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Super Bowl 48: A house divided

The line is drawn between the Journal’s sports department

POSTED January 31, 2014 7:41 p.m.

The big game is one day away, Super Bowl 48 between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. Football fans have been waiting months for the second of February to arrive, and while a majority of locals are still upset with Seattle’s defeat of San Francisco in the NFC Championship game, the Super Bowl and all the food and fun that accompany it is sure to smooth over any ruffled feathers.

 Last season there was no question as to who was rooting for who, all of Turlock and the Central Valley was abuzz with Kaepernick fever. But now, with the 49ers officially in their off-season, there’s more uncertainty surrounding which team locals with be rooting for.

The Journal’s sports department—the two-man tandem of Eddie Ruiz  and  Frankie Tovar —have been talking about this very question for the past couple weeks, and the more we talked about the game the more we realized we were on opposite sides of the spectrum. It was no surprise that Ruiz, a lifelong 49er fan, was firmly on the side of Peyton Manning and the Broncos, but when I informed him that I was siding with the contenders from the NFC he was shocked.

Instead of trading barbs about who was right and why, we decided to put pen to paper—or rather fingertips to keyboard—and provide a case for our positions that we could share with you.

Go Seahawks

I know full well that I’m bound to catch grief from friends who bleed red and gold, but I’m not one to bow to that sort of pressure. The fact is I have my own loyalties, and they don’t lie in San Francisco. My heart is in Oakland with the Raiders. With that being said, is it really a surprise that I’m rooting against the Broncos?

I detest the men from the mile high city adorned in orange. While pundits and fans swoon over Peyton Manning, about how much he deserved another ring, all I can think about is the possibility of Denver catching up with the Raiders in Super Bowl wins. It can’t happen.

But there’s more than just an AFC West grudge guiding my support of Seattle, there’s also the weather and the matchups.

It’s no secret that cold weather doesn’t favor the old, and at 37 years Manning is old by NFL standards. Sure, he’s broken nearly every record a quarterback could hope for and is the leader of the NFL’s top offense, but Mother Nature doesn’t care about those stats. The current forecast has the game-time temperature at around 29 degrees—not nearly as bad as previously speculated—but with winds blowing upward of 10 mph it’s hard to say it won’t have an effect of Denver’s passing game. Wind is a quarterback’s worse nightmare and since the Broncos’ offense is predicated on all things Manning, it’s also Denver’s worse nightmare—Knowshon Moreno or no Knowshon Moreno.

Which brings me to my next point, the matchups. It’s the top rated offense against the top rated defense and when that’s the case I go with the defense every time. Ever hear of an old saying, “defense wins championships?” Sure, it’s cliché. But it’s also true.

There’s been three Super Bowl matchups between the leagues' top rated offense and top rated defense, and two of those Lombardi trophies were won by the defensive team. Seattle is no slouch when it comes to defense; they hit and play hard. Seahawks detractors might point to Manning’s passing totals during the regular season and cite his many weapons like Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas, but are they forgetting about the Legion of Boom? With Welker’s history of concussions he’ll be lucky to make it through the entire game.

I’m not completely cold hearted, though. When Manning loses his second Super Bowl I’ll feel for him. The truth is, if he were on any other team—except for the Steelers, Chargers, Chiefs, and Patriots—I would undoubtedly be cheering for him. But he isn’t, he’s a Bronco and for that I share no remorse in cheering against him.

Big Show Broncos

My decision to root for the Broncos is simple. As a 49er faithful, I have to bet against a rival, let alone a division opponent. That is the sole reason why I choose to go with the Denver Broncos in this year’s Super Bowl.

Now, I understand that the top defenses playing in the big game are 12-3 lifetime. However, there’s never been an offense of the same caliber as this year’s Broncos. Manning shattered the single season passing records for yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55). With the four receivers available (both Thomas’, Welker and Decker) it is tough not to imagine any quarterback sharing the same success. While there has never been this type of team before on the offensive side, it will be interesting just how the rest of the team plays behind Manning in his third Super Bowl and how well he will be protected. If he gets enough time—three seconds at least—he can single-handedly pick apart the stifling defense of Seattle.

The pressure will be on for Seattle. They’re the number one defense and people expect big things from them. Why? Because past defenses have proven to be superior in the big game. With that being said, I believe that Manning will not allow himself to lose a second straight Super Bowl, especially after coming back from a neck injury that could have prevented him from ever playing again.

The only things Manning will need to do is stay healthy, obviously, and release the ball quickly for simple, short-yard completions. An emphasis on the short game will open up the big plays because when attacking for short yardage, the deep pass opportunities eventually open up.

And let’s not forget the running game. Knowshon Moreno will have to take the load off Manning, whether it is blocking for him or being open in a check down play to gain positive yardage, and I think he’s more than up to the task. Everybody must be on their “A” game for them to stand a chance against this defense, but I like the chances with the greatest regular season quarterback to date in this matchup.

 

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