The best passing offense in NFL history vs. unquestionably the NFL’s best defense this season: The Denver Broncos vs. the Seattle Seahawks.

Denver has probably the best passing offense in NFL history, partly because current rules favor throwing the ball. The Broncos set an NFL record with 606 points this season and led the NFL in total yards (7,317), yards passing per game (340.3) and points per game (37.9...No. 2 Chicago averaged 27.8).

Seattle was easily the NFL’s best defensive team this season. The Seahawks allowed the fewest points per game (14.1) and the fewest yards per game (273.6...No. 2 Carolina allowed 301.3 yards per game). Seattle also led the NFL in takeaways (39) and turnover differential (+20). Denver had a 0 turnover differential.

Seattle ranked 17th in total offense (339.0 yards per game) and tied for 8th in scoring (26.1 points per game). Denver ranked 19th in total defense (allowed 356.0 yards per game) and 22nd in scoring defense (allowed 24.9 points per game).

No wonder the Las Vegas wizards of odds couldn’t decide on a favorite late Sunday night when the first lines were posted for Super Bowl 48 (Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium):

LVH – opened with Seattle favored by 2 but a few relatively heavy bets on Denver quickly made Denver the 1-point favorite

Bodog – Denver -1 ... over/under 47.5 points – pick ‘em...over/under 48 points.

Thoughts on Sunday’s NFC and AFC championship games:

Now THAT was a football game:  Seattle 23, San Francisco 17, with the 49ers seemingly closing fast in quest of a game-winning TD, but stymied by an interception in the end zone.

The defenses of the Seahawks and 49ers put on a memorable show in the NFC championship game. It was refreshing to see a super physical defensive duel for a change. Yes, by today’s standards, a 40-point game filled the bill.

Seattle’s ferocious defense and rugged running back Marshawn Lynch will be a tough combination to beat in Super Bowl 48 – even for the explosive Broncos.

Young quarterbacks Russell Wilson (Seattle) and Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco) had their moments but they were minor players compared to their teammates on defense. And it was good to see.

The difference in the game was Seattle’s three takeaways in the fourth quarter. Kaepernick, who sparked San Francisco with his legs (11 runs for 130 yards), came up short with his arm and brain. He got careless and the Seahawks took advantage. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning won’t be so accommodating in Super Bowl 48.

And what about Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman? He talks a big game and isn’t a good sport, but he backs everything up – at least so far. And which defensive player was the focus of post-game media attention? Why, Sherman, of course. He figures to be the star of the two weeks of hype leading to Super Bowl 48.

Seattle QB Wilson made the clutch game-winning TD throw, but he didn’t have a huge game. He didn’t need one. But he’ll have to be more productive against Manning in two weeks. Wilson has a lot of Doug Flutie in him – his size, moves and instincts. I wonder if that’s one reason the Buffalo Bills didn’t draft him. Owner Ralph Wilson wasn’t Flutie’s biggest fan.

In the AFC championship game, injuries finally caught up with the New England Patriots in Sunday’s not-as-close-as-it-looks 26-16 loss at Denver.  It really was a tribute to that organization that the team got so far with so much adversity. The defeat figures to give the
Patriots fresh enthusiasm and motivation to bounce back with a healthy roster (featuring Rob Gronkowski) next season. New England still is the class of the AFC East, and by quite a bit.

New England and AFC East rivals Buffalo and the New York Jets all desperately need a tall and talented big-time receiver. Let’s see which team comes up with the best one. My hunch is the Patriots.

I don’t know if Peyton Manning will wind up being the popular choice for “all-time best NFL quarterback.”  He certainly will be in the running. But – in all fairness – Peyton has taken full advantage of the most passer-friendly rules in league history. I wonder what the career passing numbers of QBs such as Fouts, Marino, Kelly, Warner, etc., would look if they played today.

LeGarrette Blount was a missing person for the Patriots in Sunday’s loss. He was ineffective early (5 carries for 6 yards) and then disappeared. Was Bill Belichick trying to be super smart?  Did he figure the Broncos had figured out the secret of how to stop Blount? In New England’s two previous games, Blount had 48 carries for 355 yards (7.8-yard average) and 6 TDs. I picked the Patriots, figuring Blount would be the difference.  He didn’t get much of a chance. I think Belichick gave up on him too soon.


Thumbs up to the Knighthawks, Amerks, Lancers and RazorSharks for an undefeated weekend for Rochester’s pro teams.

Could Syracuse U. freshman point guard Tyler Ennis be working on All-ACC First Team honors – at least. His 11.9 points per game isn’t spectacular but his assists-to-turnover ratio is (99/24 through 18 games).

The Buffalo Sabres don’t always play in Shootouts – it only seems that way.  They’ve played in 10 Shootouts. They’re 3-2 home and 3-2 away. They’re 13x39 (.333) on shots and have held opponents to 11x40 (.275).