2014 Super Bowl Outcome Likely to change Future of NFL Teams

cliff-avril-seattleIn a day and age where NFL teams desperately reach for the next great quarterback while ignoring the rest of their roster, the Seattle Seahawks are an anomaly. Their GM, Joe Schneider, in collaboration with head coach Pete Carroll, took no shortcuts en route to transforming a middling team with no identity into the powerhouse that destroyed Denver 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII.

The league definitely took notice of this spectacle, as Seattle’s tall, lengthy corners, Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell, held the Broncos’ star-studded receiving corp in check. The league saw safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas make crushing hits whenever Peyton Manning did find his receivers for mostly harmless chunks of yards. They watched as Seattle’s pass rushers, Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril and Red Bryant, completely took one of history’s greatest quarterbacks out of his comfort zone. They witnessed the Seahawks’ offensive stars, Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, make huge plays whenever they were needed. And now, the league is going to act on what they saw in the 2014 Super Bowl.

You can count on a dozen or more teams working to build a roster that’s more akin to Seattle. And this means that defensive players will gain a little more value this offseason. Greg Hardy, T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are all set to make far more money this summer thanks to the Seattle Seahawks.

richard-sherman-seattleTeams have already been gravitating towards quarterbacks who can throw on the run. However, guys like Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater gain even more value in the draft after Wilson helped lead Seattle to a championship. Furthermore, the prototypical height requirement of 6’3″ or taller is diminished because of the 5’11” Wilson.

Running back committees have almost become automatic in this day and age. But when looking at the success Seattle had with a bruising, workhorse back like Lynch and a competent backup in Robert Turbin, getting somebody who can carry the load will be of extreme importance.

The Seahawks have definitely created the template here. And multiple teams will now be hoping to emulate Seattle’s roster. Obviously some organizations will fail badly at doing so. Others might achieve the success of San Francisco and Carolina, which are both very similar to Seattle. But will anybody be able to reach the heights that the Seahawks did this year? Or will it be the team from the Pacific Northwest repeating again as champs? You can bet that this will be a busy offseason as teams try to prevent the latter from happening again.

NFL Changes: Expanded Playoffs, eliminating Extra Point?

roger-goodell-nfl-playoffsFollowing every NFL season, commissioner Roger Goodell and his cronies look at ways that they can improve the league. Sure, Super Bowl XLVIII is still a week and a half away, but to the NFL’s top brass, it’s already time to start planning ahead. And this means that there could possibly be a huge rule change or two in the works.

One rule change that could be happening in 2014 is the elimination of extra points. This would only work to further take the “foot” out of football. But certain fans and coaches think that the play is a waste of time because of how often kickers make PAT’s. Others, like New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, think that it needs to be modified somehow.

“I would be in favor of not seeing it be an over 99 percent conversion rate,” Belichick told CBS.com. “It’s virtually automatic. That’s just not the way the extra point was put into the game. It was an extra point that you actually had to execute and it was executed by players who were not specialists, they were position players.”

stephen-gostkowskiEven a few kickers themselves aren’t totally opposed to seeing a change in how extra points are performed. Belichick’s kicker, Stephen Gostkowski, told CBS that it wouldn’t be so bad to move the mark back a few yards. “If they want to move it back, go ahead, but completely eliminating it would be a terrible, terrible thing,” he said. “It’s such a good game the way it is, I don’t know why we have to go change everything all the time.”

It’s unclear how much support there is among top league officials with regard to getting rid of or changing extra points. So we can’t quite say it’s automatic (or rather an extra point) that PAT’s will be taken out of the game. Something else big that’s being discussed is a playoff expansion in 2-3 years.

The last time that the playoffs were expanded was 1990, when an additional Wild Card slot was added in both conferences. This made for a total of three division champions (now four) and three Wild Cards. Now, Goodell wants to expand the amount of teams that make the postseason from 12 to 14.

nfl-playoffs-expandedAdding a couple more teams would create lots excitement near the end of the playoff chase. Furthermore, it would add another playoff game in each conference, bringing more television revenue to the league. For this big change to pass, it’d need approval by 24 of the 32 NFL team owners. Of course, this is going to be easier said than done.

New York Giants co-owner John Mara didn’t exactly give the change a ringing endorsement. “Until we have a discussion on it on the floor, it’s hard to say,” he told the Washington Post. “You need 24 votes in this league. Is there enough support? It’s hard to say. I have mixed feelings on it. I’ve always been opposed. One of my concerns is when do you play the games. I think there are some issues there. I’m also concerned about watering the playoffs down. But I’m still willing to listen to the other side.”

Assuming most other owners disagree with Mara’s assessment and vote in favor of an expanded postseason, the change wouldn’t take place until at least 2015. But there’s no telling if owners would even get around to deciding the issue by then.

For the past few years, the idea of eliminating the preseason and changing the amount of regular season games from 16 to 18 has been kicked around. But after lots of talks and discussions on the matter, it doesn’t seem like team owners have any intention of adding two more regular season games.

2014 Super Bowl Betting Prediction

peyton-manningEarly into the 2013-14 NFL season, many analysts tabbed the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks to meet in Super Bowl XLVIII. Of course, we all know how these early-season predictions can quickly be derailed through the lengthy grind of an NFL season. But in this case, the best two teams will be battling each other for the Lombardi Trophy. Now, the big question is which of these squads has the upper hand as we head towards the February 2nd showdown in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Both teams finished with a 13-3 record, which tied for the league’s best record. You could make an argument for either team playing in the league’s toughest conference. In the AFC West, Denver twice played playoff-bound clubs in Kansas City and San Diego. Seattle, meanwhile, played their NFC West division rival San Francisco twice in the regular season and in the NFC Championship game. They also played a 10-win team in Arizona two times during the season.

So there’s not much that can be learned from either team’s regular season record or division. Does either team have much experience in the big game? Not really. It’s been 15 years since the Broncos last made it to the Super Bowl. In 1999, John Elway led Denver to a victory over the Atlanta Falcons, marking their second straight Lombardi Trophy. Seattle’s lone Super Bowl was in 2006, when they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers. There are no holdovers from this team to teach the current Seahawks what to expect in the world’s biggest football game.

If there’s any separation to be found, it’s in what the Broncos and Seahawks do best. For Denver, this means scoring points, which they did at a record pace after breaking the all-time points-per-game mark with 37.9 PPG, tallying 6 different games where they topped 40 points. Peyton Manning made it look easy as he set some history of his own by throwing for 5,477 yards and 55 TD’s. It certainly doesn’t hurt his cause that he has Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker to throw the ball to.

russell-wilsonSeattle did their damage on defense by holding opponents to a league-best 14.4 PPG. They were especially effective against quarterbacks after holding signal callers to a meager 172 passing yards per game. Their offense is pretty solid too, led by second-year QB Russell Wilson and RB Marshawn Lynch.

But make no mistake about it, the attention will all be on how Peyton and his receivers deal with CB Richard Sherman and the vaunted Seattle pass defense/rush. Believe it or not, this is actually just the first time that the league’s number one passing attack will square off against the top pass defense.

Sherman summed up the challenge that his team will be facing by writing the following on his Sports Illustrated blog:

The Broncos stand in our way, and it’s a large obstacle. They’ve got the smartest quarterback in football and receivers who are large (mostly), explosive with the football and run great routes. Wes Welker is quick and elusive, Eric Decker is a great receiver with hands and speed, and Demaryius Thomas is as strong as they come. And Peyton knows how to get each of them in spots.

Sherman is easily one of the league’s cockiest and best players. So when he starts touting the weapons on Denver’s offense, you know they have to be good! Of course, Seattle is far from a pushover, and they’d be a Super Bowl favorite in many other years. But with Peyton playing in his third career Super Bowl and the Broncos coming off an easy 10-point win over the Patriots in the AFC Championship game, we like Denver in this one.

2014 Super Bowl Prediction: Denver 27, Seattle 20

GTBets.eu Line: Denver -2.5   Over/Under 47 (-110)

Vegas Line: Denver -2.5