3 Reasons Why Denver Will Win The Super Bowl
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Everyone is talking about the upcoming Super Bowl - and rightly so - and giving their opinion on who has the advantage. Whether you're a fan of the Seahawks or the Broncos, on paper it looks like one the most interesting and evenly matched games in quite some time. When you dig deeper, however, there's a few notable advantages that each team has - advantages that will likely be the difference between winning and losing.
Without further ado, here are the three reasons why Denver will be the Super Bowl champions.
Earlier this year, we went into why, without question, Peyton Manning is the superior QB to Tom Brady. We also went into why QB wins, as a statistic, are completely irrelevant; they are the effect and not the cause.
And what did we learn from those lessons?
We learned that Peyton Manning is historically untouchable - both this year and in seasons past. We use a statistic called NEP here at numberFire, which stands for Net Expected Points. It's a defense-adjusted calculation of how a player performs in relation to what a perfectly average player would do in the same situation. And Peyton Manning is, well, the king of NEP. He's been top five in the league during 13 of his 15 seasons, and was the best by a large margin this year.
What's even more notable is that Peyton seems to do his best against the better opponents; over the past five years, he's added an average of 7.81 points to his team's offense each game he's played against a top-10 defense. Against a defense outside of the top 10, he adds 8.13 points of offense. This means that, despite playing much better defenses, his performance remains consistent.
Russell Wilson, on the other hand, falters. Peyton's expected performance drops just 3.9%, while Wilson's drops over 23%.
Though it probably won't be talked about much leading up to the big game, special teams could play a major role in the outcome of this year's Super Bowl.
The Broncos have the upper hand here, starting with their kicker, Matt Prater. According to our analytics, Prater ranked in the top six among all kickers this year in terms of points added, three spots ahead of Seattle's Steven Hauschka. Though the weather could play a role in how often we see these kickers on the field, Denver's got the edge when it comes to three-point tries.
An even bigger advantage that the Broncos have is in terms of kick returning. Not only is Trindon Holiday one of the most explosive returners in the game, but Denver ranked 8th in NEP on special teams this year, while the Seahawks were 22nd. While we'll all be worried about how well Peyton Manning can move up and down the field, getting good field position will help determine that success. Denver should win that battle.
Though Seattle's defense was the best unit in the league this season in terms of NEP, they had an advantage over an opposing offense because their offense ran clock through the ground game. In turn, only seven teams saw fewer plays than Seattle this year, allowing the unit to be healthy and rested when they were on the field.
Denver, however, was first in total plays run this year on offense, showing an ability to extend drives. This means that Seattle may not see their typical time of possession advantage in the Super Bowl. If Denver can sustain longer drives than Seattle is used to seeing, this could turn into a deadly combination given the Broncos' incredible passing efficiency this year (0.36 Passing NEP/P). Early drive third downs will likely be key for Denver, as this will sustain drives and keep the Seattle defense - a unit not used to seeing a high volume of plays - on the field.