The real key to the Super Bowl isn’t Peyton Manning or Richard Sherman; it’s Kam Chancellor

Kam Chancellor is a safety for the Seattle Seahawks. Richard Sherman, a CB for the Seahawks, gets all the attention right now, but from a football sense, a very real and interesting thing happens because of the attention Sherman gets as a cover corner (and not as a post-game interviewee):

QBs don’t target where Sherman is, generally (by these metrics, he’s basically the third most-effective CB in the NFL). As a result, guys like Chancellor — mostly known for big hits (two specifically on Vernon Davis that you should Google) — get crucial INTs.

Although the Chancellor INT of Kaepernick in the NFC Championship Game was only one of three late-game turnovers, it was still a big one — and it foretells a little bit about the situation in The Meadowlands in a little over a week.

Here’s the whole Peyton Manning cold weather narrative. The game should be played between 25 and 37 degrees, but since the kickoff is 1 hour after sundown, it’s probably going to be closer to 30. The magic number for Manning weather stats is 32; there or under and he’s 4-7 all-time (he has 11 total games in that weather and 151 total in no weather because he spent most of his career in a dome). His most notable losses ever — to the Patriots and Ravens, basically — were in big-time cold-weather games. That’s why it’s a story. That’s why it will be a story for the next 10 days. The bigger thing is the why of the actual stat: Manning is an excellent QB, but throwing balls in cold weather against good teams changes the pacing and tempo of your offense. This 2013 Broncos team averages about 38 PPG, which is nuts. The Broncos hung 51 points on the Titans in early December — Manning threw for 397 and 4 TDs — in 18-degree weather, but that’s a sub-par football team who ultimately fired their coach. The Seahawks are not that.

I’m getting to the actual point here. Denver, and Manning, has a bunch of weapons: Julius Thomas, Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, and Wes Welker. Yikes. How could Seattle, even with a very talented secondary, possible cover all those guys?

Well, Kam Chancellor can explain that one for you:

“I think it was starting to happen towards the end of last year, but this year sometimes man it’s like we don’t even say anything, but the movements are just right. It’s like you can feel one another out there on the field, or out here at practice, especially with me and Earl with the way that we funnel the ball to each other. We always talk about that. We always talk about both of us running to the ball. If you miss it, I’m going to make it, If I miss it you’re going to make it. That’s just the mentality we have.”

That’s his relationship with the rest of the secondary: if you miss it, I’m going to make it. It makes sense, considering this is his motto:

… and he regularly puts stuff like this on Instagram:

Brothers

Play for your brothers.

And that’s going to be the real key for this Super Bowl. We don’t know all the defensive and offensive schemes, but the basic idea is that in man coverage, Sherman probably draws D. Thomas or possibly Welker (depends on situation, again). Manning is fearless (for the most part) and confident in his abilities, but you can expect him to target D. Thomas less. If they’re going ball control because of the cold weather, J. Thomas (the TE) will get more looks and opportunities, as will the run game. If Manning’s staying away from Sherman, though, his big ticket items might be Welker and Eric Decker. Depending on the schemes that Seattle uses, Chancellor could be crucial on a ton of different plays — remember, he’s not afraid to go hunt and hit big TEs by any means.

Indeed.

Look, the true fact of the matter is, we have no idea who the real MVP or swing guy for this game will be — not until we ‘lace em up.’ Remember guys like Larry Brown from the Cowboys?

If you were taking bets on less big-name (admittedly, Chancellor was a Pro Bowler this year; he’s just not yet a household name, per se) guys who could have a major impact in the game, Chancellor would be a good one. The absolute key for Seattle has to be stopping that offense’s production — and while that will happen at all three levels, it could often fall to the final level (secondary) to get it done. If you miss it, I’ll make it.

Ted Bauer