By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts Number Cruncher
The two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl produce a dizzying number of, well, numbers.
Some of them are small (number of Seahawks titles: 0), some of them are enormous (117 million, the estimated number of Americans that will watch SB48).
But a crunching of the numbers for this specific Seattle-Denver matchup produces one number that looms largest.
As in, two turnovers that the Seattle Seahawks must force if they want to win this game .
Whenever teams are spectacular in terms of giving up or scoring points, schedule is usually a factor -- and it was for both teams this year.
Denver played only three games against anyone remotely close to Seattle’s defensive status (No. 1 Defensive Hogs, No. 1 Defensive Real Quarterback Rating): Kansas City (twice), and Baltimore. Manning was certainly incredible, but he didn’t play a legit defense once all year.
And Seattle really played only four games against opponents who were anywhere near Denver’s offensive status (No. 1 Offensive Hogs, No. 1 Real Quarterback Rating. Only Atlanta, New Orleans (twice) and Indianapolis qualify.
There are a million factors that go into the winning or losing in any football game, but for this particular game it does seem to boil down to it: Can Denver avoid turnovers? If they can, it’s unlikely that there’s anything that the Seattle offense will be able to do to win the game.
With Manning, the difference between the Broncos’ ball security in wins and in losses is pretty stark:
- Denver, in the Broncos’ 28 wins: 30 total offensive turnovers
- Denver, in the Broncos’ 7 losses: 19 total offensive turnovers
Over the two seasons (including playoffs), the Broncos have only lost twice under Manning when they’ve committed fewer than two turnovers.
But the Seahawks are great at forcing turnovers, right? Absolutely. They forced 39 of them, most in the NFL this year. Only problem is, when you go back to those four games against comparable offenses with good passing games and good offensive lines, turnovers were absent.
Drew Brees (twice), Matt Ryan and Andrew Luck combined for zero interceptions in those four games, and the teams only turned it over twice total.
That’s a scary stat for Seattle fans -- although it is worth noting that they held those teams to an average of 16.8 PPG, about 7.8 points a game less than their collective average.
That’s great -- but if they hold Denver to 7.8 below their average, that’s still 30 points -- a number Seattle has only topped once in nine games against Quality Opponents this year.
Can the Seahawks find a way to keep clean on offense the way they have been (five turnovers in the last nine games) and make Denver cough it up a couple of times?
They’d better, or that “zero” in “championships won” is going to be one number that doesn’t change a bit.