SEATTLE — Redemption. Rematch. Replay. Re-do.
The Denver Broncos (2-0) come into town Sunday to face the Seahawks (1-1) for the first time in the regular season since the Seahawks’ utter beatdown of the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.
And be sure, no matter what either team says or what sports cliches have been thrown out in previous week, both teams remember the score from last February’s big game.
Though the pain of one being on the losing side of one of any Super Bowl’s most lopsided scores will never completely go away, the Broncos and Peyton Manning can go a long way in their healing process by beating the Seahawks Sunday in front of the 12s. Off-season acquisitions like defensive end DeMarcus Ware have shored up an otherwise shaky defense. But can an offense — that has shown offensive line trouble — protect an aging Manning long enough for him to the throw the ball?
The Seahawks, on the other hand, are licking fresher wounds. A 21-30 loss to the San Diego Chargers last week exposed chinks in the armor. Was the loss an anomaly, or did Phillip Rivers and the Chargers offense finally “crack the code,” as the pundits say? And will Manning — a lover of the same dink and dunk offense Rivers used to his advantage — continue to expose weaknesses?
5 Things to watch for in the Sunday’s Broncos vs. Seahawks matchup
5. The Rematch Hype — This is the first time in 17 years two teams who played each other in the Super Bowl play each other in the next regular season. Though the game isn’t prime time, it is still one of the most talked about matchups of Sunday. Peyton vs. the defense. Richard Sherman vs. Peyton’s arm. The crowd noise vs. Peyton.
All of these topics are sure to be covered in the next few days, and be referenced again in the broadcast. It should be interesting to watch the rematch analysis, and watch to see how much of that analysis indeed comes true.
4. Wes Welker — Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker was reinstated this week, serving two games of a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Welker is a key asset to Peyton’s offense, catching 73 passes last year for 10 touchdowns and 778 yards. But Welker could be out of practice, only being on the field since labor day after suffering one of his numerous concussions.
Welker claims he’s sharp, but it’s hard to miss practice time and game time only to face one of the league’s toughest defenses in the loudest stadium in the NFL.
3. The Second Half — In Super Bowl XLVIII, the Seahawks opened the second half with Percy Harvin’s 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. If the Seahawks see more of the same Sunday, it will surely spell victory for the home team.
Denver’s has struggled in the first two games of the season after halftime. The team has allowed an average of 237.5 yards after half. All six of Peyton’s TD passes have come in the first half of both games. The Broncos have managed just one touchdown drive in the second half. If the Hawks and Broncos are close after the first 30 minutes, expect a Seahawks victory.
2. Richard Sherman — There was much hype last week surrounding Richard Sherman’s decision not to give post-game remarks. But it’s his on-field performance that should have garnered the attention.
An in-depth analysis on FieldGulls.com shows Sherman was fooled multiple times in the game on man-to-man coverage calling his play “a little concerning.” Sherman, however, finds a laugh in suggestions that he was exposed.
We have faith in Sherman, but look for Peyton to test him.
1. The pocket passer and the dink and dunk — The Chargers dominated in time of possession last week against the Seahawks, holding the ball for 42 minutes to the Seahawks’ 18. They did this with quick passes and slants, causing just enough misses in the secondary to take the offense from what could have been 3rd-and-6 yards to a more manageable 3rd-and-3 yard conversions.
Peyton Manning, the epitome of the stand-up pocket passer, loves this dink and dunk style of play. Look for him to try — if he has enough pass protection — and complete the short passes and dominate time of possession. If he can accomplish this it could be a long game for the home team favorites.