By Matthew Asher
We still have a dozen days before Super Bowl XLVIII, but here are three factors Seattle needs to worry about if they are to win the Lombardi Trophy this season.
Can the Legion of Boom Limit Denver’s passing?
Note that it says limit, not stop. We’re all adults here and the thought of shutting down Peyton Manning and his receiving corps, which average 340 passing yards a game, is probably next to impossible.
The key for Seattle should be limiting Manning and company to 250 passing yards or less, but it definitely won’t be easy. Including the two postseason games, Manning has thrown for 300 or more yards 14 times in 18 games. Against Jacksonville, Manning was “limited” to 295 yards and against Oakland in Week 17, he sat out the entire second half, still after throwing for 266 yards.
Manning’s worst offensive game this season was against New England in Week 12. Thanks in large part to the freezing temperatures, Manning was limited to just 150 yards. However, Denver ran the ball for 280 yards that game, so if Manning can’t throw, the running game is still a viable option.
If Seattle wants to limit Manning, they need to take a long look at how San Diego handled Denver. In two out of the three contests this season, the Chargers limited Manning to 289 yards (a Week 15 San Diego win) and 230 yards back in the Divisional Round game. Part of San Diego’s success had to do with their offense being on the field a lot, not allowing Manning to even have a chance.
Can Seattle sack Manning?
Denver’s offensive line has done a remarkable job of keeping Manning’s jersey clean over the course of the season. In the 18 regular and postseason games, Manning has been sacked a total of 18 times and in both playoff games he hasn’t been sacked once.
In the regular season, Seattle had the eighth most sacks in the league with 44. But in their two playoff games, Seattle has recorded just three total sacks. Denver has twice as many in the playoffs as Seattle.
How Will Beast Mode Fare Against Denver’s D?
This is where the game could be won or lost by Seattle. There’s no arguing that Seattle has a great defense, but Denver is no slouch, either. While statistically the Seahawks are head and shoulders above the Broncos, Denver’s strength on defense, their run-stopping, is Seattle’s primary offensive weapon.
Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson are responsible for the majority of Seattle’s 136.8 rushing yards a game, but Denver has allowed 101.6 in the regular season. Against New England, Denver shut down the Patriots running game. The week before LeGarrette Blount ran 24 times for 166 yards and four touchdowns against Indianapolis. Against Denver he was limited to six yards on five carries. As a team, New England gained just 64 yards on the ground in 16 attempts.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.