The Last Game for 8 Months
At this point every single stat has been analysed. Every single player has had every single play scrutinised and analysed, so let’s look at all one last time, for the last game of the season.
So what are we expecting? We’re expecting exactly what’s set up. The number 1 Offence against the number 1 Defence. The smartest QB in the sport going up against the smartest Secondary. We’re expecting Marshawn Lynch to blaze through to the end zone carrying every single Defensive player on his back. Will we get this? No probably not, if this match up shows anything, it is really that there is no substitute for putting the hours in and being smart. The smart thing to do in these games would be unpredictable.
I said this on the pod. If the Seahawks can run the ball, this game will undoubtedly be over. If they can’t then they need to put the ball in Russell Wilson’s hands. No I’m not his biggest fan, but he has the ability in this one to take advantage of some glaring holes that Lynch will create, not just with his feet but through the air. With Harvin back they have the chance to do something really interesting on Offence and create a mismatch. Harvin can line up all over the field and cause some serious problems for a Broncos Defence hell-bent on stopping Lynch. So then they pick up Harvin. Brilliant… well except now that gives Wilson an opportunity to do something with any of his other weapons, or even with his feet. This Offence has never looked so scary and they’ve saved it to the final game of the season. Whatever happens, you have to think Lynch can get something going. It might not be 100 yards+ but it should at least be enough to give Wilson a chance to win this game for them…yup I said it. If the Seahawks win this I actually think it will be Wilson that wins it for them. The Broncos are backed into a corner. If they stuff the box try and take Lynch out of the game that frees up Wilson to work some magic with the surrounding talent. Wilson is plays like he’s been oiled up. The more you put pressure on him and tighten the grip, the more he’ll simply slip through their fingers and use his unreal speed and game smarts to get a first down one way or another. The Broncos have a lot to deal with.
There really is very little to say about the Defence. If they can get pressure on Peyton Manning, they can force him to make mistakes, something he has done relatively infrequently this year. But today he’s going up against the best. If the Seahawks can go the whole game without letting him get into a rhythm and at least appearing like they have no holes then we could see the Peyton Manning that struggles in the post season. Expect a big game from the likes of Michael Bennett. He can then add a couple of million on his price tag when he hits free agency.
Before I move onto the Broncos, I need to mention easily the most undervalued part of this team. The Punt unit. The Punt unit have managed to hold the opposition to less than 100 yards all season (a point I tend to hammer home). If they can keep the field position reasonably short then they can give their Offence a decent chance to win this one.
The Seahawks are famous for some notoriously loud players (and a few quiet ones), but what gets missed is the fact that they really are a complete team. Everyone plays a part and they all do it very well.
Year of the Horse (drink). Ok that will be the last time I mention that. If the Broncos win this one it will undoubtedly be on the back of future hall of famer Peyton Manning…or will it?
Ok so the answer to that is obviously yes it will, but if they are to get anything going in this game, they need to include their wide array of Running Backs and their variety of talent. The fact of the matter is if the Broncos can beat the Seahawks at their own game and pound the ball, then they stand a pretty good chance here. Peyton Manning’s job in this one will be to outsmart the likes of Sherman and not get sloppy. Sherman and the rest of that secondary will be waiting all game for him to make a mistake. You think that swat down into Malcolm Smith’s hands at the end of the NFC Championship game was a fluke? Not at all, watch old interviews and you will see that is something they practice. They are ready to exploit any mistakes ‘the Sherriff’, makes. So Manning has to play perfect. Any mistakes could be potential game changers. Manning does however have the perfect supporting cast to stop him from making those mistakes. One thing that doesn’t get discussed is the depth at the Tight End position that Manning should be looking at exploiting. Maybe put the ball in Tamme’s hands more often, try and play as physical as this Seahawks will undoubtedly play, show them that the Broncos can win in any way they need to.
The Defence will have their work cut out. Whereas everything on the other side of this game will be about trying to outsmart the opposition on this side it will be about damage limitation. Whilst they do need to stop Lynch, they really need to focus on the team as a whole. This could mean they give up the odd big play, but they should look to just not get dominated. Make sure the game always within one score and Manning can bring them back into this.
The Special teams will also be up against it. But an in form Prater could be a difference in a Windy cold game.
So that’s it. Who do I think’s going to win? Well I’ve got the Seahawks. But I wouldn’t be surprised if either team takes this one. One thing is for certain. This has been the most unpredictable season I can remember, so expect the unexpected.
Enjoy the game folks, for tomorrow we look at 8 months of Darkness…That being said we’ll be here as a support group to hold your hands throughout the off season.
Let’s get to it.