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Time Out for Sports Talk – It’s Going To Be (Kind Of) Cold In New Jersey

Todd: You want a prediction?  It’s going to be cold and gray and last for the rest of your life.  I can’t help but quote (or paraphrase) from one of my favorite movies in honor of this being the first ever Super Bowl played on Groundhog Day, especially given how much talk there has been leading up to this game regarding the potential weather conditions.  In actuality, Sunday’s forecast has been a major talking point since the NFL scheduled the 48th installment of their big game for the climes of northern New Jersey.  Mike and I even made references to it last September while making our Super Bowl picks.

Sunday’s forecast has been a major talking point since the NFL scheduled the 48th installment of their big game for the climes of northern New Jersey.  Mike and I even made references to it last September while making our Super Bowl picks.

Speaking of those picks, a couple of weeks back Mike gave himself props in this space for his Patriots-49ers SB prediction while both teams were playing in their respective conference championship games.  In most years and in most blogs that would have been an impressive pick, but let me post the full paragraph I wrote five months ago.

“My Super Bowl prediction is…a blizzard!  Sort of kidding, although this year it could happen (but I think all the hype will go for naught and it’ll just be cold).  As for the teams playing at MetLife Stadium next February, on the 45th anniversary of the only Super Bowl matchup between former/eventual divisional rivals (Jets vs. Colts), I think it will happen again as former AFC West foes Denver and Seattle square off, with the Seahawks stunning the Broncos to win their first Lombardi trophy.”

Bing!  In the words of insurance salesman Ned Ryerson, am I right or am I right?  Now if only I could predict the Powerball numbers that well.  I was even more accurate than Mike when stating that it likely wouldn’t snow or sleet, which speaking for both of us is a real bummer, as we would have enjoyed watching this year’s combatants try to play in arctic conditions.

I should also give some credit to the 2014 Farmer’s Almanac.  If you recall, those folks predicted a significant winter storm would hit the northeast this weekend.  I just read that Winter Storm Maximus (btw I think it’s ridiculous that some news/weather outlets have decided to name winter storms, but that’s a topic for another column) is moving across the country and will reach the east coast late Sunday night.  But unfortunately the storm won’t arrive at MetLife Stadium in time to have any effect on the game itself.Did you readers want us to talk about the weather, or were you just making chit chat?  I guess the big question on everyone’s chapped lips is what we think might happen in terms of the football played.

We are truly being treated to some of the masters of 2013 NFL season, as the top-ranked offense of the Broncos (15-3) goes helmet-to-helmet against the top-ranked defense of the Seahawks (15-3).  For the record, teams with the league’s #1 defense are 12-3 playing in the Super Bowl, while teams that are #1 offensively are only 10-8.  And when the two happen to oppose each other like this year, the defense won in three of the previous four meetings.  Guess the cliché that defense wins championships had to come from somewhere.

Even without knowing those numbers or stats, recent history has shown us that high-powered offenses tend to get slowed down by strong defenses.  As Patriots fans, what better examples do we have than Super Bowls XXXVI and XLII?  The 2001 Rams were hailed as the Greatest Show on Turf until they ran into a scrappy and physical Patriots defense that hit the Rams receivers every chance they had.  Then the 2007 Pats set all kinds of offensive records until they ran into the Giants’ front seven down in the Glendale desert.  Nobody gave either of those defensive-minded teams a chance but they pulled off the two biggest upsets in Super Bowl history.

Now here comes Peyton Manning, who this season tossed 55 touchdown passes to obliterate Tom Brady’s single-season record of 50 set in 2007.  Manning also helped the Broncos score 606 points, which topped the 589 the Pats scored in 2007.  In fact, as I type this I just realized it’s an odd quirk that it’s been six years since the Pats fell to the Giants in that historic Super Bowl, and it was six years before that when the Pats stunned the football world and beat the Rams.  So perhaps it’s time for David to topple Goliath again.

Another factor that plays in Seattle’s favor is that their defense isn’t known for blitzing or offering a variety of different looks to opposing quarterbacks.  In other words, there won’t be much for Manning to dissect or to yell ‘Omaha’ about before the ball is snapped.  The Seahawks are simply a young and talented defensive unit that plays a fast and physical style, not unlike the ’01 Pats or ’07 Giants.

An aspect of this game not receiving much mention at all is the other quarterback.  For the ’01 Pats or ’07 Giants to pull off those upsets, the defense had to play at a top level, but the offenses had to be led by young quarterbacks (Tom Brady and Eli Manning) each playing in their first Super Bowl and needing to show the poise of a capable veteran.  Russell Wilson, the 25-year old signal caller for the Seahawks, appears to be similar in smarts and comportment to those guys.

Because Wilson plays most of his ball 3,000 miles from us, it’s easy to ignore what he’s accomplished at a young age, having thrown 52 touchdown passes and only 19 interceptions in his first two years in the league (to go with a career passer rating of over 100).  He can even run a little too, although has also has the luxury of handing off the ball to the talented Marshawn Lynch.  I think Wilson will rise to the occasion of this big stage as opposed to shrinking from it, and combining his skills with all his teammates should make Seattle hard to beat.

I’ll also admit I’m a little biased between these two teams.  I’ve spent most of my life rooting against the Broncos, going back to the days when John Elway was at quarterback and complaining how he didn’t want to play in Baltimore because it was too cold.  There are all those Broncos wins over the Patriots, not even including the most recent defeat.

On the other side, I always rooted for Seattle as a kid because they were a young expansion team that didn’t win much, especially to their former AFC West rivals from Denver.  I remember players like Jim Zorn and later Dave Krieg throwing to future congressman and Hall of Fame receiver Steve Largent.  I even recall a scrappy, hard working running back named Dan Doornink, who was sort of a Pacific Northwest version of Mosi Tatupu (and while researching him for this column found out he’s a doctor now!).

So I like the Seahawks on Sunday for all the reasons I’ve listed (along with me picking them before the season), along with one of my favorite intangibles: teams wearing white jerseys (which Seattle will) have won eight of the last nine Super Bowls and are 28-19 overall.  Also, the Broncos are 0-2 both time they’ve worn their orange jerseys.  Sorry Peyton, but I predict on this Groundhog Day that even without snow and wind, Seattle’s defense will make you feel like you’re stuck in one place and every play will be exactly the same and nothing you do will matter.  Seahawks 28, Broncos 20.

My final words on game day anyone trekking to the Meadowlands, even with rising temps in the forecast: rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties because it’s cooooold out there!

Mike: OK, OK, I may have jumped the gun a little bit in blowing my horn last week. I was not just wrong, but spectacularly wrong.

But I do need to give Todd credit, he hit the nail right on the head, he called it five months ago, so my hat is off to you.

I have been watching all of the hype this week (I finally got over the Patriots’ loss) and I can’t remember a more closely-matched Super Bowl than this one. While a lot of people seem to be picking Denver to win, all of the scores that I have heard have been close ones.

Before I get into my prediction for the game, I want to touch on the fact that there is a former Patriot on the verge of possibly winning his first Super Bowl.

No, not Wes Welker. Pete Carroll.

The former Patriot coach, who was always “pumped and jacked” to be in Foxborough, has really made the most of his new chance in the NFL. He never really had the talent here with the Patriots, and the franchise wasn’t quite ready to take the giant steps that it eventually did.

But good for Pete, he’s taken a franchise that hasn’t known all that much success to put them on the verge of winning their first Super Bowl, and more importantly, has the Seahawks in a position to be a force in the NFL for many years down the road.

Now, Carroll’s team has a tough task ahead of them as they take on the league’s top offense in the Broncos.

I must admit, I have the same bias that Todd does against the Broncos, for very much the same reasons. But I am really trying to see past that bias when making my pick. For me, it just comes down to the fact that I think the best defense has the advantage over the best offense, especially in the colder weather. I think Seattle will score just enough to overcome Denver in a close one. In fact, what the hell, I’ll predict the first overtime game in Super Bowl history. Seattle wins 24-21.

Check out more Time Out For Sports Talk on Facebook and Twitter. You can watch the TOST show here.

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