Friday, January 31, 2014

SB 48: The Line Has The Broncos Favored But The Stat Heads Pick The Seahawks

The line says this will be a close game and Denver is favored by 2 points. But when you pick apart how each team stack-ups against the another, there are a lot more points in Seattle's favor.

Aaron Schatz starts out his Super Bowl preview with a reminder that this Super Bowl is historic match-up with the best offense (Broncos) taking on the best defense (Seahawks). And he ends his preview with this prediction:
The Seahawks have now led the league in DVOA for two years in a row. They were better than Denver this year, they didn't decline in the second half of the season, and they are healthier than their opponents. I picked Seattle to beat Denver in the Super Bowl before this season started and I'm sticking with that pick. I'm not looking forward to having to spend the next few months constantly writing about how losing a second close Super Bowl shouldn't damage Peyton Manning's legacy, but I expect I will have to. 
The Broncos will move the ball against the Seahawks D but probably not deep down the field. They should have success running the ball and on short passes to WR Wes Welker. One very good point is that the Broncos struggled earlier this season against the Jaguars when former Seahawks DC Gus Bradley ran the Seahawks' scheme against QB Peyton Manning. The Broncos will have to work slowly down the field and try to figure out something that'll work against the Seahawks' suffocating Red Zone defense.

While QB Russell Wilson hasn't played well over the past few weeks, he hasn't been turning the ball over either and he's been playing against a host of fearsome pass defenses. Six of his last seven opponents have featured pass defenses ranked in the Top 10 by Football Outsiders. On the other hand, the Broncos were only ranked No. 21 against the pass during the regular season by Football Outsiders and that was before the season ending injury to their top CB, Chris Harris. Wilson could have a big game against them.

And the hidden game advantage also goes to the Seahawks who have a much better special teams unit, which might also be gaining Percy Harvin on kickoff returns.

So every time I looked closely at something, I saw an advantage for the Seahawks. Stuff happens, they don't play games on paper, on any given Sunday one NFL team can beat another, etc. But right now I can't see how the Seahawks will lose.

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