I am not really an “x-and-o” type of fan when it comes to professional football. While I know the basics, I don’t get into the weeds and try to determine the details of a particular game situation. Come Sunday evening I would love nothing more than if the Denver Broncos and all of their fans were celebrating a third NFL championship. Realizing that the Seattle Seahawks will not lie down for anyone, I have come up with a list of five things the Broncos must do to bring another Lombardi Trophy back to Colorado. While my ideas are basically just rehashing what the so-called experts have been talking about for two weeks, if not the whole season, they are in simple, laymen’s terms so the average fan can understand them.
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1. The offensive unit must step it up. This first item may come to a surprise to some considering the Broncos offensive machine has been on a roll all season, but the Seahawks defense will present challenges. I am confident that Adam Gase and Peyton Manning will remain patient and calm, finding ways to attack the Seahawks solid defensive unit. The Broncos may not put up thirty points, but the objective is to win the game, not score a certain amount of points.
2. A member of the Four Horseman must rise up. The Seahawks are intelligent and know they must try to shut down the receiving corp of the Denver Broncos. Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, and Julius Thomas have all had a great year. My assumption is that the Seahawks will shut one of them down, possibly more than one on particular plays and game situations. While that may be a concern to some, know that Peyton Manning is prepared and will find the open guy, or the mismatch. Richard Sherman may have a great game but I don’t really care if the guy he is covering doesn’t get the ball thrown his way as long as the Broncos move the ball down the field. Manning is a mature quarterback and will be more focused on executing the offense than burning Sherman. Who knows, Joel Dreessen, Andre Caldwell, or Jacob Tamme may become a hero on Sunday!
3. Protect Peyton. I don’t think it gets any more simple than that. The passing game we have grown to love watching this season starts with Peyton Manning. The five guys up front had a tremendous year and that must continue for one more game. During the regular season the Broncos offensive line gave up a total of twenty sacks (1.3/game), which was first in the league. Manning received 54 hits during the regular season. It’s hard to believe, but the offensive line of the Broncos stepped it up in the postseason and performed even better than they did in the regular season, allowing no sacks and only one quarterback hit. On the other side of the ball, the Seahawks defense sacked the oppositions quarterback forty-four times (2.8/game) in the regular season, which was tied for eighth in the league. The Broncos tight ends may be called on to help protect Manning so they must step up their pass protection as well. At times this season, I’ve watched the tight ends and it appeared their pass blocking was less than stellar, which is a slight concern.
4. Shut down Beast Mode (aka Marshawn Lynch). Marshawn Lynch may not like to speak with the media, but he certainly loves to carry the rock. During the regular season, Lynch carried the ball a total of 301 times for 1,257 yards (78.6/game), which was eighth in the league. Lynch also scored twelve rushing touchdowns in 2013. The Broncos rushing defense was tied for seventh this season, allowing 101.6 yards per game. Hopefully, the Broncos will shut down the Seahawks rushing game, and Lynch will have no reason to speak with the media after the game.
5. Hold onto the football! In my opinion, there isn’t a bigger momentum changer in the game than the turnover. I look back on the Broncos season and the Ronnie Hillman fumble in the Indianapolis Colts game still stings because the Broncos had driven to the Colts two-yard line with less than three minutes remaining in the game and appeared to be on the verge of scoring. The fumble not only contributed to the Broncos first loss of the season, it also caused Hillman to be declared inactive for a few weeks after that game. While Hillman wasn’t the only Bronco to turn the ball over, his fumble does prove how crucial turnovers are to a team and how they can directly impact the outcome of the game. If the Broncos can keep the ball out of the Seahawks hands, they will control the clock and hopefully end drives with touchdowns. Turning the ball over will prevent this and definitely give the Seahawks an advantage. During the 2013 season, the Broncos lost 16 of their 27 fumbles ranking them 27th in the league. Regarding the passing game, the Broncos threw ten interceptions, which put them at fifth in the league behind Kansas City, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Seattle.
Go Broncos – good luck in Super Bowl XLVIII!
Beat the Seahawks!