Super Bowl XLVIII is set to kick off in 12 days and there will be plenty to write about in the 11 days leading up to kickoff. The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks were the No.1 seeds in their respective conferences heading into the playoffs and did not let home field advantage slip away. Both won their conferences title games on Sunday.
The Broncos methodically defeated the N.E. Patriots 24-16, as Peyton Manning passed for 400 yards while tossing two TD’s with no interceptions. In Seattle, the Seahawks forced three San Francisco 49er turnovers on their final three possessions of the fourth quarter to hold on for a 23-17 victory.
Each team’s victory on Sunday was essentially a microcosm of how each arrived to this point of the season. Denver has done it with the league’s No.1 offense on the arm of the league’s best quarterback. Seattle rode their No.1 ranked turnover forcing machine of a defense, as well as the NFL’s fifth ranked rushing attack to get to get to East Rutherford New Jersey (sounds weird doesn’t it).
Here are few early stats and numbers to help pass the time and start to get you set for what is sure to be a great Super Bowl between the leagues two best teams during the regular season.
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Peyton Manning, who is making his third trip to the big game, is the fourth quarterback to reach the Super Bowl after leading the NFL in both passing yardage and touchdown passes. The other three- Dan Marino, Kurt Warner and Tom Brady. That’s pretty good company isn’t it. Would you believe they all lost in that Super Bowl appearance? You may not want to but they did—Marino to the 49ers, Warner to the Patriots and Brady to the Giants.
Manning will also try to be the first starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl for two different teams. Four QBs have won Super Bowl rings with two teams, though none were starters for both. Earl Morrall (Colts, Dolphins), Jeff Rutledge (Giants, Redskins), Matt Cavanaugh (49ers, Giants), and Jim McMahon (Bears, Packers).
Russell Wilson will be the sixth quarterback to start in a Super Bowl in either his first or second season in the league. The previous five went 3-2, with wins by Kurt Warner, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger.
Does Defense Win Championships?
This will be the second Super Bowl since the 1970 merger featuring the No. 1 total offense (yards gained) versus the No. 1 total defense (yards allowed). The first was Super Bowl XXXVII following the 2002 season, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 1 in yards allowed) beat the Oakland Raiders (No. 1 in yards gained).
Tampa Bay destroyed the Raiders in that contest, as Bucs head coach John Gruden was only one year removed from having been the head coach for you guessed it—–the same Raiders team he was facing in that Super Bowl. Gruden knew the Raiders offense from top to bottom and had his Bucs team well prepared. Raiders QB Rich Gannon threw five interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns. The Buccaneers led 34-9 at the end of three quarters enroute to a 48-21 thrashing of Oakland.
This will be the fifth time since the AFL and NFL merged that the league’s top-scoring offense played the top-scoring defense in the Super Bowl, the first since the Buffalo Bills(top offense) and New York Giants(top defense) met to close the 1990 season.
That Super Bowl will always be remembered, as a hard fought defensive struggle despite the Bills hurry up offense approach that dominated headlines throughout the course of the season. Of course, Bills kicker Scott Norwood’s miss of a 47-yard field goal attempt as time expired is what many will remember about that contest.
But what should be noted is the Giants defense held Machine Gun Jim Kelly’s offense in check. Buffalo averaged 26.8 points per game during the year and could only muster 19 in Tampa that night.
The top defensive team has won three of the previous four matchups. The lone win by the top-scoring team in those games was by the 1989 San Francisco 49ers against the Broncos. This is the 19th time that a regular-season scoring champion has reached the Super Bowl. The previous 18 teams were 10-8 in the title game
This is the 16th time that the defense that allowed the fewest points in the NFL has made the Super Bowl since the merger. The previous 15 teams went 12-3 in those Super Bowls.
This is the second Super Bowl between No. 1 seeds in last 20 seasons. The other was Super Bowl XLIV between the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts following 2009 season. The Saints won that game, 31-17.
The NFC West will get a chance to snap a four game losing streak in the Super Bowl, with each of the division’s four teams losing in their last trip to the big game. Last year the Niners lost to Baltimore, while the Cardinals fell to Arizona in Super Bowl XLIII. The Rams have also contributed in this losing streak. Although it has been a while, the losing streak actually started with them back in 2001 when the upstart New England Patriots upset the Greatest Show on Turf.
Ironically, current NFL Game day host Kurt Warner was the losing QB for two of those teams. Warner piloted the Rams and Cardinals in their Super Bowl losses. While he did pass for an average of 371 yards in both defeats and threw four TD’s combined, his three interceptions were costly. Two of the three were returned for TD’s. The combined margin of loss in both games was just seven points. Ty Law ran one back 47 yards for the Patriots and James Harrison scored for the Steelers just before halftime as he chugged 100 yards for his TD.
Denver head coach John Fox guided the Broncos to a 26-16 win over New England in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game. With the win, Fox became the sixth coach in NFL history to lead two different franchises to the Super Bowl. Fox took the Carolina Panthers to Super Bowl XXXVIII vs. the Patriots. New England won that game when kicker Adam Vinatieri nailed a 41-yard field goal with just nine seconds to play.
Seattle Head Coach Pete Carroll will be looking to join a “Bootleggers Boy” and another Cowboy, as the only head coaches to win a Super Bowl and a BCS National Championship. Only Barry Switzer (Oklahoma) and Jimmy Johnson (Miami) have completed that football double. Both won Super Bowls as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Johnson in back-to-back seasons in 1992 &93 and Switzer in 95, two years after he took over for Jimmy Johnson.
Carroll, who just completed his eighth year as a head coach in the NFL, four of them with Seattle, won the BCS National Championship with the University of Southern Cal Trojans in 2005 but had it vacated by the NCAA for rules violations. He also won the AP National Championship in 2003 & 2004 while at USC. During his tenure at USC (2000-09), Carroll watched as 53 of his players were drafted into the NFL.
Once Upon a Time:
The Seahawks were an NFC West team during their expansion season in 1976, but from 1977 until the NFL expanded again in 2002, they were a rival of the Broncos as a member of the AFC West. The two teams have met 52 times in their franchises history with the Broncos winning 34 of the games.
Since Seattle moved back to the NFC, Denver has captured two of the three meetings. Their last regular season contest took place September 19, 2010 in Denver with the Broncos winning. Kyle Orton passed for 307 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Broncos to a 31-14 win that day.
This will be the third Super Bowl between two teams located in the Mountain and Pacific Time zones. San Francisco won the two previous such games in blowouts. Whoever wins will be the first Super Bowl-winning team from outside the Eastern/Central time zones since the 1998 Broncos.