The Denver Broncos suffered one of the most lopsided losses in Super Bowl history, falling to the Seattle Seahawks 43-8. Less than eight months later, the two teams will meet again in Week 3 of the 2014 NFL season.
The Seahawks are still widely considered by many to be the top team in football, but the Broncos have looked like the better team in the early part of the year. Denver is one of seven unbeaten teams, and Seattle is coming off a nine-point loss in San Diego.
In their Super Bowl matchup, Seattle used the league’s No.1 defense to stifle Peyton Manning and Denver’s record-setting offense. After throwing 55 touchdowns in the regular season, the quarterback was limited to one score and two interceptions, including one that eventual Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith returned for a touchdown.
In Week 2, however, the Seahawks defense did not look like the unit that was the best in football. Philip Rivers found success for the Chargers, completing three touchdown passes and 284 yards on 28-of-37 passing. He ended the game with a 124.2 passer rating.
On Sunday, Manning hopes to have a similar performance against the team that kept him in check on the final game of last season. In Denver’s two wins, Manning has completed 69.4 percent of his passes for six scores and no interceptions.
The Broncos offense hasn’t had trouble getting into the end zone in the first two games, and the unit will get a boost in Week 3. Wide receiver Wes Welker has been reinstated after serving two games of what was initially a four-game suspension. His suspension was lifted because of a revised performance-enhancing-drug policy announced by the NFL and NFL Players Association.
Seattle hosts Denver at CenturyLink Field, where the champs have lost just once since 2012. With the best home-field advantage in the football, the oddsmakers in Las Vegas have made the Seahawks five-point favorites. Even though Seattle has a loss, the betting odds would still favor them on a neutral field.
The over/under of 48.5 is one of the highest in Week 3. Despite losing leading-receiver Golden Tate to free agency, the Seahawks appear to be sporting an improved offense from a year ago. Having already played in more regular-season games that he did in all of 2013, Percy Harvin has contributed 64 receiving yards and 86 rushing yards.
While the teams look largely the same from last season’s big game, there are a few notable differences on both sides of the ball. For Denver, Emmanuel Sanders replaced Erick Decker at wide receiver, and DeMarcus Ware strengthened the team’s pass rush. Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” is still lead by the likes of Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, but Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner are both gone.
Prediction: A blowout similar to that of the Super Bowl should not be expected, but the Seahawks have shown that they match up well with the Broncos. They should be able to, once again, make Manning uncomfortable in the pocket, especially in front of their home fans. Russell Wilson continues to be incredibly efficient, and he’ll help put Seattle back above .500.
Predicted Score: Seattle over Denver, 27-20