No Super Bowl pairing has ever generated such a waterfall of interesting stats. Denver enters the contest with 59 touchdown passes completed, Seattle with 18 touchdown passes allowed. Denver has totaled 76 offensive touchdowns scored, Seattle 24 offensive touchdowns surrendered. Denver averages 36 points per game scored, Seattle averages 15 points per game allowed. Seattle gave up 172 passing yards per game and 5.8 yards per pass attempt, both league lows. Denver gained 340 passing yards per game, the league high, and was third with 8.3 yards per attempt. Something's got to give.
It may be that Denver's offensive numbers and Seattle's defensive stats both were amplified by schedules. The Super Bowl will be the first time this season Denver has faced a team that finished in the top six for defense, in contrast to 12 outings by the Broncos against teams that finished in the bottom third. Even adjusting for Denver's output knocking down opponents' defensive stats, the Broncos simply have not yet seen an elite defense. Over on the green side of the ball, the Seahawks compiled their great defensive numbers against a schedule rich in underperforming offenses. Seattle faced New Orleans twice, both times at home; the Saints were the sole top-rated offense Seattle had to contain. The Seahawks simply have not seen an elite offense on the road, and the Super Bowl is a road game.
Disparity in pass-or-run is as sharp between Denver and Seattle as it's ever been in a Super Bowl. Adjusting for sacks, during the regular season Denver called 695 passes, while Seattle called 464 -- that's 14 more called passes per game for the Broncs. (Bear in mind that called passes are not necessarily a formula for victory -- Cleveland led the league in called passes.) Seattle rushes 52 percent of the time; for the 2013 season just two teams, the Seahawks and the 49ers, ran more than they threw. (Bear in mind that grinding the clock is not necessarily a formula for victory either -- Buffalo outrushed Seattle.)
Because of its fast pace, Denver ran 1,156 plays, versus 973 plays for Seattle's take-your-time-boys tactics. That's 11 more plays per game, quite an edge in the little-noticed snaps stat. When the Seahawks did drop back to pass, bad things happened -- 44 sacks allowed, versus Denver's 20 sacks allowed on more dropbacks. Twenty-four NFL players ended the season with at least 1,000 receiving yards, and not one was a member of the Seattle Seahawks. So far in the postseason, Seattle has just 296 passing yards, versus 630 yards rung up by Denver.
Seattle was plus-20 on turnovers, versus Denver being even: a stat as dramatic in Seattle's favor as Denver passing numbers are dramatic in the Broncos' favor. A close game seems nearly assured: Russell Wilson has never lost an NFL contest by more than a touchdown, while at the Broncos, Peyton Manning has lost by more than a touchdown only once. Between them with their current teams they have posted 55 victories, 15 closes losses and one two-score losing margin.