I just got back from my trip to the Far East, and I’m excited to share a bit about my travels next week when my body’s clock gets back on track. (It’s all messed up.) But the Super Bowl is Sunday, and naturally, I’ve been thinking about the game.
As a running back, it’s interesting to think about how the running game might play out on either side of the ball. When you can run against a defense, it does a lot of things. It keeps the other team’s offense off the field. It keeps your defense rested so that when it gets on the field, it can make plays. It energizes your team. It tells your opponent, your team and your fans that this is going to be a slugfest, and we’re not backing down. No one wants to deal with someone who is running with passion and determination, making a one-yard run just as authoritative as a 13-yard run. When you run with that kind of tenacity, it wears on a defense. Guys begin to look for help. They don’t want to make one-on-one tackles.
I’ve played a lot against Seattle over the years, and the Seahawks defense is always ranked high against the run. Coach Carroll does a really good job of managing his personnel, and causing disruption. Their defensive line is made up of long, lanky, athletic guys. They don’t just line up and play one technique. They try a lot of different techniques, defensive tackle stunts. With their athleticism and the fact that they’re constantly moving, they do a lot to put an offensive line at a disadvantage. In addition, their secondary does a really good job of tackling and stopping the run on the interior of the defense and the outside edge.
If you call the right running play, you can hurt them. But Coach Carroll and his staff do a great job of scouting. They typically know what formations you like to run, and what your tendencies are on different downs, too.
That will make it tough on Denver’s running game.
On the other hand, when you can run the ball and you run it hard, it introduces an intimidation factor. Seattle has that in Marshawn Lynch.
As a team, Seattle has taken on Marshawn’s personality. It’s a bunch of gritty, tough guys. Marshawn is someone I’ve watched since he was back at Cal. I’ve seen him grow over the years, from Buffalo to now. Bringing Marshawn to Seattle was a really great move by Coach Carroll. It changed the team and the way they play football.
I like Marshawn’s game. He has a low center of gravity, unbelievable balance and very strong legs. Time after time, we’ve seen those plays where he looks like he’s down, but his legs keep moving. The way he runs, he has the ability to take a screen that should only go eight or nine yards, and break it for 30.
EASY DOES IT
Peyton Manning is a fiery, competitive guy. When you watch him, it’s like he’s on cruise control — everything seems to come so easy to him. And it does.
In the past, he had his challenges, maybe with himself more than with any player or coach on the field. He tried to be perfect. And sometimes, that seemed to get the best of him.
But now, I think he has a new appreciation for the game, and that’s why he’s playing some of the best football he has ever played. At this point of his career, it’s kind of crazy to say. But I know that when I had back surgery, I was so much more appreciative when I was finally healthy again, and could play the game.
That’s what we’re seeing from Peyton, and why he’s having the success he’s having. He’s found the perfect balance. He knows he’s not going to play the game forever, so he’s just enjoying it.
Peyton’s very funny. The first time I was at the Pro Bowl, we were at an orientation meeting. They were telling us how to conduct ourselves, and what was to be expected from us that week. Peyton stands up and goes, “Guys, one more thing. No one takes their shirt off around the pool when Steven Jackson’s around.”
First day, first time ever meeting him, he says that in front of the rest of the guys. That made me laugh. It was pretty cool. He’s light-hearted like that.
THE PICK IS…
Overall, Seattle has a better run game and offensive line. Being a cold game will probably keep them in it, and Coach Carroll will have his guys ready. But Denver will win through the air and the hands of Peyton Manning.
There are too many situations that require game clock management where it can come down to the quarterback, and Peyton’s just been there in the big games. He’s also playing in the House of Eli.
Seattle’s defense, especially its secondary, likes to be physical. I don’t see the referees letting them be that physical this game. If they can’t quick jam or stop guys at the line of scrimmage, Denver will be able to throw down the field. Peyton’s very good at getting the ball out of fast. And there are certain quarterbacks who will get pass interference calls in their favor, and Peyton is one of them. Fans want to see touchdowns and scores. When you have someone like Peyton, who throws 30 or 40 times a game, they’re not going to let his receivers get beat up going up and down the field.
There’s just so many things that, to me, point to Peyton and Denver winning the game. Final score: Denver 24, Seattle 20.