Stats & Info: Super Bowl XLVIII

Everything to know for Super Bowl XLVIII

January, 31, 2014
1/31/14
11:50
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Here's a look back at the Stats and Info Blog's coverage leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos. Follow the links for the full stories.

Top Stats To Know
Want to impress your friends at the Super Bowl party with fun historical nuggets and notes about the matchup? Then click here for all you need to know about Super Bowl XLVIII.

The QB Matchup
What’s the difference between Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning? Other than 226 games, 151 wins, 63,908 yards and 471 touchdown passes (including the playoffs)?

The Super Bowl pits two quarterbacks as statistically different as possible against each other. We look at how Wilson and Manning play the same position in very different ways.

Key Matchup: Marshawn Lynch vs Broncos Defense
Marshawn Lynch
Lynch
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has played in six career postseason games, and he’s rushed for at least 100 yards in four of them. The Broncos have allowed only one 100-yard rushing game by a player all season (Ryan Mathews, Week 15).

Both Lynch and the Broncos’ rush defense are peaking in the postseason, making this matchup one of the most important to watch in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Cold Weather a Problem for Manning?
The current kickoff forecast for Super Bowl XLVIII calls for temperature of 40 degrees and dropping throughout the game, which could pose a problem for Manning.

Manning has a career record of 8-11 playing outdoors with the temperature below 40 degrees, with 30 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. He’s 1-2 this season with losses to the New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers in night games and a win over the Tennessee Titans in an afternoon contest.

Matchup to Watch: Seahawks Secondary vs Manning
Peyton Manning
Manning
Manning threw for more touchdowns and yards than any quarterback in NFL history this season. The Seahawks were the first team to lead the league in points allowed, yards allowed and takeaways since the 1985 Chicago Bears.

How Manning and his receivers navigate the stingy Seahawks’ secondary is just one of the key matchups to watch between the Broncos' offense and Seahawks’ defense in the Super Bowl.

Broncos Offensive Line vs Seahawks Rush
Manning was pressured on a league-low 14 percent of his dropbacks this season. He had the best completion percentage under duress this season, but the pressure still affects his play, making his protection so important.

The Seahawks defense has pressured opposing quarterbacks on 32 percent of dropbacks this season, best in the NFL. How they are able to disrupt Manning will be another key matchup to watch Sunday.

Key: Broncos protection vs. Seahawks rush

January, 30, 2014
1/30/14
11:53
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Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos' wide receivers will have their hands full with the Seattle Seahawks' secondary in Super Bowl XLVIII, as detailed here .

As good as the Seahawks’ secondary has been, the pass rush is just as crucial for the NFL’s top defense. How they are able to disrupt Manning will be another key matchup to watch Sunday.

No pressure on Manning
In the NFL this season, quarterbacks were sacked or put under duress (Duress is defined as when the quarterback is forced to scramble, move or alter a throw due to defensive pressure) on 26 percent of their dropbacks. Manning was pressured on a league-low 14 percent of his dropbacks this season.

Manning has yet to be sacked this postseason and he’s been under duress on only five of his 79 dropbacks (6 percent).

Manning had the best completion percentage under duress this season, but the pressure still affects his play, making his protection so important.

A lot of the credit goes to the Broncos’ offensive line. The five-man unit of Chris Clark, Zane Beadles, Manny Ramirez, Louis Vasquez and Orlando Franklin have been on field together for 80 percent of the Broncos’ snaps this season (1,031 total), including every postseason snap.

Manning also gets credit for the lack of pressure. On average, Manning has held onto the ball for 2.34 seconds from snap to pass this season. Only Andy Dalton and Chad Henne (each at 2.29 seconds) had quicker times.

Getting pressure with four
The Seahawks defense has pressured opposing quarterbacks on 32 percent of dropbacks this season, best in the NFL.

The Seahawks have been able to get pressure even when relying heavily on a four-man pass rush. During the regular season the Seahawks sent four or fewer pass rushers 73 percent of the time, eighth highest in the NFL. This postseason, the Seahawks have done so on all but three dropbacks (96 percent).

One of the keys as to why the Seahawks’ pass rush has been so successful is a strong defensive line rotation. Seven defensive lineman have played at least 500 snaps for the Seahawks this season, and none have played more than 58 percent of the team’s snaps.

Who has the upper hand?
The Seahawks have generated pressure on at least 21 percent of dropbacks in every game this season, something that Manning has had happen only four times (2-2 in those games).

The key to getting or preventing pressure in the game could be time.

Although Manning has a quick release, Seahawks’ opponents have held the ball for 2.77 seconds from snap to pass this season, fourth longest in the NFL.

However, if the Broncos are able to sustain long drives, then Manning’s no-huddle style of offense could fatigue the Seahawks’ pass rushers.

The Broncos have averaged 8.8 plays per drive this postseason, up from 5.7 in the regular season, and have recorded a first down on all but one of their 16 postseason drives (Julius Thomas fumbled after gaining first-down yardage on the drive).

Key matchup: Manning vs. the secondary

January, 30, 2014
1/30/14
11:48
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Peyton Manning threw for more touchdowns and yards than any quarterback in NFL history this season. The Seattle Seahawks were the first team to lead the league in points allowed, yards allowed and takeaways since the 1985 Chicago Bears.

How Manning and his receivers navigate the stingy Seahawks’ secondary is just one of the key matchups to watch between the Denver Broncos' offense and Seahawks’ defense in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Richard Sherman owns the right side
Sherman has lined up on the offense’s right side on 98 percent of his snaps this season and confirmed at media day he will face whoever lines up on his side.

None of the Broncos’ top three wide receivers (Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker) lined up on the right for more than 52 percent of their snaps, and Manning might be wise to limit his attempts to them when they do line up on that side of the field.



As seen in the chart, the Seahawks allowed only 53.6 percent of passes thrown to the right side of the field to be completed this season, second best in the NFL. Their completion percentage allowed over the middle ranks 25th while the left ranks 12th.

Manning has completed 64 percent of his passes to the right side of the field this season, compared to 72 percent to the left or middle.

Beat the press
The Seahawks showed press coverage on 41 percent of the pass routes run by players split out wide this season, third highest in the NFL. Press coverage is defined as a defensive back lining up within about 1.5 yards of the line of scrimmage directly across a receiver.

When opponents targeted a receiver that started the play facing press coverage, the Seahawks allowed a 47 percent completion percentage and a minus-10 TD-Int differential. When not facing press coverage, receivers caught 65 percent of their targets with a plus-1 TD-Int differential.

Manning has targeted his top three wide receivers almost equally this season when facing press coverage (204 attempts) and not facing press coverage (225 attempts), but Welker is the only one who isn’t greatly affected by a defender in his face pre-snap.

Manning could look to Julius Thomas more if the press proves a problem. Manning completed 74 percent of his passes to the tight end this season.

However, the Seahawks have also been able to limit top tight ends. Tony Gonzalez, Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis combined for six games against the Seahawks this season. They finished with 14 receptions on 30 targets and 136 yards in those games.

Yards after catch
What the Broncos do after the catch could be as important as making the catch. The Broncos finished the regular season with the most yards after catch and boast the individual league leader from each of the past three seasons (Demaryius Thomas in 2013, Wes Welker in 2011 and 2012).

The Broncos averaged fewer than 5.0 yards after the catch in all three of their losses this season (eight times total). The Seahawks allowed the fewest yards after the catch this season, limiting opponents to 4.1 on average.

Matchup to watch: Lynch vs. Broncos' D

January, 28, 2014
1/28/14
9:28
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Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has played in six career postseason games, and he’s rushed for at least 100 yards in four of them. The Denver Broncos have allowed only one 100-yard rushing game by a player all season (Ryan Mathews, Week 15).

Both Lynch and the Broncos’ rush defense are peaking in the postseason, making the matchup one of the most important to watch in Super Bowl XLVIII.

What Lynch does well
Lynch has averaged 93.3 rush yards per game in the postseason throughout his career, same as Emmitt Smith. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, of all the players who have played five postseason games, only three have averaged more rush yards than Lynch.

As evidenced by his beastly 67-yard touchdown run in 2010 against the Saints, Lynch’s greatest strength is his strength.

Lynch gained 66 of his 307 career postseason rush yards after contact on that play alone. His average of 2.8 yards per rush after contact is the best of any player with at least 25 postseason rushes since 2010.

The Seahawks like to run Lynch inside, as 80 percent of his rushes as a Seahawk have been between the tackles. Lynch is averaging 5.7 yards on those runs this postseason after averaging 4.1 yards in the regular season.

What the Broncos do well
The Broncos have made it a habit this postseason to shut down the run game. The San Diego Chargers were held to 65 rush yards a week after gaining 196 against the Cincinnati Bengals. The New England Patriots were held to 64 yards a week after gaining 234 against the Indianapolis Colts.

The Broncos' biggest strengths in stopping the run happen to be Lynch’s strengths as well.

Including the playoffs, the Broncos have allowed 1.4 yards per rush after first contact, fifth best in the NFL this season. The Broncos have allowed 30 yards after contact to only three running backs this season (Ryan Mathews twice, Chris Johnson, Maurice Jones-Drew), a mark Lynch has hit 11 times this season.

The Broncos are also at their toughest between the tackles, in large part due to defensive tackle Terrance Knighton .

The Broncos have allowed 3.7 yards per rush between the tackles this season (including the playoffs), tied for second best in the NFL. With Knighton on the field, that number dips to 2.9 yards. With Knighton off the field, it jumps to 4.7.

Who has the upper hand?
The Broncos finished the regular season in the top 10 of yards per rush allowed (10th), as did all three of the Seahawks’ divisional foes.

Lynch failed to gain 100 rush yards in any of his six regular-season games against division opponents, averaging 3.8 yards per rush, with 1.8 coming after first contact. Against the rest of the NFL, Lynch averaged 4.4 yards overall and 2.0 after contact.

But as the San Francisco 49ers can attest, stopping Lynch in the playoffs is easier said than done. Lynch rushed for 109 yards in the NFC Championship Game, with 41 coming after first contact (1.9 per rush). Lynch gained 43 yards after contact at 0.9 per rush in the regular season versus the 49ers.

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