It's almost two weeks away, but here are some early observations and opinions on Super Bowl XLVIII.
For openers, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman's comments were obnoxious and show no class. Despite his apology Monday, his me-first attitude immediately after the game was offensive.
The first words out of his mouth after his team clinched a spot in the Big Game were: "I'm the best corner in the NFL."
What a great teammate. The guy made one play in 60 minutes and then turned the ultimate team sport into "The Richard Sherman Show." Thankfully, Fox pulled the plug on his embarrassing, self-serving rant almost immediately.
Sherman will undoubtedly be Mr. Popularity next week in New York on media day, where his desire for self-promotion will be thoroughly indulged.
Hopefully, in the opening minutes of the game, Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker will do to Sherman what he did to New England Patriots cornerback Aquib Talib during the AFC title game.
Welker's block on Talib might have been considered a cheap shot by some -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick certainly cried about it as such -- but at least the 5-foot-9 Welker let his play on the field do his talking. By the way, no penalty was called on Welker's block, and commentator Mike Pereira, a former NFL vice president of officiating, agreed with the non-call.
After his game-saving pass breakup, Sherman was flagged for taunting Niners wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Minutes later Sherman called attention to himself in front of the camera, where he couldn't be challenged by anyone more intimidating than Erin Andrews.
Earlier, Sherman was penalized for holding Crabtree, which negated a third-and-9 incompletion, gave the 49ers a first down and helped set up the game's first touchdown.
But enough about that.
This Super Bowl matchup should be a classic. The Broncos' offense stockpiled the most yards and points in the regular season while the Seahawks' defense allowed the fewest yards and points.
The last time the No. 1 scoring offense met the No. 1 scoring defense in the Super Bowl was after the 1990 season, when the Giants and their league-best defense defeated the Bills 20-19.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time the No. 1 offense in yards met the No. 1 defense in yards allowed in the Super Bowl was after the 2002 season, when the Tampa Bay Bucs (best defense) beat the Oakland Raiders (best offense) 48-21.
Since the NFL merger in 1970, 18 other teams have reached the Super Bowl after leading the league in scoring. Those teams went 10-8 in the Super Bowl. The team with the stingiest defense in the regular season has reached the Super Bowl 15 times before the Seahawks. Those teams went 12-3.
If, as the adage goes, "Defense wins championships," then you have to like the Seahawks. They allowed just 14.4 points and 273.6 yards in the regular season. If the game were to be played at Seattle's Century Link Field, where the Seahawks enjoy the biggest home-field advantage in the NFL, they probably would be favored.
But since the game is in East Rutherford, N.J., at MetLife Stadium at the Meadowlands, the Broncos are favored by anywhere from 1-3 points, depending on your bookmaker.
The Broncos, behind future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, averaged 37.9 points and 457.3 yards per game.
If you adhere to the school of thought that says today's NFL is "a quarterback-driven league," you'd have to lean toward Denver.
Manning has the experience of 22 postseason games, and this is his third Super Bowl. His performance against the Patriots on Sunday was one of his best ever. He completed 32 of 43 passes for 400 yards with 2 TD passes and no interceptions for a 118.4 passer rating. But his playoff record is just 11-11, and his performance in cold-weather games is unimpressive. It's expected to be cold on Super Sunday, with a forecast high of 37 and a low of 19.
Second-year QB Russell Wilson becomes just the sixth player in history to start a Super Bowl in his first or second season at quarterback. But he has already played in four postseason games.
There is a wildly inaccurate perception that Wilson has not played well in the second half of the season. In his last nine games, including the 2 playoff victories, Wilson has thrown 12 TD passes and just 3 interceptions, averaging 203 yards per game with a passer rating of 101.9.
And besides, the Seahawks have proven they don't need Wilson to play great to win.
It's difficult to imagine the Broncos winning without a big day by Manning, but how sweet would it be to see him burn Sherman deep for the winning score?
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