By Brent Stecker
The Denver Broncos are the AFC champions, one of only two 13-win teams in the NFL this season, and riding a wave of momentum on offense led by one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, Peyton Manning.
That doesn't make them the favorites to win the Super Bowl over the Seahawks on Sunday, at least when it comes to CBS analyst and two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Phil Simms.
CBS analyst Phil Simms said the key to Sunday's Super Bowl is whether or not the Broncos defense can contain Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. (AP)
Simms told 710 ESPN Seattle's "Brock and Danny" Tuesday that the Seahawks are unlike anything the Broncos have played all year, and that goes for both their top-ranked defense and conservative offense.
Even with Manning at the helm of the Broncos offense, Simms expects Seattle's 'D' to continue its dominance.
"Yes, Denver's had some success, but this is the best defense in the NFL, for real," Simms said. "The concept's awesome. It's kinda built to stop some passing games, and they have so many guys that can rush the passer. The Denver Broncos have not seen a defense like this all year long, so that's what I'm so fascinated about and can't wait to see this weekend."
The Broncos still have their NFL-leading 36.4 points per game in 2013, something the Seahawks can't hold a candle to at 25.7 points per game. But Simms said Seattle has gotten away with it because of how it's built around the defense, which leads the league with just 14.6 points allowed per game.
"They are conservative in my eyes. Russell Wilson takes very few chances, and that's smart. And why? Because that's who they are," Simms said. "They know, 'Why take a chance?' Punt the ball, and you're probably gonna get the football back in three downs."
As for Denver's defense, which allowed 24 points per game during the regular season, Simms notes that it could run into problems against the Seahawks' elusive quarterback, Russell Wilson.
"Denver is fast. They can over-play, over-pursue, and lose assignments and containment, those type of things as much as any defense for a big-time team in the NFL," he said. "If they do that against Seattle, Russell Wilson is gonna have some scrambles that are gonna be talked about for a long time in Super Bowl history, and he's gonna get some big throws down the field if you do that."
As Simms sees it, the Broncos' ability to contain Wilson will be the key to the game.
"That's another part of the game -- can they contain Russell Wilson? To me, he's the most mobile quarterback in the NFL, because he's explosive, he's smaller, he can kinda get down and take off, he runs quick," he said. "I think he's gonna be tough to contain, and if Denver doesn't blitz him in the right time to keep him in there, I think that Russell Wilson will have a good day, and he'll make those big plays that could be the difference."