Prime Cuts

Slices of great NFL content from around the web

Dysert: Pre-snap, Peyton is mostly interested in the safeties

Break It Down: How Broncos QB Peyton Manning reads a play

“He’s [looking] more at the safeties than linebackers,” Dysert said. “Pretty much at the snap is where they’re going to move. You can identify just by the positions of the linebacker where they’re going to go. Maybe if [the safeties] are backed up, you can plan for blitz … things like that.”

Not that the Seahawks staff is reading a few days before the SB, but given Manning's MO, what are chances that Dysert was completely honest for this piece?

Brown: Manning/Gase have added wrinkles with more diverse pre-snap looks

Better With Age

The alternative to trying to fool Manning, and therefore risking being caught out of position, is to simply line up and play base defense. But unless a defense has better players than Denver — unlikely against an offense featuring five players who scored 10 or more touchdowns — that’s not a great answer, either. There’s no such thing as a defense without weaknesses, and Manning knows them all.

Line up and play base defense? That's exactly what Seattle does, as they hardly ever disguise their coverages.

On Sunday, the Legion of Boom will take on the same dilemma faced by every Denver opponent this season: how in the world can you cover all of these guys?

The HOF case for Terrell Davis, once more

Terrell Davis, and What Makes a Hall of Famer

In his rookie season, Portis rushed for more than 1,500 yards, and the case against Terrell Davis, Hall of Famer began. Portis wasn’t alone. Both Mike Anderson and Olandis Gary managed 1,000-yard seasons in Denver, and the notion caught on that the Broncos’ “system” deserved the credit. “I blocked for every one of those guys,” Nalen says. “There wasn’t anyone that compared to TD.”

Nothing new here, but it all bears repeating until TD is finally enshrined. Anyone who regularly watched Terrell Davis during his prime knows that Nalen is absolutely correct; those other guys posted some big numbers for a year or two, but none of them were on TD's level, especially when considering his postseason career - the greatest by any running back in NFL history.

Burke: Tougher schedule suggests Seahawks are somewhat better team

Super Bowl Prediction: Slight Edge to Seahawks

If we could theoretically have each team play a notionally average opponent at a neutral site, each would win about 70 percent of the time. The hidden difference between the two teams is their résumés. Seattle has achieved its numbers along a tougher road than Denver…Accounting for strength of schedule, Seattle is the slightly stronger team and should be favored to win Super Bowl XLVIII with an edge of 52 percent to 48 percent.

Remember - this doesn't mean Burke's data predicts a close game, or that the Seahawks will win. Rather, it suggests that Seattle might have a tiny edge in a 100-game series, all else equal.

Wasn’t so long ago that the 12th Man wanted to give Wilson the hook

Seahawks fans wanted Russell Wilson benched in early 2012

Another 27 percent of respondents believed that starting Wilson was the right choice at the beginning of the season, but because he was struggling, they thought Pete Carroll should move on to Flynn. That means 60 percent of the voters in the poll [wanted] Flynn to start in Week 5.

It's a good thing (for Seattle) that the 12th Man never reached the billboard stage of things.

Corry: Broncos will hold all the cards with Champ in offseason

Agent's Take: Future HOF Champ Bailey's options: Less cash, retire

The Broncos have leverage in a renegotiation with Bailey. His scheduled salary doesn’t reflect the market for older defensive backs…The Broncos have established a salary range for one-year deals with cornerbacks expected to make significant contributions. Tracy Porter signed a fully guaranteed one-year, $4 million deal in 2012 to start opposite Bailey. Rodgers-Cromartie has replaced Porter with his fully-guaranteed, one-year, $5 million contract.

We've been discussing this throughout the year; Champ and the Broncos will soon face a very difficult choice. Perhaps there will be a ring on his hand to soften the blow a bit...

Belichick: Facing Peyton isn’t actually ‘fun’

Super Bowl XLVIII will ride on Peyton Manning and Bill Belichick knows that's hard for an opposing coach

“With (Manning) it is every ... single … thing. It’s cadence. It’s formations. It’s little adjustments he’ll have guys make in pass routes. A protection on an inside-the-20-yard-line play. The changes he’ll make on third down, or with play action. But it’s all within the context of their offense. And it’s not 50 different things. Maybe there’ll be five plays in a game that you’ll think, ‘I haven’t seen that before.’ Or: ‘I haven’t seen that in several weeks.’ But you know you’ve seen all the rest of it before, and somehow he’s still making it work.

When he's not busy distracting us by taking on the sore loser role, you won't find much better insight than what comes from Bill Belichick's mouth.

Eli: I thought Peyton was done after first neck surgery

Eli Manning feared neck surgeries would end Peyton Manning's career

“I saw him after that first surgery, this neck surgery, and I was pretty much convinced that he was done,” Eli Manning said on NFL Network Wednesday. “There was no way he could come back and play football. That first time he went and we were just throwing it in the backyard of our house. We’re throwing 15 yards away, and it was a lob. He couldn’t throw 15 yards on a line. It had no pop.”

Of course, some think Peyton's throws still have no pop. But he says he's proud of his ducks, and why shouldn't he be?

PFF: Don’t sleep on Robert Ayers

Pre-Super Bowl Fun Facts

But Knighton isn’t the only one bringing heat from the right side. The AFC Championship was the sixth game in a row that RE Robert Ayers (+13.3) has graded out in the green. He had four quarterback hurries and a stop against New England and beat Patriots LT Nate Solder (+28.6) for a sack.

Over those six games, PFF has Ayers down for three sacks, two QB hits, 20 hurries (17 of them in the last three games!), nine tackles, two assists, and 10 stops.

First-round bust? Nah. How about peaking at just the right time?

Cosell: Expect to see Broncos run WR screen in scoring area

Greg Cosell’s Super Bowl Preview: Breaking down Denver’s screen pass to Demaryius Thomas

Screens can be stopped when the defense can press, but because of the bunch alignment of Decker and Welker, that option is eliminated. For the defense it’s all about rallying to the football once the catch is made. You’re not preventing the completion. You’re trying to make this a 6-yard play instead of a touchdown.

According to PFF, Demaryius Thomas led all wideouts with 697 yards after the catch, with five of his 14 regular season touchdowns including 15 or more YAC.