The Seattle Seahawks have been steadily improving over the course of the last few seasons, and they have made the jump up to the precipice of success here in the NFL, as they are in the Super Bowl and ready to take that last giant step to get to the Lombardi Trophy for the first time in franchise history. Today, we’re going to break down the five keys to the game for the Seahawks and what they have to do to keep the Denver Broncos from winning their third title.
Key #1: Doug Baldwin and/or Jermaine Kearse have to stretch the field – The Seahawks don’t really have the most innovative passing game in the world, but they do know how to take their shots when they have the opportunity to do so. Baldwin made two massive plays in the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers, both of which setup scores. Kearse of course, had the game-winning touchdown grab in the back of the end zone on fourth down after a flag created a free play situation. Most figure that WR Percy Harvin is going to be providing the speed for the Seahawks when he comes back to the lineup, but we just don’t see it happening that way. Remember that QB Russell Wilson and Harvin have only played together for the equivalent of about one total game, and now isn’t a great time to figure that they are going to hook up seven or eight times for 120 yards. Baldwin especially, is the man that we are keeping an eye on as the key to this game from a Seattle offensive perspective.
Key #2: Richard Sherman needs some help on the outside – No, we don’t mean that Sherman is going to need help covering his man. We know that whomever he is locked up with is going to end up being in for a long day for the Broncos. What we mean is that coverage is going to have to be rolled all over the field to make sure that the rest of these Denver receivers are going to be accounted for. QB Peyton Manning is one of the most cerebral quarterbacks in the league, and he’s going to know where Sherman is at all times. With four different receivers who all had at least 700 yards and all had at least 10 TDs this season, that’s a lot of weapons to try to cover. Sherman isn’t going to be able to do it all for sure, and clearly, S Earl Thomas and S Kam Chancellor are going to need to be at the tip top of their game to keep control of these massive Denver receivers, all of which have good size and strength, outside of the diminutive WR Wes Welker, who is always a pain to try to cover.
Key #3: Seattle must dominate the middle of the Denver offensive line – What we have seen over the course of the season is that the middle of the offensive line for the Broncos has been a lot stronger than anyone expected. In particular, C Manny Ramirez, who is essentially a third center on the roster, has well exceeded expectations. However, Denver hasn’t seen a lot of defensive linemen this year that are as good as what the Seahawks are going to be bringing to the table. The key to pressuring Manning historically in his career is to bring the pressure from right up the gut. The Seahawks don’t blitz all that often, but when they do in this game, they are going to want to do it to put the maximum amount of pressure as possible right in Manning’s face to force him into a quick decision.
Key #4: The Seahawks can’t get away from their ground game – While watching the NFC Championship Game, we sort of wondered why the Seahawks were getting cute and utilizing a lot of play-action passes, especially early on. The bread and butter for this team is to pound the rock, and early in the third quarter when Seattle put the ball in RB Marshawn Lynch’s hands, he took over and led the team down the field for a touchdown. The next thing you knew, after pounding and pounding and pounding and pounding against the best run defense in the game, Lynch busted a 40-yard touchdown run and was having Skittles thrown at him by the fans at CenturyLink Field.
Key #5: Seattle has to have the feel of a team that has been here and done this before – Go ahead and look up and down the roster for the Seahawks. You’re not going to find a whole heck of a lot of players who have ever played in the Super Bowl. We would be a lot more afraid of this if not for Wilson, who is one of the more composed quarterbacks you’ll see under the age of 30 in the NFL. However, this is still a little bit of a concern to us from the defense’s standpoint. Sherman does a lot more talking than most, and with two weeks to have all of this set in, there could be a sense of lost focus. We all know if you lose your focus for a split second against Manning and the Broncos, you can give up 35 points in the blink of an eye. The Seahawks have to stay on their game and act like they have been here before if they are going to have any success at this level against the best team the AFC had to offer this season.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.