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But, you already know that. You also know that, in terms of the spread, I got both of my picks wrong last week (I did pick the Broncos to win outright, but not in the fashion in which they did). But that's all in the past, and it's time to play the most important game in all of sports.
UPSET ALERT if I think the underdog will win outright, not just cover.
In a real clash of styles, the top offense in the league will be facing off against the top defense in the league. Now, I've always been under the impression that a great defense trumps an equally great offense, but that's more of a hunch of mine rather than based off of fact.
We all know about Peyton Manning's record breaking offensive season at the helm of this historic Denver offense, and we also know about Richard Sherman and the boys leading Seattle's Legion of Boom, making it very hard to move the ball of them.
But, there are two key aspects which may win or lose the game on either side. First of all, Seattle's pass rush needs to be able to put constant pressure on Peyton Manning. While he's notorious for throwing the ball quickly, the way to beat him is to make sure he's under fire. So, that's why the two most important players for the Seahawks aren't Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson, but instead, Michael Bennett and Bruce Irvin. Both are incredibly talented pass rushers, and have had a knack for getting to the opposing quarterback, even if it isn't so obvious based solely on their sack numbers. Pass rushing is not just a stat based skill. And this will be a very important facet of the game; if Denver's offensive line holds the Seahawks at bay, expect Peyton Manning to throw all over New Jersey, and help his team pull away. However, if the Seahawks control the line of scrimmage, which I believe they will, it's going to be a long day for the boys in orange.
While that will be quite the interesting battle, the Seahawks have a more clear advantage in the battle of their offense against Denver's defense. Sure, the Broncos have been playing really good defense during the playoffs, but I don't see that being the norm, rather that a run of good luck. They were pretty good against the run all year, but not amazing by any means. Especially after running well against one of the best run defenses in the league against San Francisco two weeks ago, do not expect Marshawn Lynch to be slowed down much tonight.
As for the passing game, once again, we must discuss Percy Harvin. In reality, he's probably going to get hurt in the first quarter and miss the rest of the game, but let's pretend that he actually stays healthy for four hours. He is going to be a huge advantage for the Seahawks. Depending on who is lined up against him as the slot corner, Harvin will be valuable as the primary option, assuming that someone other than Champ Bailey (ahem, Quentin Jammer) is covering him, or as a decoy if John Fox throws Bailey on Harvin for the whole game. Either way, Harvin is going to attract some attention.
Look, I love Peyton Manning. I absolutely love watching him play, because the way he tears up defenses when he's on is absolutely incredible to watch.
And, I'd love to see him add to his legacy, and quiet some of the critics with a win in tonight's game. I'll certainly be rooting for him.
But, at the same time, my head is telling me to go a different route, especially with the weird line.
It has all led to this:
Seahawks (+3) over Broncos.
Seahawks 28, Broncos 27.
Championship Round: 0-2