Super Broncos Bet: Denver’s defense is peaking at the right time
Post Independent Sports Editor
What’s at stake
Aspen Times reporter Mike McLaughlin and Post Independent sports editor Jon Mitchell have made a bet for Super Bowl XLVIII. Just for some background, McLaughlin is originally from Seattle, and Mitchell was born and raised in Colorado Springs.
If the Seahawks win, Mitchell will don Seahawks garb at the roundabout entering Aspen the morning of Feb. 3, holding up a sign that says something to dog the team he grew up rooting for. If the Broncos win, McLaughlin will be seen the morning of Feb. 3 waving to people driving on Grand Avenue in Glenwood Springs, holding up a sign that says something embarrassing about his beloved Hawks.
Oh, and and loser buys the winner lunch. It just won’t be someplace expensive. We are journalists, after all.
Stay on http://www.postindependent.com to see McLaughlin’s take on Super Bowl XLVIII.
So much for impartiality.
The Denver Broncos have been a favorite for many to win this year’s Super Bowl almost from the beginning of the season. They’ve been a favorite of mine since my age was in single digits, but they weren’t my favorite to win the big game in New Jersey in the middle of this season.
Denver had a swiss-cheese defensive secondary, and Peyton Manning had a label of not being able to play well in the cold. And the Broncos’ defensive line, to quote Richard Sherman’s assessment of Michael Crabtree, was “MEDIOCRE.”
It’s pretty simple, really. No football team, no matter how good the game plan or offense is, can go into a game feeling like it has to score no less than five touchdowns to win. Denver’s 51-48 victory over Dallas on Oct. 6 — a game where the final point total nearly reached the century mark — was a pretty good example of that. A championship team that scores 51 points in a game should have unloaded its bench at halftime instead of trying to keep its opponent out of field goal range.
Suffice to say, the Broncos’ record-breaking offense made them a victim of their own success.
Denver’s offense this season practically scored at will. Peyton Manning will have more than 60 — 60! — touchdown passes by the time Sunday’s game ends. To top it off, five different players on Denver’s roster have scored 10 or more touchdowns. The problem with that, however, is that many of them were scored after the Broncos flew down the field to the end zone in 3 minutes or less.
Thanks to that, though, Denver’s defense ended up being on the field twice as long as it needed to be, thereby leaving more time for their opponents’ offenses to score. And they did. A lot. Only 10 other teams in the NFL gave up more than the 399 points the Broncos relinquished, and all but one of them — save the Green Bay Packers — missed the postseason.
But during the postseason, Denver’s offense helped its defense get better. The Broncos went from being the “Hurry! Hurry!” offense it was to being the methodical, no-huddle threat it’s been in the playoffs. Touchdown drives are lasting 8 minutes instead of 3 and, thanks in part to that, Denver is allowing 16.5 points per game in the postseason as opposed to the 25 it allowed during the regular season.
This postseason stretch proves two things. First, it proves that Denver’s offense is diverse enough to score at will, meaning it can not only score on time-consuming drives, but 2-minute scoring marches shouldn’t be a problem either. Second, Denver’s defense has improved remarkably, and it seems to be peaking at the right time.
And it will peak on Sunday. Final score: Denver 27, Seattle 17.
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