Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Greg Cosell, a professional football expert and senior producer at NFL Films Inc., said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend, that he expects the Denver Broncos will win a close Super Bowl game on Feb. 2 on the strength of Peyton Manning, who he called probably the best quarterback in history.
(This is not a legal transcript. Bloomberg LP cannot guarantee its accuracy.)
AL HUNT: Super Bowl weekend. Who better to get the most insight than the premier NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell? Greg, thank you for being with us. Sunday has the potential for a great game. Is there one particular match up that you think could be determinative?
GREG COSELL: Well Al, how can you not look at Peyton Manning and that pass offense, number-one ranked in so many categories, against the Seattle Seahawks defense, No. 1 ranked in so many categories? So you have the best versus the best, and that is the most intriguing element of this game.
HUNT: Well, Peyton Manning has gotten great protection this year. Someone called his offense line like the Great Wall of China. But that’s a heck of a defensive line for Seattle. Who do you give the edge to in that match up?
COSELL: Well Al, I would look at that a little differently maybe than most. I think Peyton Manning is very responsible for that statistic as well, the fact that he’s not been sacked very much. He has probably the best internal clock of any quarterback that’s ever played, and he gets rid of the ball so quickly.
There have been games this year, and we actually charted this when we looked at games as to how quickly he got rid of the football, and very often the ball was out in two seconds or less. When the ball is out in two seconds or less from snap to delivery, the offensive line could take a vacation and the defense wouldn’t get there in time. So I think they work together extremely well, the Broncos’ offensive line and Peyton Manning’s ability to get rid of the ball so quickly.
HUNT: He’s a great quarterback, has been for a long time, but Peyton Manning is really a different quarterback today than he was five, seven years ago, isn’t he Greg?
COSELL: Yes he is. And I can’t remember - and Al, I’ve been doing this far longer than I’d like to think, but I can’t remember a quarterback that’s in a sense reinvented himself. This year I decided to take a look back at some of Peyton Manning’s film from 2005, 2006 and 2007. And 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. Now he still can get it out there every once in a while when a match-up dictates, but 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.
HUNT: Greg, even before the whistle blows Sunday night, how does Peyton Manning rank in the pantheon of quarterbacks, the greatest, one of the three greatest?
COSELL: He’s one of the three greatest, and you could make an argument that he is the greatest. I think you could look at Peyton Manning and see a quarterback that’s been at the forefront of the evolution of the NFL game since he came into the league.
In many ways he’s responsible for the evolution of the game. And of course for people who just look at numbers, meaning Super Bowl victories, then it’s simply a mathematical equation. There’s no debate. You just look at number of Super Bowl victories. I think it goes far deeper than that. I think the subject is far more nuanced and complex. And I think Peyton Manning, 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.
HUNT: Greg, there’s an old expression in Texas that it ain’t bragging if you can do it. Let’s turn to the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman. Is he bragging or can he really do it?
COSELL: He’s a great, great player. But the interesting thing about Richard Sherman is he’s a terrific press corner when he lines up right on the line of scrimmage. Teams have had success against him this year when by formation they’ve been able to back him off and make him play out what we call off coverage. And it would not surprise me to see the Broncos through formation and then their route concepts that work off that to get him backed off.
And I don’t think Peyton Manning will go into this game saying, I’m not going to throw to Richard Sherman. I don’t think that that the Broncos and Peyton will take that approach at all.
HUNT: And we talked about the strengths of both teams. I wouldn’t call them weaknesses, but Russell Wilson, as great as he is as a runner, he’s a young player, he’s not - he’s not a terrific passer. The Broncos’ secondary is not one of the better in the league. Who wins that battle of vulnerabilities?
COSELL: Well it’s interesting you mention that because most coaches will take the approach that if a team has a weak link you attack it. And you can easily make the argument that the Broncos’ secondary is a little bit of a weak link. And while Seattle is not really a passing team, it would not surprise me to see Russell Wilson and that offense take some shots early in the game to test that Denver secondary, particularly the safeties. And you can do that with how you choose to run your routes.
HUNT: Greg, you’re on a winning streak that would make our old friend Steve Sabol proud. You’ve predicted the last two Super Bowl winners, both underdogs. You came darn close to getting the score right in both games. When the gun goes off Sunday night, what’s that scoreboard going to look like?
COSELL: Al, I’m breaking out into a cold sweat here. You’re putting me under a lot of pressure. Let’s say - I’m going to pick Denver 27, Seattle 24.
HUNT: Twenty-seven, 24. And with that score Peyton Manning is going to have probably a banner night then, right?
COSELL: Well, my sense is that the Broncos could not win without Peyton being the driving force behind the victory. Seattle could win without Russell Wilson being the driving force because he’s essentially not in the way they’ve reached this point.
HUNT: OK. Greg Cosell, the very best. Thank you so much for being with us, and we’ll all be watching Sunday night.
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