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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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SUPER BOWL XLVIII - 6:30 PM EST

Prediction: SEA 24, DEN 30 (Line: DEN by 2.5)

Here we are. The best offense versus the best defense hopefully not in deep snow with howling winds. The Super Bowl is played outdoors in MetLife Stadium in balmy New Jersey. The forecast is for temperatures right around freezing but no snow and only a light wind. That still doesn't favor the passing game of the Broncos nearly as much as the defense of the Seahawks. These teams never played each other this season and have not met since back in 2010 when both teams were very different.

Not many common opponents between these teams this year. Both played at Houston and while the Seahawks scrapped past with a three point win and the Broncos bombed them 37-13, the Texans were a shell of their early-season self by the time the Broncos showed up. Both lost in Indianapolis by exactly six points though notable that the Colts scored 34 points on the Seahawks and 39 on the Broncos. But that game had the "Manning back home" angle on it as well. Both teams had no problem with the Jaguars though while the Seahawks beat the Titans 20-13, the Broncos rolled up a 51-28 win.

The bottom line to this game is the clash of the Denver offense and the Seattle defense. The Seahawks are only average on offense at best and in road games not even that. Seattle has not played in a road game since back in week 15 of the NFL season. They held a 6-2 road mark during the season with losses in Indy and San Francisco.

The Broncos were also 6-2 on the road with losses in Indy and New England when they squandered a huge lead.

1 @CAR 12-7 10 @ATL 33-10
2 SF 29-3 11 MIN 41-20
3 JAC 45-17 13 NO 34-7
4 @HOU 23-20 14 @SF 17-19
5 @IND 28-34 15 @NYG 23-0
6 TEN 20-13 16 ARI 10-17
7 @ARI 34-22 17 STL 27-9
8 @STL 14-9 19 NO 23-15
9 TB 27-24 20 SF 23-17
News | Statistics | Roster
Rush Catch Pass
QB Russell Wilson 20 - 240,1
RB Marshawn Lynch 80,1 - -
TE Zach Miller - 1-15 -
WR Percy Harvin 20 - -
WR Doug Baldwin - 6-80,1 -
WR Jermaine Kearse - 2-30 -
WR Golden Tate - 5-80 -
PK Steve Hauschka 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: Two games into the playoffs and the Seahawks have produced roughly the same score in each. They limited both the 49ers and Saints to sub-20 point games while scoring two touchdowns and kicking three field goals in both. The only truly productive part of the offense has been Marshawn Lynch. He ran for 140 yards and two scores on 28 carries against the Saints and then 109 yards and one touchdown on 22 runs versus the 49ers. Russell Wilson passed for only 215 yards in that game and only 103 yards versus the Saints.

What the Seahawks must do is control the scoreboard and slow down the Broncos. The Seahawks do not have a "catch up" sort of offense. Wilson only passed for 300+ yards in two games all year and that was in the opener in Carolina and later a home game against. In fairness, he rarely had to throw that much given that the Seahawks at home were so dominating and even on the road the defense never allowed more than 22 points other than the 34 point effort by the Colts.

Wilson is one of those quarterbacks who just does what is needed to win. Nothing less but rarely much more. His stock in trade has been playing nearly error-free and controlling the tempo of the game thanks to Lynch and the rushing effort. The Seahawks rarely every scored more than 24 points in a game and when they did it was mostly against weak opponents.

The Seahawks know they cannot get into a shootout and their defense should manage to prevent it from happening at least too quickly. The Broncos have been weaker against the pass but only because they run up every score and force every opponent to throw the ball more often. The difference this week will be that the Seahawks are on the road and that doesn't normally go nearly so well as when they are at home in their insanely loud stadium.

Lynch scored twelve times this year when at home but only five times on the road. His production is almost entirely based on volume of carries and while he has averaged 24 runs in the last three games played, he only averaged 17.5 carries for 78 yards in his road games this year and that includes the 145 yards he gained in Atlanta. In road games this year, the Broncos never allowed more than 58 rushing yards other than the one time that Jamaal Charles gained 93 yards and yet thanks to near constant lead held by the Broncos, opponents never had any runner with more than 19 carries in a home game.

The Broncos also allowed just five rushing touchdowns in their eight road games this year. The fact that Lynch (or any other running back) doesn't do much as a receiver limits him significantly when the Seahawks start to trail in games.

Percy Harvin is slated to play without any limitation from his recent concussion but he's been a nonfactor all year and played in just two games. Against the Saints he only managed three catches for 21 yards and was seriously crushed on two of those plays. Jermaine Kearse never produced more than 75 yards in any game and typically never more than 40 yards but he did score five times including against the 49ers two weeks ago in the only receiving touchdown by the Seahawks in the playoffs so far.

Golden Tate scored five times this year but his best two games both went against the Rams and he scored just once outside of his own division and never gained more than 88 yards in those games.

Doug Baldwin should have the best game here since his five touchdowns all went against non-divisional opponents and his 106 yards on six catches versus the 49ers was double what any other Seahawk receiver did in the first two playoff games. Zach Miller should be a nonfactor in this game since his role in road games has been mostly limited to blocking and catching one pass.

I like the chance for a defense/special teams score here.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SEA 7 16 22 23 4 3
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 24 19 19 27 12 9

 

1 BAL 49-27 11 KC 27-17
2 @NYG 41-23 12 @NE 31-34
3 OAK 37-21 13 @KC 35-28
4 PHI 52-20 14 TEN 51-28
5 @DAL 51-48 15 SD 20-27
6 JAC 35-19 16 @HOU 37-13
7 @IND 33-39 17 @OAK 34-14
8 WAS 45-21 19 SD 24-17
10 @SD 28-20 20 NE 26-16
News | Statistics | Roster
Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning - - 310,2
RB Knowshon Moreno 70,1 2-20 -
RB Monte Ball 40 - -
TE Julius Thomas - 8-85,1 -
WR Eric Decker - 4-70 -
WR Demaryius Thomas - 3-50 -
WR Wes Welker - 7-75,1 -
PK Matt Prater 3 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: This is a chance for Peyton Manning to really pump up his legend and yet this is also going to be the coldest Super Bowl ever. That does not, historically speaking, bode well for Manning despite playing all his home games in Denver the last two years. He has never thrown for fewer than two touchdowns in any game this year and he just compensated for his worst game of the year (150 yards @NE) by posting 400 yards on the same Patriots two weeks ago in the Championship game.

Make no mistake. This is Manning's Super Bowl as far as the media is concerned. He will embody the success or failure by the Broncos. He's the default MVP unless someone else does something really notable.

The Seahawks have allowed two quarterbacks (Drew Brees and Matt Schaub) to pass for more than 300 yards but 11 opponents were held under 200 yards passing. Only three quarterbacks were able to pass for two touchdowns on the Seahawks and so far no one has thrown for three or more on them this year. This is an outstanding secondary.

Where the Denver difference can be made is that the Seahawks do not have the luxury of just worrying about one or two wideouts. The Broncos bring in Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Cover all three and Julius Thomas will kill you. Somehow take care of all four and Knowshon Moreno is there as he was seven times this season where he caught five or more passes.

Only three wideouts topped 100 yards on the Seahawks - Andre Johnson (9-110), Marques Colston (11-139, TD) and T.Y. Hilton (5-140, 2 TD). Richard Sherman will be tasked with Thomas though perhaps not on every play depending on how much they want to move him around. But Thomas is weapon #1 and deserving of the premier coverage.

The Broncos have settled into a two-man backfield with Montee Ball running around ten times per game while Knowshon Moreno takes the heavier load with 15+ carries and at least a catch or two. Moreno's role as a receiver could be significant. He gained 72 yards and a score on four catches in Kansas City against the toughest defense to date. But if he needs to pass block to protect Manning he may have no catches which happened in the other meeting with the Chiefs. That all depends on how aggressive the Seahawks will be in blitzing Manning.

The Seahawks allowed three different runners to top 100 yards against them this year and they'll be plenty worried about the pass anyway. Given the split between Moreno and Ball already, chances are neither will post big yardage unless it goes far better for the Denver offense than expected and more so for the Denver defense holding the Seahawks at bay. Regardless, there is a good chance for a rushing score here.

The Broncos certainly don't want to go "toe to toe" with the Seahawks and rely on rushing and defense (like the Seahawks would love to happen). But no doubt the Seahawks are looking to get to Manning and slow the pass because the best of all outcomes for the Broncos would be to jump out to a big lead early and take the Seahawks out of the style of play that saw them gain the #1 seed in the NFC.

Manning is a master of the quick read and perhaps the toughest quarterback to confuse in the NFL. He's also one of the best at making adjustments. This is the most high-powered offense this year and maybe of all time if points are your criteria. That should see the Broncos get off to a fast start and regardless, make the adjustments at the half to end up with the all-important win.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 1 6 1 2 2 14
Preventing Fantasy Points SEA 1 3 1 10 2 5


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