Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Manning vs. Wilson = Siberian tiger vs. blind poodle

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Allow me to be the first to congratulate the Seattle Seahawks on their victory in the NFC championship game, and on their impending loss in the Super Bowl to the Denver Broncos.

Outside of automatically rooting against this team -- simply because Richard Sherman is a buffoon of colossal proportions -- this is also a quarterback mismatch of similar proportions.

Peyton Manning versus Russell Wilson is like a monster truck competing with a Fiat for a parking spot.

No, that's still too close.

It's like a full grown Siberian tiger in an underground pit fight against a blind toy poodle with three legs.

Nope, that still doesn't do it justice.

It's like Richard Sherman versus impulse control and modesty.

Bingo.

It's just not fair, and it's not going to happen.

Watching Manning run his offence this season has been the modern day equivalent of seeing Michael Schumacher race a Ferrari. It is a seamless blend of man and machine, working together in perfect harmony. We can't even figure out what it means when he audibles, "Omaha," 42 times a game, and now he has two weeks to prepare against his final opponent? I pity the fool.

In the NFC championship game, Wilson wasn't horrible -- he passed for half of what Peyton did -- but he was having a hard enough time simply handing the ball off to Marshawn Lynch. In two weeks, he simply won't be able to get away with having fundamental problems like that.

This is the Super Bowl, but it's not a super matchup.

Seattle may have a superior defence, special teams, running back, and offensive line, but they have Wilson and Denver has Peyton, and that is as big an edge as there is.

For Seattle to win this game, they need Wilson to play better than he ever has, and they need Peyton to play worse than he ever has. The odds of these two things happening at the same time in the year's biggest game are practically incalcuable.

There is no doubt Wilson is a better athlete if flushed from the pocket, but when it comes to any of the mechanics that happen in the pocket, it's not even close.

Selling play action from under centre? Advantage Peyton. Making audibles from the line of scrimmage? Advantage Peyton.

Controlling the tempo of the football game and understanding the weakness of every defence he is facing. Peyton.

Knowing where to place the football on every conceivable throw? Peyton.

Recognizing where to run the football? This isn't even fun anymore.

In ideal conditions, the best chance we viewers had of this being a competitive matchup would have been if the 49ers had beaten the Seahawks. At least then, we could have seen the contrast of Manning against a pivot that regularly rushes for more yards than he throws.

Wilson was the fourth best quarterback that played this past weekend, and now he has bitten off more than he can chew.

Seattle has two chances in this game. The first is the weather. If this game was being played in a dome, I would take out a second mortgage on my house and put it on the Broncos to cover the spread. But it's not. If the weather is poor enough it limits the things Peyton can do offensively, and literally becomes the 12th man for the Seattle defence, then Seattle has a shot.

Additionally, if the "Legion of Boom," or the Seahawk defensive backfield, is allowed to continue to break every illegal contact rule in the NFL against the Broncos receivers, and turn the game into a wrestling cage match on the line of scrimmage, they could also squeak out the "W."

Yet when we look at the matchup of the most important position on the football field -- the quarterback -- these two pivots aren't even playing on the same planet.

 

Doug Brown, once a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays in the Free Press.

Twitter: @DougBrown97

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 21, 2014 C3

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