Yesterday we looked at how the Broncos offense and Seahawks defense played this past season and now we switch the roles focusing on the Broncos defense and Seahawks offense. The scales here are essentially how I do my efficiency ratings except for yardage rather than scores. As a quick example the Broncos passed for an average of 340.2 yards per game against a schedule that allowed just 239.8 yards per game which translates into an efficiency rating of 41.9% which is incredibly high for this type of category.
Seahawks Pass Offense vs Broncos Pass Defense
While there seems to be a perception that Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is along for the ride with this team the numbers really do paint a different story. While he is protected by scheme (the Seahawks have thrown the ball 26% less times than expected based on opponent) he is incredibly productive when he does throw the football. His explosive plays on a per attempt basis are actually more impressive than the Broncos offensive output. Really the only category in which he is below average is yards per game and that is because the attempts are so low.
The Broncos defense has been below average in almost every category except completion percentage and the monster 40+ yard pass play. In some cases they were likely affected by big leads and laying off on defense, but overall this was not a good year for the defense. The big play is a big part of the Seahawks offense so if the Broncos prevent that big pass they will do something important. The only other category where Denver should do decent is sacks, where Denver is not great but the Seahawks offense is poor.
Seahawks Run Offense vs Broncos Run Defense
An interesting matchup as the Broncos have overall been strong at stopping the run with the exception of the 20 yard runs and touchdowns, which perhaps shows an issue with short yardage spots. Seattle’s run offense is productive in part because they run the ball so much, but an attempt basis they are above average but by no means great.
Seattle are grinders on the ground and don’t produce big plays which will make it more difficult to take advantage of that weakness in the Denver D. If the game is close and the Seahawks run the ball as often as they have all year Denver will need to prove that they can stand up to that kind of run for so many attempts and still be effective. If they can the Seahawks may have to rely on the pass more than they have this year.
If the teams played to around their norms we would expect the Seahawks to pass around 28 times and complete between 50 and 60% of their passes, leading to around 220 yards of offense which is not that far off from our projection for Manning of 240-260 yards. Wilson would probably be looking at 4 plays of 20 or more yards and being sacked 3 times. Flip categories would be interceptions and the 40 yard play. If Wilson comes out of the day without an interception it might be a long day for the Broncos. For the run game we would probably be looking at something between 120 and 130 yards at a 3.9 to 4.0 clip.
Scoring wise the Seahawks have been very effective this year. The team is putting up 17.2% more points than expected while the Broncos are allowing around 10% more. That would be the worst defensive efficiency to ever win a Super Bowl. I believe the worst currently is Manning’s 2006 Colts that were at 8%. Only 5 Super Bowl champs have put up below average numbers on preventing scoring and most were right around the average.
Based on those numbers Seattle should put up around 29 points which is more than is projected for the Broncos against the Seahawk defense. Obviously teams don’t always play to these averages and in games like this teams can be tight early such as the 49ers last year when they were done in by a terrible start against a team they should have beaten. If Seattle can avoid the early game jitters and falling behind they should have an excellent chance to win the Super Bowl.