The Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos are runaway favorites to meet this year in Super Bowl XLVIII — to be played in February in a frigid MetLife stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The Seahawks currently have the best record in the NFL at 12-2 with two games to play in the regular season. They have conceded the fewest points in the league and are top five in offense. The Broncos have scored 129 more points (535 total) than the second best scoring team — the Chicago Bears. Their offense, led by Peyton Manning, has only been held under 30 points in a game three times this season — and in those three games they are 2-1. So what to watch for in this potential showdown will be whether or not the Seahawks can minimize the damage Manning inflicts on them while their strong offense puts up enough points on a middle-of-the-pack Broncos defense. The two won’t meet in the regular season, so it’s tough to say how it might go down.
The Seahawks have allowed the fewest opponents’ passing yards — a stat that would be put to the test against the Broncos who lead the league in passing yards. They are top ten in opponents rushing yards and the Broncos are 14th in the league in rushing production — so that will likely be a wash. But it’s on the inverse of that matchup that could be a key factor if these two meet up in February. The Seahawks have the second best running game in the league, led by 1,000-yard rusher Marshawn Lynch and quarterback Russell Wilson; and the Broncos allow 105.4 rushing yards per game which is good for 11th in the league. This could be a breaking point for the Broncos — especially given the expected harsh weather conditions.
Scoring averages tend to drop in colder temperatures, which would lend a hand to the defensive-minded Seahawks. Furthermore, passing in colder temperatures can be troublesome due to the ball itself becoming stiffer from the cold. How much this will affect Peyton Manning is debatable, but you can be sure the Seahawks will have less of an adjustment continually handing the ball off to Lynch and drawing up plays on the ground for Wilson. This map below from sportingcharts.com shows just how much scoring tails off in colder NFL cities.
While it’d seem that the Seahawks have an obvious advantage for how each team approaches their respective game plan, it might not be the case. Both teams play in outdoor stadiums — and Denver is often subjected to frigid temperatures in the winter months. The average low temperature in February in Denver, Colorado is 19 degrees Fahrenheit. In Seattle, Washington — 37 degrees. Should there be snow, Denver is used to 81.0 inches of annual snowfall whereas Seattle is only used to 6.8. The Super Bowl will be played at a stadium that receives 25.2 inches of snowfall annually (February being its snowiest month) and where the average low February temperature is 27 degrees Fahrenheit.
So maybe Denver has the bigger advantage.
Or perhaps these two leading teams don’t make their way to New Jersey in February for the Super Bowl anyway. In the NFC, the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears play in the coldest NFL cities in the league and both have a chance of getting to the Super Bowl. In the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots are also used to cold and snowy weather conditions — they have a shot at the Super Bowl too.
And besides, when you think back — some of the most storied games in the history of the sport have been played in freezing temperatures and blizzard-like conditions — so this could very well be one of the best Super Bowls in recent memory.