Are you ready for some football?
No? Well you've got an extra week to get ready. Still don't think you'll be ready? Well sorry, you're boned, 'cause the Super Bowl-that fat, fantastic tick of a spectacle-is set to dig its massive, ad-bloated mandibles into nearly every inch of the American media's goose-pimpled flesh, and I for one couldn't be happier. This game has more stories than Bud's gonna have beer ads. Peyton Manning, with throwing mechanics as smooth as Velveeta processed cheese product fresh out of the microwave, and his Denver Broncos are taking on the Seattle Seahawks and their vaunted defense, led by Richard Sherman, the best in crunchtime this side of DORITOS JACKED Enchilada Supreme Flavored Tortilla Chips. My question for you, America: Are you ready to dip into the action?
On one side we've got Peyton Manning, the worst greatest player of all time, the hate-able winner. Manning is coming off the greatest statistical season any quarterback has ever had and he's won three out of four AFC Championship Games he's played in. But, like the 2014 Chevy Impala, which is ranked number one in initial quality for large cars, he still faces the stigma of inferior American-build quality; Manning is still considered the best regular-season quarterback but a playoff choke artist. Manning is a seven-time All-Pro, a four-time League MVP, has a ring to go with his 2007 Super Bowl MVP award, and a much lauded appearance on
Saturday Night Live
. The guy's got almost as much hardware as your neighborhood Home Depot store but still has a monkey on his back. He just needs to do a bit more doing, and one more win this postseason should vault him over Tom Brady in any all-time greatest conversation-that's the power of Super Bowl victories.
Then there's Seattle, a town that hasn't even won enough to be famous for losing. The Mariners have played 37 seasons and still haven't made a World Series. The Seahawks are making only their second championship appearance in 38 seasons of existence, and they're currently zero and one. Seattle's only championship came when the SuperSonics, a team now better known as the Oklahoma City Thunder, won their lone NBA title in 1979: so long ago, the players' shorts were actually short. Seattle is the chubby, fuzzy, gleamingly pale nerd on the beach, but winning the Super Bowl is the AXE body spray of the sporting world. Just one squirt of stinky victory and America will be passing out at the feet of the Emerald City.
There will be more stories, though. I imagine as we get closer to game time we'll learn that one player recently lost his dad, and yet he's playing through the pain. Another's wife will have just beaten breast cancer and he's dedicating the season to her fight. Someone's brother will be in Afghanistan, the real hero, and another player's real passion will be charity. One guy will have overcome staggering crime and another will just be a good farm boy aww-shucksin' through the bright lights and unlikely stardom. Those are just guesses, but I'd play the over.
Of course, on the field this looks to be a hell of a game. For only the second time in 20 years the two number one seeds will be facing off, but these two teams got here traveling very different paths. The Broncos rode an offense hotter than a GoDaddy.com commercial, with Manning as the Danica Patrick of the gridiron. Manning's 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards passing were both single-season records and a huge part of Denver's top-rated offense for 2013. On the flip side, NFL pundits have been decrying the death of defense for years, but the Seahawks' top-ranked unit was tougher to penetrate than Norton 360's unparalleled virus protection. Seattle's suffocating unit allowed the fewest yards, the fewest yards passing, and the fewest points in the league, setting up a battle of strengths reminiscent of the Chevy Silverado 2500HD's best-in-class 17,800-pound towing capacity versus Ford F-150 SuperCrew's thrifty 23 mpg highway. It's only the second time since the merger that the number one total defense has faced the number one total offense in the Super Bowl, and everyone will be wondering who Calvin will end up peeing on in the end.
On paper, Denver's defense is pretty good. They're actually tied with Seattle for number seven against the run and they lead the league in sacks, but that's a bit misleading. Teams didn't run against Denver because they were always behind, and racking up sacks gets a lot easier when you know the other guy's gotta throw. That happens when your offense puts up close to 40 points a game for the season, but Denver's offense hasn't faced a D like Seattle's. Knowshon Moreno and the Bronco's running game will be stonewalled while Marshawn Lynch of the Seahawks will run roughshod over the Broncos with Seattle dominating the time-of-possession battle. Sherman will make things tough for Manning and completely shut down Demaryius Thomas, taking away half the field, but it won't be enough. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is going to win a Super Bowl, but it won't be this year. Denver has too many weapons, and Seattle won't have enough in the tank for a late rally. Peyton Manning will be going back to Disney World: Broncos 20, Seahawks 16. Of course I imagine Samsung will sell a lot of TVs; InBev should move a few million gallons of beer; those late-night drunken trips home will have fans thinking outside the bun, so Taco Bell looks strong too; and the NFL will be capping off another 9 billion dollar year, so it's hard to pick just one. So many winners in a Super Bowl.
Want more Jim Meyer? listen to him and Mr. Wrong, Joe Macleod, on Jim and Joe's Top Rated Podcast, available on iTunes.