Which NFL defense can stop future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos electrifying offense?
“Seattle,” Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter told ESPN’s Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic on their morning radio show Tuesday.
There is only one date on this season’s NFL calendar when that theory can be tested: Feb. 2 at Super Bowl XLVIII.
Manning is on pace to shatter every major NFL single-season passing record. He has thrown 12 touchdowns in his first three games. At this pace, he will throw for 64 touchdowns (NFL record is 50) and 6,096 yards (record is 5,476 yards). He’s also thrown no interceptions.
PHOTOS: Scenes from the sidelines: Seahawks vs. Broncos
But that doesn’t mean Manning is just going to coast to MetLife Stadium. Although he has been to two Super Bowls and won a Lombardi Trophy, he has a history of losing in the first round of the playoffs. In 12 postseason trips, Manning’s teams have lost their first game eight times.
Carter had some tips about how to stop the juggernaut Denver offense and its tall receivers like Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, along with smaller, do-everything receiver Wes Welker.
“You make Peyton rush. You get his team down. You make him make decisions faster than he wants to make decisions, that’s how you combat Peyton Manning,” said Carter. “When they throw the ball, no yards after the catch. And you gotta nail (the receivers). You’ve got to be physical with them so that, over the course of the game, they feel that.”
When Golic asked Carter which defense had the personnel to do that, it only took Carter a half-second to answer.
”Seattle. Because they have the rushers and they have the coverage people and they have the size, the body mass,” said Carter. “The personnel matchups that Seattle can present and the rushers that they, in a 3- and 4-man front … that would be the matchup if you wanted to draw it up on paper.”
Carter added that any team that faces the Broncos needs to be able to hold onto the ball on offense and keep it out of Manning’s hands. Seattle matches up well in that case, too. They are currently 5th in average time of possession at 33:10.
ESPN’s Week 4 NFL power rankings released Tuesday have Seattle at No. 1 followed by Denver. Undefeated teams New Orleans, Chicago and New England round out the top 5.
The Seahawks beat the Broncos 40-10 in the preseason at CenturyLink Field. Although it was a meaningless game, Seattle kept Denver's first team mostly in check on the way to a 33-7 halftime lead.