“The Broncos could not win without Peyton being the driving force behind the victory,” Cosell said on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend. He predicted that Denver will emerge as 27-24 victors over the Seattle Seahawks, thanks to Manning, who he said was probably the best quarterback in history.
In the annals of National Football League quarterbacks, Manning, 37, is “one of the three greatest, and you could make an argument that he is the greatest,” Cosell said. “In many ways, he’s responsible for the evolution of the game,” he said. “If he’s not in your top three, and maybe at the top of your list, then you’re not really clear as to what you’re watching.”
After 13 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, Manning missed the 2011 season because of neck surgery and then joined the Denver Broncos. This season, he threw for 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards, both NFL records.
In the past, “he would push the ball down the field, intermediate deep throws with good arm strength. Now he’s become in some ways a short passer,” Cosell said. “For the most part, he’s reinvented himself the last two years since the surgery. And I just don’t know if I can think of another quarterback that’s done that at as high or even a higher level than he played previously.”
As for Denver’s Super Bowl opponents, Cosell called Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman “a great, great player.” Sherman deflected a pass intended for San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree in the Jan. 19 National Football Conference championship contest, leading to a game-winning interception. Sherman then called Crabtree a “sorry receiver” in a postgame television interview.
Sherman’s presence won’t deter Manning, who’s likely to throw at him, Cosell said. “I don’t think Peyton Manning will go into this game saying, ‘I’m not going to throw to Richard Sherman,’” Cosell said.
Unlike Manning, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson isn’t the focus of his team’s offense, Cosell said. Wilson, though, could start the game by throwing the ball, trying to test the Broncos’ secondary, which could be considered “a little bit of a weak link,” he said.
“It would not surprise me to see Russell Wilson and that offense take some shots early in the game to test that Denver secondary,” Cosell said.
Cosell, a nephew of the late sportscaster Howard Cosell, has spent more than 25 years with NFL Films.
Super Bowl XLVIII will be played in the New York City suburb of East Rutherford, New Jersey.
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