The Seattle Slew

Seattle Sports. Through thick and thin

Super Bowl Matchup-a Toxic Explosion

No, I’m not referring to the masses of fans that will be running to the bathroom after consuming inordinate amounts of bean dip, I’m talking about a key measure to look for in determining the winner of the Superbowl.

With all the craziness surrounding one Richard Sherman over a fairly innocuous post game interview, there has been little talked about the rest of the team, and a certain big game coming up called the Super Bowl. I’ve been pretty quiet this week, soaking in all of the Sherman “controversy” as well as looking at game film, reading news articles, and trying to get a good feel for this Denver Broncos team.

I haven’t seen a lot of Broncos game film yet, as I’m pretty sure I’ll just be seeing a bunch of Peyton Manning throws for touchdowns. One thing that I’ll be looking for though, is how teams like the Chargers and the Patriots were able to have success against the Broncos.

Let me just get one thing out of the way first: The Seattle Seahawks are the better and more talented team, and should win the Superbowl. If you try us with a sorry team like the Broncos, this is the result you are going to get. Totally kidding-I respect the hell out of the Broncos of course, and this will probably a see-saw battle that can go either way. But if the Hawks play their game, they win.

On paper, it sounds lovely. But of course, there’s so many other factors that go into winning a football game. I believe the game has a lot to do with external X-factors, such as experience, clutch play, weather conditions, momentum of the game, etc…but make no mistake, the Seahawks have the better roster up and down. There’s really no weaknesses on the Seattle team. Even their much criticized offense, whom many have called average or “pedestrian”, has been anything but. The Seahawks offense finished 7th in the league overall, and put up 23 points on great defenses with the 49ers and the Saints. They have struggled in key areas like 3rd down conversion and red zone opportunities, but they’ve also played some really good defenses lately.

Let me also admit that I haven’t watch a lot of Broncos games yet….the facts on this post are taken mostly from my understanding of the Seahawks team, as well as a great website for advanced statistics called www.sportingcharts.com.

This point of this post (I know you were waiting for it) is a big key to whoever wins this game, what I refer to as the Toxic Explosion stat. Sporting Charts calls it Toxic differential, but I think Toxic Explosion is both more descriptive and yet, undeniably revolting at the same time.  What it means in common terms, is big plays. Big, momentum changing, amazing, EXPLOSIVE plays. There are two key areas of the game that defines a Toxic Explosive play:

Turnovers

The Seahawks led the league by a large margin in the turnover battle at +20. That means he took the ball away 20 more times than they gave it up. This is in thanks in large part to Pete Carroll’s philosophy, of taking the ball from the other team by any means necessary, as well as protecting the ball to a fault on offense. Pete Carroll’s entire practice schedule on thursdays is dedicated to focusing on turnovers. He calls it “turnover Thursdays”. I don’t really know that goes into those practices, I would imagine it consists of guys trying to wrestle the ball out from other guys, defenders trying to harass and confuse Russell Wilson, and a bunch of guys dancing to Rick Ross in the locker room.

The Seahawks are masters at taking the ball away, so Peyton Manning will need to be at his absolute sharpest to make sure he’s not chucking it into the legion of boom, and the Broncos running backs will need to protect the ball with both hands. Peyton had 16 turnovers this year, 10 picks and 6 fumbles. As a team the Broncos turned the ball over 26 times. That’s almost 2 turnovers a game. That won’t cut it against a Seahawks team that led the league with 39 takeaways on defense.

On the other side of the ball, the Broncos had a fairly good amount of takeaways. The Broncos overall turnover margin was zero. Meaning they also took the ball 26 times on defense. They gave the ball up exactly the same amount of times they got it from the other team. The Seahawks gave up the ball 19 times in the regular season. 9 interceptions from Russell Wilson, which is very good for the Seahawks.

What this all means is that the Seahawks will be looking to feast on turnover opportunities. They are a ball-hawking, pun intended, defense, led by the wide receiver who plays cornerback by the name of Richard Sherman. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. The rest of the secondary is not bad themselves. Earl Thomas is like the Nightcrawler, in the sense he just appears out of thin air sometimes. Kam Chancellor is a locomotive train with legs. The rest of the corners are deep and good enough to start for any team outside of Seattle. The front seven is just as ferocious, dropping back to make picks in short routes, and coming at Peyton from all angles to rip the ball from him.

If the Broncos can take care of the ball, and make a play or two on defense to even the turnover battle, that is advantage Broncos.

Explosive Plays

Pretty much self explanatory. No? Okay let me explain. An explosive play means a play that results in 20 yards or more. These are usually long bombs, big running plays, and things of that nature. Unfortunately for the Broncos, the Seahawks also dominate in this category and its not even close.

To start with the offense, the biggest reason the Seahawks are explosive, is the arm of their young QB. Russell Wilson has one of the best deep balls in the game, evidenced by his completion percentage on deep throws, as well as his average yards per attempt. If you haven’t heard, he also has freakishly large hands that make it easy for him to grip and rip. It doesn’t end with Wilson…Golden Tate leads the league in YAC, which means yards after the catch. Basically, Golden Tate is like a running back playing wide receiver. Once the ball is in his hands, Tate is great at breaking tackles, and getting downfield. Doug Baldwin is an underrated playmaker.

And don’t forget about Percy Harvin. This guy defines explosive plays. Not only does he have the speed and elusiveness to make big plays happen, he is also surprisingly tough to bring down, despite what critics refer to him as (soft). Denver does not have a great secondary according to my limited knowledge and anecdotal evidence of talking to one Broncos fan, so look for the Hawks to exploit that.

On the other side of the ball, safety Earl Thomas is a freak of a nature. Earl Thomas eliminates post routes and seam routes (long balls) which is something the Broncos like to try every so often. The Seahawks defense is built on not allowing big plays. Despite what people think, the Seahawks do not play a lot of bump and run. They will, but their bread and butter is the cover 3 defense. Basically what that means is that Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell play the 3 deep portions of the field. Their primary goal is to not let wideouts beat them deep. Some teams this year have been able to beat the coverage, namely the Colts with TY Hilton, but it hasn’t happened very often.

The Seahawks are +46 in the explosive play category….meaning they had 46 more explosive plays than they allowed. That is big time.

The Broncos are only +17. I know that the offense has been made plenty of big plays, with their wideouts and great tight end, so that tells me their secondary is liable to get burned deep.

If you are looking for fireworks on Superbowl Sunday, the Seahawks are the team that is most likely to provide it. Pete Carroll is a big believer in momentum and game changing plays, and he has been preaching that to his young team ever since he arrived in Seattle.

If you want a good laugh by the way, watch this video: 

Get your popcorn ready.

Categories: NFL and Seahawks

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  1. Final Thoughts-Superbowl Scenarios | The Seattle Slew
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