they win. But I’m just not expecting it. He’s a young quarterback and at some point tomorrow night he’s going to be put in a situation to win the game, and the Seahawks just don’t have the weapons on the outside that I think he can get the job done.
Final Score: Broncos 24, Seahawks 20.
Spread Pick: Broncos
Straight Pick: Broncos
* Line comes from ESPN.com