The last time these two teams met, it was arguably the ugliest Super Bowl result the NFL had ever seen. The Seattle Seahawks steamrolled Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos for a 43-8 lambasting for the first championship in franchise history nearly eight months ago.
Manning’s legacy was questioned once again after he tossed two interceptions and couldn’t lead a scoring drive against Seattle’s punishing defense until the third quarter, when the game had already been decided.
But now both squads enter Sunday afternoon’s matchup at CenturyLink Field on far different trajectories. Denver has started 2-0 with Manning under center for the second straight season, while the Seahawks were picked apart by San Diego in Week 2 and now risk losing significant ground in the NFC West race.
Much like last season, the Broncos offense continues to hum and win them games. Manning’s two second-quarter touchdown passes to tight end Jacob Tamme and receiver Demaryius Thomas created enough cushion for Denver to roll to a 24-17 victory over Kansas City last week. Manning went 21-for-26 for 242 yards and three touchdowns, and receiver Emmanuel Sanders notched eight receptions for 108 yards.
Denver’s revamped defense, including high-priced acquisitions like cornerback AqibTalib and DeMarcus Ware, has yet to really make an impact in a game, though it has come up with two interceptions and five total sacks in the first two victories.
Meanwhile in Week 2 Seattle suffered its worst defeat dating back to 2012, giving up 30 or more points for just the second time in its last 44 regular season games.
Receiver Percy Harvin started the game off with a 51-yard touchdown run, but the Seahawks failed to contain Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, who scored three touchdowns. San Diego also effectively ran the ball, totaling 101 rushing yards, and limiting Seattle’s time of possession to under 18 minutes.
Quarterback Russell Wilson did make the most of his limited time on the field, going 17-for-25 for 202 yards and two touchdowns. The third-year star is on pace for career-highs in yards and touchdowns, and has completed nearly 68 percent of his passes.
The Seahawks might also have their eye on Arizona and San Francisco’s matchup, taking place almost simultaneously in Glendale. A win for the Cardinals and a loss to Denver puts Seattle down by two games in the division.
Of course the Link crowd will play a significant role Sunday. Manning is 2-2 all-time against Seattle in the regular season, including a 28-13 loss at the Link in 2005 when he was an Indianapolis Colt. However the Colts had already clinched the best record in the AFC and a first-round bye, with Manning only throwing 12 passes in the game.
Start Time: 4:25 p.m. EST
TV Channel: CBS
Betting Odds: Seattle -5.5
Over/Under: 49 points
Prediction: Denver 24, Seattle 20