There will be plenty of variables that will determine the outcome of Super Bowl XLVIII. It will not simply come down to Seattle's stingy defense against Denver's powerful offense, led by quarterback Peyton Manning. But it is the central theme, and it is the question of the moment in the NFL: Which wins -- an offense that piles up points or a defense that dominates?
It's a fair question, and it's probably not as clear cut as it appears. Today's NFL is built for the offenses score points, and they've done just that. Denver led the way this season, a year of points explosions, with an average of 37.9 points per game in the regular season. Seattle's defense yielded just 14.4 points per game in the regular season.
The unstoppable force (Denver's offense) against the immovable object (Seattle's defense). It sure seems that way.
But here is something to consider: Denver has allowed a total of 33 points in two playoff wins over San Diego (17 points) and New England (16 points). The Broncos, despite losing talented players due to injuries throughout the season, have pieced it together well enough to play at a high level.
Denver withstood the loss of All-Pro pass rusher Von Miller and turned its defense into an asset. For that reason, along with the fact that Manning is the best in the game, the Broncos are my pick to beat Seattle. Score: 27-21.
NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT
- Claude Humphrey played for three seasons (1979-81) in Philadelphia after a brilliant 10 seasons in Atlanta and helped solidify Dick Vermeil's defense for its Super Bowl XV run. Humphrey asked to be traded early in his 10th season in Atlanta and specifically wanted to be traded to Philadelphia. So at the price of two fourth-round draft picks, Humphrey joined head coach Dick Vermeil and defensive coordinator Marion Campbell. And he fell in love with the City of Philadelphia and the fans.
"It was the whole mix here in Philly -- the fans, my teammates, the coaching staff, and the Vermeil philosophy," Humphrey told Bob Gordon in Gordon's Game Of My Life Philadelphia Eagles: Memorable Stories of Eagles Football. "Football in Philadelphia is intense. The fans really care. It wasn't like that in Atlanta. The way Philadelphia looked at its football team was the way I always felt football should be. I guess you could call it camaraderie between the team and the fans. And then there was the camaraderie within the team itself. Getting a chance to play in Philadelphia and getting a chance to meet the Philly fans was something I'll never forget."
- Who is the next "career" Eagle to reach the Hall of Fame? It has to be Brian Dawkins, right? I understand that it's tough for safeties to make it to Canton, Ohio, but Dawkins helped change the position and he was as accomplished as any safety in the history of the game. Dawkins and then ... who? Jason Peters? LeSean McCoy? Peters is right there, and if McCoy plays at his current level for another five seasons, he'll be a lock for the Hall.
- It makes sense that Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy won the *Associated Press *Rookie of the Year Award. He ran for more than 1,100 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. He had a great season. San Diego wide receiver Keenan Allen was a standout, as well. But I wonder how many of the voters even *considered *Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson? All Johnson did was immediately step into the starting lineup and stay on the field for every snap of the season and play terrific football. Wonder why the Eagles led the league in rushing and ranked second in scoring? The offense line was outstanding, and having Johnson make such an impact helped tremendously.
- Speaking of the NFL awards ... I'm trying to figure out how Philip Rivers won the Comeback Player of the Year Award. In 2012 he threw 26 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions. He was better in 2013 with 32 touchdowns and 11 picks, and the Chargers turned into a playoff team. I get that. But did he really do more than, say, Eagles left tackle Jason Peters, who missed all of 2012 with an injury and then came back and earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro recognition in 2013?
- I know I'm thinking this, and I wonder if you feel the same: When the Super Bowl ends, every team is 0-0 and we start the climb back up the ladder of the 2014 season. Can't wait to get it going!
- The weather is going to work out for the Super Bowl and the cold-weather, outdoor-stadium drumbeat will pick up and, yes, Philadelphia and Lincoln Financial Field can certainly make a strong, strong case to be a great Super Bowl city. I've been to a bunch of them -- although I'm not going to MetLife Stadium -- and without a doubt Lincoln Financial Field's accessibility and sightlines and overall amenities would be a great Super Bowl spot. And Philadelphia as the host city? Awesome. So many fantastic things to do. Just my two cents ...