CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES RECORD:
DAN K: 1-1
DAN K: 32-29-4
DENVER BRONCOS -2.5 VS SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
ESPO: Hey, did you guys hear the Super Bowl is playing outside, in the cold? Ohhhh mahhhh gawwwwwd! What if it snows? What if it’s rully rully cold guys? First of all, if you have the slightest objection to the precious Super Bowl not being played in Miami or in a dome, fuck off. This is one of the best things the NFL has done in a long time. In fact, I’ve got to give it up to Roger Goodell here, who has been a big proponent of this cold weather Super Bowl. He says it’s a part of what separates football from the other sports, and he’s right. I can’t wait. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s probably going to be just regular ole’ “pretty, pretty cold”, no biblical snowstorm or anything. But fuck. That’s awesome. I’m a big fan of betting the Super Bowl with your heart, especially in a game with a close spread like this. If your own team is in it, that’s a different story, but the Super Bowl is supposed to be fun. Bet on who you want to root for. It’s the culmination of an NFL season full of craziness. Injuries, suspensions, drama, trades, the terrifying lows, the dizzying highs, the creaaamy middles… I want to live, Marge, WHY WON’T YOU LET ME LIVE?! That being said – Go. Fucking. SEAHAWKS! I can’t get enough of this team. Marshawn Lynch, the most Oaktown man in sports history. I’m jus bout dat action, bawse. I’M JUS BOUT DAT ACTION, BAWSE Fuck. Yes. Richard THE MOUTH Sherman. The most polarizing defensive back since… uhhh… I don’t know. Derrick Coleman, deaf fullback who defied all the odds. Russell, THE ICEMAN, Wilson. Yesss. Sign me up. This team rules. Fuck vanilla-ass Denver. Yeah, I know, the story is set up for Peyton to cap off his record-setting season with his long-awaited second Super Bowl ring. Blah blah, Wes Welker, Knowshon Moreno, blah blah blahdy fucking blah. Fuck them and their orange fucking fanbase. Listen, I know what you’re saying. Oh, Espo’s just a bitter Patriots fan, he’s gay for Tom Brady, he’s bitter about Welker, he’s rooting against Denver because they beat New England, et cetera et cetera. And… you might be partially right. But not really. I mean, in my heart of hearts I knew the Patriots didn’t have the horses to make it all the way. That Denver game was fairly predictable, in all honesty. The Pats had seven possessions, not counting the 25 second one at the end of the game. Peyton just chewed the unmerciful shit out of the clock on every single drive. The Patriots could muster up absolutely no pass rush, and once Talib left the game, it was all but over. By the time the Pats finally got some mojo, there was just not enough time left. But they scored 26 points. 24 against San Diego. I know, they weren’t really in the position where they had to start charging down the field, but those are two very mediocre defenses that they put those scores up on. What will the Seahawks do to them with their suffocating secondary and formidable pass rush? People can say what they want about Sherman, but he’s a true student of the game. I guarantee he’s watched every single one of Manning’s games this year, plus probably last year as well as his last several postseason games. Seattle will be ready for his Omaha-shouting ass. It’s not going to be a cakewalk – Demariyus Thomas and Julius Thomas specifically pose big matchup problems for a Seattle secondary sans their big strong workhorse, Brandon Browner. Seattle’s been vulnerable against the run, which is a look Manning is never afraid to go to. I don’t know how this game will go. No one does. That’s why we watch. But my money’s on Seattle. And I can’t wait.
THE PICK: SEAHAWKS +2.5
DAN K: Well, this is it. A fun season of gambling comes to an end. Sure, you can wager on lesser sports like hockey, basketball, or the Southern Croatia Amateur Handball League, but there’s nothing like settling in on a football Sunday with a (metaphorical) ticket in your (metaphorical) hand. The post-Superbowl hangover is always horrifying when you realize you have to figure out another way to occupy your time for a few months. There’s a good reason Hunter S. Thompson put “Football season is over” in his suicide note. Anyway, let’s get to it and try to make some money. This was pretty much the most exciting possible matchup we could have gotten – the undisputed best offense in the NFL versus the undisputed best defense. Force, immovable object, etc. You’ve heard this ad nauseaum, but this is the first cold-weather Super Bowl in the modern era. The weather looks like it won’t be much of an factor, aside from the temperature, which kind of sucks for those of us (anyone with a brain) who want a SNOW BOWL. So obviously, Manning had the best season of his career this year, has a stable of great receivers, great running game, you know all that. Manning can pick the Seahawks apart if they don’t get a pass rush from the line – I think if Seattle wants to counteract all of Manning’s Omaha bullshit, they have to get in his face only rushing 3 or 4 players – if they sell out and blitz, Manning will burn them badly. Luckily, Seattle has the secondary to give the aforementioned pass rush that crucial extra second or two they need to get past the line and throw Peyton off his game the only way possible – driving him into the ghat damn dirt. As an aside, I really hope Richard Sherman doesn’t get beaten badly because of all the ammo it will give the dumbest people on the face of the earth. He’s backed his talk up to date though, so I wouldn’t be too worried. I don’t think that Denver will be able to get much from the running game either considering that Seattle held Frank Gore to 14 yards two weeks ago. On the other side of the ball, it’s pretty clear that Denver has the most potent offense of the two but Seattle are no slouches in their own right. Russell Wilson hasn’t done much statistically in the second half of the season and the playoffs, but when a throw needs to be made he makes it. Percy Harvin looks like he’ll be available but who knows how effective he’ll be. Obviously the centerpiece of the Seattle offense is BEAST MODE and he will come to play. I don’t really care how good a defense has been playing (Denver did a great job defending the run in recent weeks), Lynch is powerful enough to break through any d-line – the Niners defense is one of the top 5 in the league and Lynch was able to bulldoze them for 109 yards. Speaking of Lynch, I guess I should address the only controversy that was dumb enough to override the massive Care Overload resulting from Sherman daring to yell on TV, Lynch not wanting to participate in the utterly useless media day. It’s telling that you don’t hear a single fan that isn’t in the “TD Celebrations = Bad” crowd – and those people are racists who would be mad at Lynch no matter what, complaining about it. It’s just angry hack sportswriters. Yeah, the fans really missed out by not hearing a reporter from the Turkmenistan Agricultural Press asking Lynch who his favorite Pokemon was. Alright, rant over, time to pick. This was actually the easiest pick for me to make all playoffs and I knew it right when the line opened – I’ll always take the better defense in the Super Bowl. Remember how everyone thought the Patriots were going to destroy the Giants in their first matchup? Brady and company were basically unstoppable in the regular season and they got beaten by a team with a beastly defense that could get pressure with the front line. Sound familiar? Many people haven’t learned from their mistake, seeing as how 75% of the public is betting on Manning. The line opened at Denver -1 and has moved to Denver -2.5 or -3 in some places because casual bettors are hammering the side with a HOF QB. Seattle all the way, I ain’t even scared. Also take the under in this one. It’s been a pleasure gambling with you, folks.
THE PICK: SEAHAWKS +2.5
DICK: Sentimentality and wishes are wonderful. I wish that Peyton Manning was on his way to four Super Bowl wins and the opportunity to go out on top. However, I know that Peyton Manning has already blown one Super Bowl against a mediocre defense (New Orleans) and is facing a potentially all-time great level defense on Sunday. Every time I sit down and look at this game I can’t help but think about how Seattle is simply a bigger, stronger, faster, and more physical team than Denver. When the fight in the phone booth starts on the line of scrimmage Seattle has the match ups. When Denver’s receivers start downfield they are going to get jammed at the line, bumped in the first five yards, and mauled after they catch the ball. Julius Thomas and Demaryius Thomas’ size, skill, and ability and Wes Welker’s knack for finding openings inside tight spaces will give the Seahawks fits. but they are a throwback to the Steelers of the 70’s. They play straight up power football on both sides of the ball, especially defense. There are no disguises, no hidden coverages, no weak links that an offense can pick at. What it comes down to is whether or not Manning can decipher the Seahawks and beat them outright. Now here’s the thing: Denver’s biggest chance comes from running three-receiver sets that will put Seattle into nickel coverage and stymie their ability to blitz. It will also put far more pressure on Seattle’s front four to get to the quarterback and contain Knowshon Moreno when he runs the ball. Bank this, no matter what sets and formations Manning runs from the Seahawks are going to come straight at the Broncos. If the Seahawks fall for Manning’s histrionics and dummy audibles, the game is over, but my feeling is that they will drown out his OMAHA STEAKS endorsements and play a ton of man to man coverage and just maul his receivers off the snap. Denver’s best chance is to bunch and stack receivers on one side so they can set picks for one another to establish the short passing game, but how effective the Broncos’ receivers will be after the catch is debatable. Seattle tackles hard and efficiently, so what might be a 15 yard catch and run becomes a modest four or five yard gain against Seattle. Watch Kam Chancellor in the first quarter. If Welker tries some dodgy, but legal pick move across the middle like he did against New England, Chancellor is going to fuck him up. The real key for Seattle will be to control the ball on offense. If Beast gets going and is running downhill by the middle of the second quarter Seattle could put the clamps on the game simply by denying Manning the opportunity to get into a rhythm. Speaking of which, Manning’s game relies on timing. ESPN ran a stat a week ago explaining that he releases the ball on average 1.9 seconds off the snap. Now, imagine if his receivers are not allowed to release off the line of scrimmage because Richard Sherman and friends are hand checking them immediately? Imagine what that means for Manning when he has to wait in the pocket for his guys to get open and those happy feet of his start tapping away? One other thing, if the refs start the game by calling a bunch of penalties on Seattle’s defense the game will open up and shift in Manning’s favor. If Seattle is allowed to play, they win outright. Also, no one is really talking about Russell Wilson. Manning and his matchup against the best defense in football deserves the ink, but keep this in mind: Denver’s defense sucks. They suck against the run, they suck against the pass, and the just suck in general. If Wilson is able to keep plays alive and is able to rely on Marshawn Lynch and can get the ball to Harvin a few times, Seattle can pry open Denver’s defense and hang 30 points on them. Why? Because again, Seattle is bigger, stronger, and faster. They hit harder, they are more physical, and they are straight up better than the Broncos, Manning on the field or not.
THE PICK: SEAHAWKS +2.5