The Biggest X-Factor Heading Into Super Bowl XLVIII

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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 22: Crews work to remove snow from MetLife Stadium, which will host Superbowl XLVIII next month, on January 22, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. In what is being called the first ever 'cold weather superbowl,' the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will face off in front of over 80,000 fans. Cold weather welcome kits have been produced for fans that will include earmuffs, hats, mittens, hand warmers, lip balm, and tissues, among other items. After a snowstorm hit the New York region with a foot of snow earlier this week, the NFL and local authorities are doing everying possible to prepare for a snowstorm on the day of the game. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

(Credit, Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

By Matthew Asher

By now everybody and their grandmother knows the appeal of Super Bowl XLVIII: the league’s top scoring offense takes on the league’s top score-preventing defense. This includes Peyton Manning vs. Richard Sherman, Denver wide receivers vs. Richard Sherman and everybody who didn’t appreciate Richard Sherman’s post-game comments about Michael Crabtree vs. you guessed it…Richard Sherman.

But as much as Richard Sherman, and by extension the rest of Seattle’s defense, is on the minds of those interested in this contest, there is a different X-Factor that may play an even bigger part in the game than the players themselves: the weather.

Manning’s History in Cold Games

It’s no secret that Peyton Manning hasn’t fared particularly well in cold weather games throughout the course of his Hall of Fame career. He is 4-7 lifetime when the temperature is or below 32 degrees at kickoff. Denver’s final regular season loss came in New England when the temperature was  22 degrees. Manning was limited to just 150 passing yards, the lowest of the season.

History Seems to Favor “Defense Winning Championships”

As mentioned earlier this week, this will be the 16th time the top score-preventing defense has reached the Super Bowl. Those defensive powerhouses are currently 12-3 in those games. This is also the 19th time that the top scoring offense will be heading to the Super Bowl. The offensive juggernauts also have a winning record, but a slim 10-8 one.

According to StatsPass.com, this is also the sixth time that the top defense and offense have met in the Super Bowl. The team with the best defense is 4-1. Those four wins for the defense came in Super Bowl I Green Bay over Kansas City, Super Bowl XIII Pittsburgh over Dallas, Super Bowl XIX San Francisco over Miami and Super Bowl XXV New York Giants over Buffalo. And with those games the weather wasn’t even a factor, meaning this may be an even bigger challenge for the Denver Broncos offense. 

Care to guess the one time the top offense defeated the top defense in the Super Bowl? It was exactly half the number of Super Bowls ago, that’s Super Bowl XXIV, when the San Francisco 49ers record 55-10 blowout of the Denver Broncos. Joe Montana finished the game completing 22 of 29 passes for 297 yards and five touchdowns. That game was inside the Louisiana Superdome, not outdoors in the elements.

Current Forecasts Don’t Look Pretty

If you want to stay updated with the MetLife forecast, you can follow the official Twitter account at @MLStadium. There’s also a real-time webcam located at Times Square for the “Countdown to the Big Game of 2014″ to see what the current weather looks like. 

For more news and updates about the NFL Playoffs, visit NFL Playoffs Central.

Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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