While those in the NFL with local ties have seen their seasons go by the wayside, much like the rest of the world, the impending Super Bowl is still plenty interesting to area football fans — sports writers, coaches, players and then some.
The New York area weather, Peyton Manning’s legacy, Richard Sherman’s mouth, Denver’s receivers, Seattle’s defense, Marshawn Lynch’s boss and plenty more have grabbed headlines in the lead up to Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday in New Jersey.
Led by future Hall of Famer Manning, the Broncos offense has put up record-setting numbers with a potent receiving corps featuring Denarious Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker and Julian Thomas proving too prolific for most defenses to contain. However, the running game, led by Knowshon Moreno, has oft been overlooked and underrated, much like the Broncos’ defense.
Seattle, on the other hand, is led by the NFL’s top defense, buoyed by Sherman, whose talk has been as controversial as his play has been outstanding. Sherman is joined by standout safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas in comprising quite likely the league’s best defensive backfield. Offensively, Lynch, who runs loud and talks low, is hoping to have Beastmode trending once more as he’s proven to be a postseason rushing dynamo, while quarterback Russell Wilson continues to show poise beyond his years.
So, who will win between former AFC West rivals in the latest battle for the Lombardi Trophy?
Well, we’re going to try to tell you.
The Glendale News-Press staff, along with local football coaches and players, offer their predictions.
Grant Gordon, Sports Editor: “Super Bowl predictions are often a lot closer scores than they end up being with most people over analyzing. I’ll only do the latter. For all the talk of how phenomenal Seattle’s defense is, Denver’s is somewhat underrated. The Broncos have allowed just one 100-yard rusher this season (San Diego’s Ryan Matthews in the Chargers’ 27-20 win on Dec. 12 had 127 yards in 29 carries) and, though Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson adds an element with his legs, the Broncos have played a who’s-who of running quarterbacks (Terrell Pryor (twice), Michael Vick, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin and Alex Smith (twice) and have allowed more than 50 yards rushing to a quarterback just once (Smith had five carries for 52 yards in one game). Thus, I truly believe Denver’s defense can shut down Seattle’s rushing attack. And I don’t care how great the Seahawks defense is, it’s not the ’85 Bears. Heck, it’s not the ’06 Bears and Peyton Manning was able to beat them. I just don’t see Russell Wilson out quarterbacking Peyton Manning. Why? Cause he’s Peyton freaking Manning, the greatest quarterback of all-time. Denver 41, Seattle 20.”
Andrew Campa, Sports Writer: “To beat the Denver Broncos, you have to be able to score multiple touchdowns. Indianapolis, New England and San Diego totaled 39, 34 and 27 points, respectively, in regular-season victories versus Denver. Seattle has only scored 27 or more points once in the last six games. Denver 28, Seattle 17.”
Charles Rich, Sports Writer: “It will be Peyton Manning's time to shine in the Metropolitan Area spotlight with a big passing effort through the snow flurries. Denver 31, Seattle 24.”
Jeff Tully, Sports Writer: “A lot of hype has centered around Broncos veteran quarterback Peyton Manning, and rightly so. He has put up MVP numbers and is the key to Denver’s offense. But don’t be surprised if the signal-caller for the Seahawks, Russell Wilson, steals some of that thunder and has a big game of his own. Denver hasn’t done well against running quarterbacks and Wilson could pose a wealth of problems. But it won’t be as much about the offense as it will be the defense — particularly the top-rated Seattle defense. It will be that defense, led by a stellar group of defensive backs, that will ultimately prove the difference. Seattle 28, Denver 24.”
Matt Andersen, Hoover High football coach: “I’m going with the Broncos only because I’m a huge Niners fan being from Northern California and now I can’t root for the Seahawks. Denver 17, Seattle 10.”
Jim Bonds, St. Francis High football coach, All-Area Football Coach of the Year: “This is hard because I’ve been a lifelong John Elway/Broncos fan and I do like Peyton, however, my gut is telling me, ‘Defense wins championships’ Seattle 24, Denver 19.”
Antonio Harrison, Flintridge Prep football coach: “I have Seattle. Just seems like it is their year and if it’s too windy, I don’t see Manning having a great game; plus the defense of Seattle is tremendous. Seattle 20, Denver 14.”
Paul Schilling, Crescenta Valley High football coach: “[The Broncos] have too many offensive weapons for Seattle. Denver 28, Seattle 21.”
John Tuttle, Glendale High football coach: “Peyton Manning [will be the difference]. Denver 42, Seattle 28.”
Brian Gadsby, Crescenta Valley junior quarterback, All-Pacific League and All-Area honoree: “I have Seattle in a low-scoring game. Peyton is the better QB in the game, but I think that Seattle’s defense is just too good and will keep it low-scoring. Richard Sherman will back up what he said and come through big for them. Seattle 24, Denver 21.”
Ty Gangi, St. Francis senior quarterback, All-Area Football Player of the Year, All-CIF and All-Mission League honoree: “I predict the Seahawks are going to win because Russell Wilson will have a great game and out score the Broncos and the Seahawks secondary will be able to slow down Manning. Seattle 24, Denver 21.”
Daniel Jung, Glendale junior running back, All-Pacific League and All-Area honoree: “I feel like the Seahawks will win because their defense has been spot on. Seattle 21, Denver 17.”
Sean Murphy, Glendale Community College quarterback, All-American Conference Pacific Division honoree: “Besides the fact that Denver is my team, Peyton Manning will get that offense going and they’ll get it. Manning has more experience out there and he’ll take charge. Denver 30, Seattle 21.”
Andres Perez, Hoover senior wide receiver, All-Pacific League and All-Area honoree: “I’ve been watching Seattle all season long. They have a great defense to get them the Super Bowl ring. Seattle 36, Denver 21.”
Stefan Smith, Flintridge Prep senior running back, All-Prep League and All-Area honoree: “I’m picking the Seahawks. I think Russell Wilson can take advantage of the Broncos defense more so than Peyton will be able to do with the Seattle defense. And I want to see Richard Sherman’s interview should Seattle win. Seattle 31, Denver 27.”
Marcus Tappan, Glendale Community College linebacker, All-American Conference Pacific Division honoree: “I want to go with the Broncos. Manning is so hard to stop. And the end of the day, you have to give it to him. His receivers are so smart. Peyton Manning will prevail. Denver 38, Seattle 24.”
Final score: 8-8.