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How To Predict The Super Bowl Champions


"Rule Britannia." But did you hear, did you hear? There's a football game tomorrow. Time for sports.


SIMON: For the first time since the Bronze Age, or at least since 1995, two teams from the West are in the Super Bowl. Between beer and Cialis ads, football's best offense, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, goes up against football's best defense, Richard Sherman and the Seattle Seahawks. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Tom, thanks so much for being with us.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Always a pleasure.

SIMON: So do you give the edge - how many times have we heard this question this week? Who gets the edge, my friend? The better offense or the better defense?

GOLDMAN: Well, as Dante always said, Scott...



GOLDMAN: Defense wins championships. The numbers support that. According to the crack research unit at Sports Illustrated, teams that finish the regular season with a defense that allowed the fewest points, like Seattle this season, they are 13 and 5 in Super Bowls. Teams that scored the most points, like Denver this season, are 10 and 11 in Super Bowls.

SIMON: Hmm. But of course, Peyton Manning, 37 and, you know, a new neck put together with, you know, with library paste has never been better. He is famous for calling audibles, never giving a defense a chance to get set, right?


SIMON: Omaha, Minnesota, right? That's what he does to say listen up.


SIMON: So how do you see this playing out? Can his ingenuity throw the Seattle defense off kilter?

GOLDMAN: You know, it might. And another thing that might do it is the hurry-up offense. You know, certainly that's part of Peyton's arsenal and a good way to keep any defense on its heels, especially a unit like Seattle, which likes to rotate defensive players in and out of the game to change formations. And they'll have to do it really fast if they have a chance at all versus the Broncos hurry-up offense.

Denver reportedly ran more no-huddle plays than any team this season. Another possible strategy for Denver against the fearsome Seattle defensive backs - clump your many talented wide receivers together at the line before the snap. It makes it harder for Seattle's defensive backs to bump all those receivers at the beginning of the play, potentially allowing those receivers a quick opening. So he's got stuff up his sleeve, including Omaha.

SIMON: So much has been said already about this game. We've just got a minute. Tell us something we haven't heard that might give us any insight to help us predict a winner.

GOLDMAN: You know, I have drilled down here, Scott, and you know, a good four to five minutes of research and frankly...


GOLDMAN: ...you know, I'm shocked at the so-called metrics experts haven't come up with these. The date tomorrow, Scott, Super Bowl Sunday, is February 2nd, 2014, 2-2-14. That does that add up to?

SIMON: Two, two and fourteen adds up to eighteen.

GOLDMAN: What's Peyton Manning's jersey number?

SIMON: Oh, oh my gosh. You have it.

GOLDMAN: Hold on. Here's another, another. The halftime entertainment, Bruno Mars. Scott, what do you think his birthday is? I'll tell you.

SIMON: OK, please yes.

GOLDMAN: October 8th, 10-8. Ten plus eight.

SIMON: Which is 18. Tom, you're onto something, my man. But, all right, a prediction. You go first.

GOLDMAN: The signs are there, Scott. Broncos 34-31.

SIMON: Oh, all right. I'm going to say Broncos by 14 too. And since we have a few seconds, give us your prediction for the puppy bowl.


GOLDMAN: The cutest little mutt will take it deep and, I don't know, Scott.

SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman who covers everything for us, and you're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from No. 18, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.