By Nick Shepkowski-
(CBS) With Super Bowl XLVIII now less than a week away, the McNeil and Spiegel Show will look at different stats throughout the week at that could be the difference in Sunday’s contest. Today we look at the Seattle running game and if it’ll be able to garner enough yards to take down the Broncos.
Can Marshawn Lynch get going like he did in the second half of the NFC Championship game, or will Seattle’s run game be slowed like it was in the first half of that game? That answer will likely play a huge factor into determining the game.
Lynch has only played in six career playoff games but is already one of the most successful postseason running backs the league has seen. He averages just more than 93 rushing yards per playoff contest, 5.14 yards per playoff carry, a touchdown a game and his four rushing touchdowns of 25 yards or more are the most by one player in NFL playoff history.
Denver’s defense has done a very good job slowing down the run early on in games the last month and a half, allowing its offense to get a lead and then making opponents one-dimensional. After allowing 100-plus rushing yards in six straight contests earlier this year, Denver has slowed opponents down, allowing more than 100 yards rushing just once over its last six games. The Chargers and Patriots combined for just 129 yards on 34 carries this postseason in the Broncos’ march to the Super Bowl, gaining just 3.7 yards per attempt. The Broncos’ 64.5 rush yards allowed per playoff contest is by far the best of any playoff team this year, 23.5 better than the second-best Kansas City Chiefs.
It was a tale of two halves for Lynch against San Francisco, carrying the ball 12 times for just 33 yards in the first half. Be on the lookout for little-known Alvin Bailey of Seattle, though. The undrafted rookie tackle out of Arkansas didn’t play a down in the divisional round against New Orleans but took on the role of Evan Britton (for Bears fans) in the second half of the conference championship, playing a dozen snaps as the sixth offensive lineman and providing a key block on Lynch’s 40-yard touchdown run.
The Seahawks are likely going to rely heavily on Marshawn Lynch and his backfield mates Robert Turbin, Michael Robinson and Derrick Coleman to help run the clock and keep Peyton Manning off the field. How telling will Denver’s ability or inability to stop the run ultimately be?
In their 13 wins this regular season the Broncos allowed an average of 93.2 rush yards per game. They’ve been even better in the playoffs, giving up just 64.5 ground yards. In their three losses, however, they gave up an average of 138 rushing yards.
If the Seahawks get anywhere near there, it’ll likely mean a celebration in Seattle.