When we last got together for a City of Champions NFL picks column, it was conference championship Sunday.
We had a three-way tie for the lead entering the action that weekend, and now two men stand at the top of the standings after going 1-1: staff writers Larry Snyder and Zac Weiss. Co-editor Matt Shetler went with both road teams and fell out of the lead as a result.
Meanwhile, in the second division, I turned in a third consecutive .500 week while Brett Tunno and Erin McDowell surged out of the cellar with a pair of wins each. We are all tied at 5-5 entering the Super Bowl.
With Snyder and Weiss at 7-3 and Shetler at 6-4, the executive decision has been made to have the Super Bowl count for double value. That means everyone is still in it, theoretically. Any ties will be broken via this week’s pick, including the team chosen and the projected final score, if needed.
Here we go!
Snyder: I think Peyton Manning will keep his cool and line enough of his “ducks” up in a row to pull off the win over the Seahawks. The Broncos’ run defense allowed only one 100-yard rusher all season and if they disrupt the Seahawks run-first attack and Marshawn Lynch, then they put the game on the shoulders of Russell Wilson. I am not sure if Wilson is ready to step in to the spotlight on football’s biggest stage. This game could come down to a Wilson turnover in the fourth quarter.
Manning’s trio of wide receivers, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker – along with tight end Julius Thomas – combined for 4,284 yards and 47 touchdowns. Can Seattle’s vaunted secondary have enough to lock down all of Manning’s targets for four quarters? Prediction: Broncos 27, Seahawks 24.
Weiss: This matchup features the league’s No. 1 offense (Broncos) versus the No. 1 defense (Seahawks). To me it comes down to experience as the Broncos have it. From Manning to Champ Bailey this Broncos team has more time in the NFL. The Broncos play without talking, which I appreciate as well.
I think the Seahawks have more to prove and will come out nervous. The question is whether they can recover in time. I don’t think they do. Broncos 28, Seahawks 20.
Shetler: I’m taking Seattle based on the notion that defense wins championships and the Seahawks have had success slowing down great signal-callers this season. Defensively, they may not sack Manning a lot but they will rush him plenty and prevent him from getting into a rhythm.
Offensively, Lynch will have a big day and Wilson always seems to make a big play to win a game. If this game were in a dome I would like the Broncos big but in New York I believe the elements will favor the defensive team. Seahawks win the Lombardi Trophy in a great game to watch. Seahawks 28, Broncos 20.
Matt Gajtka: The Broncos may have caught a break with this week’s milder-than-expected forecast, but it’s not like a team from Denver would be too bothered by below-freezing temperatures. As it stands though, Manning shouldn’t have any reason to reign in the AFC champs’ attack.
That’s good for Denver, because there will be plays to be made against the Broncos’ defense. There has been much said about Wilson’s lack of experience, but as we saw in Ben Roethlisberger‘s run to the Super Bowl eight years ago (if not the big game itself), that factor tends to be overrated. Everyone’s nervous in a championship setting.
The difference-maker for me is the Seahawks’ defense. They will have just enough success to give their balanced offense an opportunity to nose ahead. It comes down to the fourth quarter, but Seattle holds on. Seahawks 35, Broncos 31.