Extra Points: Weather figures to help Seahawks

 

The Sports Network

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Will it or won't it?

Instead of Bruno Mars or the Red Hot Chili Peppers, perhaps the NFL should have went with the "Snow Miser" to headline the Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show.

The Lazy Song could be replaced by "I'm Mr. White Christmas, I'm Mr. Snow. I'm Mr. Icicle, I'm Mr. Ten Below. Friends call me Snow Miser, Whatever I touch turns to snow in my clutch. I'm too much."

This year's Super Bowl is the NFL's first attempt at holding the big game in an outdoor venue in a cold weather city.

Previous stints in cities like Minneapolis, Detroit and Indianapolis were nuisances perhaps to the media and fans attending the game, but climate- controlled buildings made sure Mother Nature wasn't an issue in regards to the actual competition.

That all changes this time around and it's not a question of whether the weather will affect the title tilt between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, it's a question of how much?

After Tuesday's blizzard in the Northeast, fingers are crossed that snow won't hamper the game or the festivities surrounding it, and they should be. A normal 50-minute commute in the Philadelphia area for me turned into a 3 1/2-hour nightmare with every conceivable route jammed with people who aren't exactly adept at navigating through gobs and gobs of the white stuff.

And understand we are just 90 miles due south of where the game between the Seahawks and the Broncos will be played, MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Interestingly, Denver receives about 54 inches of snow per year according to AccuWeather, far more than North Jersey in a typical winter cycle. Conversely, Seattle receives a mere seven inches of the white stuff every year.

Despite those numbers, most believe treacherous weather will heavily favor the Seahawks due to the fact that lower temperatures and any kind of precipitation will alter Peyton Manning's ability to throw the football.

Manning, of course, has had the best statistical season in NFL history, breaking multiple NFL passing records, most notably the single-season marks for touchdowns (55) and passing yards (5,477), while piloting an offense which led the league in scoring (37.9 points per game) and totaled the most points (606) in NFL history.

The knock on one of the greatest QBs of all-time, though, is the fact that most believe the colder it gets, the tougher it is for Manning to throw the football, a laughable criticism because it's such an obvious dart to throw and could be hurled at any signal caller.

Let's face it, even before the four neck surgeries put his career in doubt at the end of his stay in Indianapolis, Manning was never thought off as a flamethrower in the mold of a Brett Favre or Colin Kaepernick.

"(Manning) throws spirals and they're there, or he throws a wobbler, and it still gets there just the same," All-Pro Seahawks corner Richard Sherman said. "He really doesn't care how he delivers the ball because it gets there just the same, accurately and on point. That's what makes him a great quarterback. Sometimes he'll catch the ball and he won't catch it with the laces, and he'll throw it without the laces and get it exactly where he wants to get it. He doesn't care how it looks and the receivers don't care because all of them have 10 touchdowns right now, and everybody is getting what they deserve."

A pragmatic view by Sherman who understands throwing the football in cold weather is not only tougher for Manning, it's tougher on everyone, including Seattle signal caller Russell Wilson. Gripping the ball in the cold can become an issue, and logic says precipitation can make it slick.

Manning was superlative in the AFC Championship Game win over New England, throwing for 400 yards and two touchdowns without an interception, but the temperature in Denver on that day was an unseasonably warm 60 degrees at kickoff, which is over 20 degrees higher than the current long-range forecasts for the Super Bowl's temperature.

In Manning's four playoff games that have been played in temperatures below 40 degrees, his interception rate has gone up while the completion percentage comes down. The same holds true for most signal callers, however.

Some believe Wilson and the Seahawks are better equipped to handle the elements because Seattle is a team which generally doesn't rely on airing it out even in pristine conditions. Meanwhile, while vertically challenged, Wilson possesses very large hands, measured at 10 1/4 inches, an attribute scouts are very big on these days because in theory, a larger hand allows you to handle the football properly in any conditions.

"We know that the weather could be a factor. So obviously it's been snowing like crazy. I have tons of family back on the East Coast and they're letting me know that it's 12 inches of snow right now," Wilson said. "But hopefully that'll pass over, hopefully that'll go away. If not, then we're going to have to play in it and it'll always be fun to play in the snow."

Fun or not, the far more serious aspect of the likely cold weather for the Broncos is the indisputable fact that shaky conditions do favor the running game and defense over all else. And it's Seattle which possesses Marshawn Lynch and the game's No. 1-rated defensive unit.

Ten days out, the weather forecast for North Jersey is calling for a high of 39 degrees and a low of 24 with a 30 percent chance of that "Snow Miser" showing up with a few scattered showers, certainly not South Beach-type weather but also a long way off from the worst-case scenario.

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