Broncos or Seahawks?

An NRO Symposium
National Review Online’s ‘experts’ weigh in on Super Bowl XLVIII.

Who will win Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVIII matchup between the Denver Broncos, with the NFL’s most prolific offense, and the Seattle Seahawks, who boast the league’s stingiest defense? National Review Online asked for some predictions.

 

Jonathan Adler
Richard Sherman will put his money where his mouth his, intercept Peyton Manning, and help the Seattle defense rein in the Broncos just enough to hold on to a four-point victory. Peyton Manning will have a good day, but not good enough to get a second Super Bowl ring.

Contributing editor Jonathan Adler is the Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law and director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation at Case Western Reserve University.

 

William J. Bennett

Seahawks put Peyton Manning under too much pressure. Win 30–21.

— William J. Bennett, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Education from 1985 to 1988, is host of Morning in America, a nationally syndicated radio show.

 

Patrick Brennan
Easiest prediction: The economic impact of the Super Bowl comes up way short of the claims tourism officials always make to get taxpayers to shell out millions to pay for junkets, parties, etc. I’ll take the under on $600 million, the ludicrous number cited by my congressman, Carolyn Maloney. Mayor de Blasio probably will not make a surprise appearance with a Bane mask on his face, but you can never be too sure.

And, sadly for this hater of all that is Manning, Broncos by 3. I have about as much confidence in Russell Wilson and the Seahawks on the road as I do in the gentlemanliness of your average New York Jets fan.

Patrick Brennan is a Patriots fan and an associate editor at National Review.

 

EDWARD JOHN CRAIG
The last time Peyton Manning was in a Super Bowl, I mistakenly predicted he would win it because of the offensive talent that surrounded him in Indianapolis. Well, if the Colts of four seasons ago had too many horses, today’s Broncos have bigger and better ones. If you give the best quarterback ever a receiving corps of WRs Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, and Eric Decker, along with fast and physical TE Julius Thomas, then don’t be surprised when he smashes Tom Brady’s single-season touchdown-pass record (to the chagrin of all Patriots fans, who, aside from their hatred of Peyton Manning and their bitterness at not going 18–0 in 2007, are otherwise exemplars of fair-minded sportsmanship).

And yet the Broncos offense may not be the best unit on the field on Sunday. The Seahawks defense is truly an imposing squad. Richard Sherman is the NFL’s premier cornerback, even if he does say so himself. The Seahawks’ front seven are talented, physical, and relentless. (Has anyone in history been happier about leaving Detroit than Cliff Avril? He has competition, no doubt, but my money’s still on him.) They play tough straight-up defense, pressure the quarterback, and pick off passes. No defense allowed fewer points or fewer passing yards this season.

Irresistible force, meet immovable object.

Still, the Broncos will win, if 1) they don’t fall behind by more than one score early on; 2) they manage to stay even on turnovers; 3) wind gusts at MetLife Stadium do not exceed 15 mph — allowing Manning’s ducks to fly true; and 4) Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno picks up at least 85 combined yards (he had over 1,500 combined yards and scored 13 TDs this year — not bad for a guy who was supposed to have been relegated to change-of-pace-back status the past two offseasons).

I’ll take Denver, 27–20. And now for the bonus predictions . . . !

If Peyton Manning is sacked more than twice, he’ll throw a happy-feet interception. Quack.

If Wes Welker tries to repeat the pick play that ended Aqib Talib’s AFC Championship game, he’ll be flagged for it. Legal schmegal.

Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch’s vicious “Beast Mode” running style will get someone hurt — possibly himself.

Edward John Craig is managing editor of National Review Online and a Giants fan.

 

Jason Epstein
The Broncos win a relatively low-scoring affair, 24–16. Mariano Rivera is named MVP.

Jason Epstein is president of Southfive Strategies LLC and a contributor to National Review Online’s Right Field.

 

Daniel Foster
Every true American wants Peyton to win another one, to shut up the last three guys in Christendom who doubt that he belongs on Mount Rushmore. But the world is a fallen place, and I think the Seahawks defense is going to be too much for him. The problem is a front seven who can make him instantly uncomfortable and a set of linebackers and safeties who can cover any tight end or running back in the league — and most wide receivers — out of a base 4–3. This will make Peyton’s zone-killing check-down passing game a non-starter. I expect him to get little going in the first half, make some adjustments, and come up just short in a relatively low-scoring affair: 20–17, ’Hawks. The game will probably turn on a single turnover, either way. Let’s just hope it’s not Sherman with the pick. I heard him the first time.

Daniel Foster is a political consultant and former news editor of National Review Online.

 

Jim Geraghty
I’ll be rooting for Seattle, mostly because I like the city and I hope to see Pete Carroll rewarded by the football gods for one of the all-time most unjustifiable firings after his one-year stint as head coach of the New York Jets in 1994.

I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see the Denver Broncos win their third world championship and Peyton Manning win his second Super Bowl MVP. If he does win, I just hope that his success leads some company to sign him up for their television commercials, because he seems like he might be good at that. Perhaps the Omaha, Neb., Tourism Board.

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman will shock the world during his immediate post-game interview, quoting Shakespeare: “Lay on, Macduff,
 And damn’d be him that first cries, ‘Hold, enough!’”

— Jim Geraghty writes the Campaign Spot on NRO.

Kevin Glass
Weather. Percy Harvin. Trash talk. Omaha. These are the storylines by which people are making their Super Bowl predictions.

They’re also missing the forest for the trees.

If Peyton Manning has a measurable difference in performance relating to the weather, it’s not enough to swing this game. If Percy Harvin — the high-priced free agent Seattle acquired who has suffered through an injury-riddled season — is healthy enough to play, he won’t be the difference in this game. If Peyton’s pre-snap cadence is enough to draw a Seattle penalty or two, it won’t be enough to swing this game.

Sure, these teams are evenly matched. So evenly matched that it might seem like these aforementioned minutiae could swing the game. They won’t. Denver is far and away the best offensive team we’ve seen in a long time. Seattle is far and away the best defensive team we’ve seen in a long time. The last time the NFL’s top offense faced the top defense, the defense came away victorious when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers intercepted the Oakland Raiders’ Rich Gannon five times in the 2003 Super Bowl. 

By Football Outsiders’ all-encompassing DVOA metric, the Seahawks’ weakness might be slightly stronger than the Broncos’ weakness. Seattle, for all their defensive acclaim, managed to field a top-10 offense by weighted DVOA. The Broncos are no defensive slouches but are about a middle-of-the-pack defense when all is accounted for.

I’d like to see Peyton Manning tuck away another Super Bowl trophy and silence all his big-game doubters. But if my actual money were on the line (It’s not — I’m not rich enough to gamble), I’d have to put it on the Seahawks’ offense — with Beast Mode Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson, and an underrated receiving corps led by Doug Baldwin — to manage just enough points to beat the Broncos.

Seahawks 28, Broncos 24.

— Kevin Glass is the managing editor of Townhall.com.

 

Pete Hegseth
It’s flat-out wrong that Eli has two titles and Peyton only one. The football gods will rectify that injustice on Sunday. It will be Peyton Manning’s night; just too much firepower: Broncos by 10.

Pete Hegseth is the CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, a contributor to The Blaze, and an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay.

 

Mollie ziegler Hemingway
My determined boys in orange should be able to hold off the scrappy boys in blue. I’m such a Broncos fan, I’m actually going to Omaha to watch the game (okay, my brother lives there). The Seahawks may have the best secondary in the NFL, but with Peyton Manning and three receivers who combined for well over 3,000 yards, good luck containing Denver’s offense. Conversely, I wouldn’t be confident that the Seahawks offense can put enough points on the board to hang with the Broncos when it inevitably turns into a shootout.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers will probably gyrate less than Queen Bey did last year, just due to geriatric reasons.

The advertisements will include sexy women and stupid men in equal measure.

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist.

 

David B. Kopel
I predict that the Broncos will win because of their outstanding offensive line. Richard Sherman will make a conspicuous display of good sportsmanship, shaking hands post-game with Demaryius Thomas, who will have beaten Sherman on a fourth-quarter catch to seal Denver’s victory.

David B. Kopel is research director of the Independence Institute in Denver, an associate policy analyst at the Cato Institute in Washington, and an adjunct professor of constitutional law at Denver University’s Sturm College of Law.

 

Clifford d. May
If the Las Vegas oddsmakers can’t predict who will win, I’d be foolish to try. But I can tell you for whom I’m rooting: the Broncos. I was born and bred in New York City, but when I was a kid, my parents — who had met on the ski slopes of New England just after WWII — started taking me out to Colorado for skiing vacations. (This was long before Aspen was a billionaire’s playground.) Later, some of the best years of my life were spent as a newspaperman in Denver. That’s where I got married, we had a couple of kids and, in 1995, the Rocky Mountain News’s ski team — I was the captain — won first place at the 30th Annual Winter Park Press Cup. The trophy is right here in my office in Washington, if any of you would like to see it. The Rocky is now gone. And Winter Park — a delightful ski area, better known to locals than to destination skiers — canceled the event in 2003. But, a Winter Park spokesman told me today, they plan to revive it this year. It cheers me to hear that.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on national security.

 

John J. Miller
The Denver Broncos will defeat the Seattle Seahawks when Peyton Manning embarrasses Richard Sherman on a fourth-quarter game-winning drive.

John J. Miller is the author of The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football.

 

Geoffrey Norman
I’m going with age and guile on this one. The hardest part for Manning and the Broncos was getting this far. Unless there is another blackout, whatever happens in this game, Peyton will have seen it before.

— Geoffrey Norman, a writer in Vermont, is a longtime contributor to National Review Online.

 

Greg Pollowitz
Who do I want to win, or who do I think will win?

First off, I want Seattle to win. And win big. To crush the Broncos, see them driven before recovering Raiders fans around the world, and hear the lamentations of the Colorado women. That’s what’s best in life.

But, alas, I think the Broncos will win. Seattle’s defense can hold against Peyton Manning’s “Omaha” offense, but not for the entire game, and I don’t see Seattle’s offense putting enough points on the board to keep them in it. 

Final score: 34–17, Denver. 

Other predictions: 

Manning wins the MVP. 

Richard Sherman will have an interception, but Seattle won’t capitalize on it. 

Former Patriot/current Bronco Wes Welker will score two touchdowns and further anger Bill Belichick over the offseason. 

The cold weather will look nice on TV, but fans will have a miserable time sitting in the stands hour after hour while the fans at home enjoy the commercials.

And finally, there won’t be a better commercial than this one from Budweiser in which a Clydesdale adopts a puppy.

— Greg Pollowitz is a blogger for National Review Online.

 

Fred Schwarz
Because I follow the NFL about as closely as I follow Slovenian politics, my pick will be based on which city I dislike the most.

Denver is okay with me. Allen Ginsberg invoked it memorably in Howl, my wife had her first job there, I usually like South Park, and I have a nephew who goes to the University of Colorado nearby. But Seattle, and in fact the entire state of Washington, has a lot to answer for: the 1995 ALDS, the 2000 Senate election, Microsoft Word. . . . And while neither team has a player who went to my college (which is probably why they’re in the Super Bowl), the Seahawks do have one from a conference rival.

So that settles it. Since my predictions are always wrong (in sports and elsewhere), I’ll pick the Seahawks to win, 31–17.

Fred Schwarz is a deputy managing editor of National Review.

 

Wesley J. Smith
I predict that the game will be watched by far more people than the State of the Union speech, and, moreover, that Seattle fans will like Denver, and Denver fans like Seattle, far more than anyone likes the leaders who gathered together at the Capitol on Tuesday night.

— Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism and contributes to the Human Exceptionalism blog on National Review Online.

 

Bing West
In a dead-even game with crowd and weather not a factor, both teams will emphasize short crossing routes. Edge to Manning. 24–21.

Bing West is a former assistant secretary of defense and combat Marine who has written five books about combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is working on his sixth book, about an embattled Marine platoon in Afghanistan and the role of courage.

 

Kevin d. Williamson
Super Bowl prediction: I predict that by the end of the game, Twitter traffic on the subject will have been sufficient that I learn who is playing. 

Kevin D. Williamson is a roving correspondent for National Review.

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