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Of Brawn and Brain

Albert Einstein was a brilliant man and although you don’t have to be Einstein to theorize who might become Super Bowl champions on Sunday, it wouldn’t hurt.

In terms of analyzing football games, there are many people I respect that believe the Denver Broncos are going to beat Seattle in Super Bowl XLVIII. And although I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if they did, I honestly don’t know where the certainty or conviction in their voices comes from.

In a gross simplification of the truth, there are two attributes a football team must possess: physicality and finesse. All teams tend to lean toward one or the other of these polar opposites, some try to balance the two, while all use a combination thereof.

A physical football team lines up and attacks you with a powerful rushing attack, plays great rush defense with disciplined gap-control, gets pressure by being better than the linemen trying to block them, walks their corners over your receivers and physically tries to reroute receivers in man-cover, tackles extremely well and creates turnovers by being physical. Physical teams tend to punish their opponents, beating them with their brawn.

A finesse football team throws the ball very well, uses screens/draws to attack the defense, employs slants and stunts and run-down blitzes to stop the run, manufactures pressure via scheme, mixes up their coverage very well, and relies heavily on schemes/coverage to generate takeaways. Finesse teams tend to out-think their opponent, beating them with their brain.

There are physical football players that play in a finesse scheme. There are smart, athletic players that play on a physical team. But more times than not, the sum of the parts tend toward being more physical or more of a finesse team. And coaching is about figuring out what the sum of your team’s parts are, nurturing a team’s identity by putting those parts in the best position to make plays.

Without speaking in absolutes, realizing there are always exceptions to the rule, finesse teams typically don’t translate well in bad weather — where footing, freezing temperatures and wind direction alter their effectiveness. Physical teams tend to embrace bad weather games, where their brutality thrives in the morose conditions of sleet, snow and gale-force winds. Physical teams want to get finesse teams into a slow, methodical bloodletting. Finesse teams typically desire pace and space, running circles around physical teams by getting them into an air-brawl.

The Seattle Seahawks have the more physical football team. The Denver Broncos are known more for their finesse. The weather, most likely, looks like it might favor the Seahawks.

Theoretically, Seattle should win this game by getting Denver into a port-a-potty and beating their brains out (metaphorically speaking, of course).

But theories sometimes suck buttermilk: Google “Einstein’s Universe.”