Ahead of the Super Bowl on Sunday, the good people at Redfin -- an online brokerage firm -- have put together a helpful side-by-side comparison of Denver and Seattle. Because, when you get right down to it, this game is about more than the Broncos offense against the Seahawks defense. It's about two cities. It's about two ways of life. It's the West vs. the Pacific Northwest. It's "South Park" vs. "Frasier." It's legalized pot vs. -- well, both have legalized pot, so scratch that.
As you make your predictions for Super Bowl XLVIII, here's your birds-eye-view of the cities themselves: What each town offers, how the fans live, and, yes -- how some of the players live too.
For starters, both teams hail from highly-educated, highly-active cities of roughly 600,000. About half the residents in both cities own their own home, but buying a spot in Seattle will cost you quite a bit more. In 2013, Seattle's median home price was $403,402, while Denver's was $260,547. But, as Redfin notes, the median household income in Seattle is about $14,000 higher than Denver's. Point Seattle.
In terms of affordability, though, it's a draw. According to Trulia, in 2013, 55 percent of for-sale homes in both Denver and Seattle were "within reach" for the city's middle-class.
Despite the price difference, houses in Seattle and Denver are roughly the same size -– about 1,600 square feet. In this match-up, though, Denver holds the home-turf advantage, literally. The city's average lot is 750 square-feet larger than Seattle's. This probably doesn't bother the typical Seattleite all that much, considering their city is cloudy 226 days a year. Point Denver.
So Seattle sees Denver's backyard barbecues and raises them a cup of coffee, a comfortable chair, and the latest Michael Chabon novel. Draw.
But we all know that the good people of Denver and Seattle didn't move to the cities Mile High and Emerald to just hang around the house. These towns are, of course, famous for their natural resources, which offer endless opportunities like hiking, skiing, and shopping at REI. Studies show that all this physical activity is paying off; Seattle and Denver recently ranked Nos. 8 and 9 in the American College of Sports Medicine's "Fitness Index."
And these folks aren't just fit; they're highly educated. In Denver, 45 percent of residents 25 years or older hold at least a bachelor's degree, but running away is Seattle with 58 percent. Both top the national average of 33 percent, but you don't get to the Super Bowl by just being better-than-average. Point Seattle.
OK, enough about the city's residents -- or the commoners, if you will -- let's talk about the players and the places they call home.
A few months after Peyton Manning signed his $96-million deal with the Broncos, he bought his family a cozy 16,000-square-foot Georgian estate. The $4.5 million mansion (pictured in the slideshow below) has seven bedrooms, 7½ bathrooms, a billiards room, a home theater, a "dog room with indoor/outdoor heated kennel," and, why not, a "gun/safe room." Oh, and there's a seven-car garage because why "go big or go home" when you can comfortably afford to do both at the same time?
The Seahawks' Russell Wilson makes a fraction of Manning's haul -- about $520,000 in 2013 -- and that's not likely to change any time soon. Because, according to NBC Sports: "Under the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, all contracts for draft picks have a mandatory length of four years. And those contracts cannot be renegotiated until three seasons have passed." We'll check back in with Wilson around then. In the meantime ... Point Denver. Actually, two points Denver. Do you remember the thing about the seven-car garage? Crazy.
According to Sports Illustrated, the Seahawks' Richard Sherman currently lives in a suburban home "so quiet that you can hear kids playing in the cul-de-sac, the birds chirping in the pines, the charcoal crackling on the Weber." If Sherman ever decides that he wants to upgrade from this bucolic retreat, Redfin thinks this $1.1 million home that's surrounded by 10 acres of trees would be a nice fit.
But what about you -- The Humble Fan? While you might not make NFL money, there are plenty of options to live near the game in either city. Redfin has listings for about 300 homes near Mile High Stadium and close to 200 by CenturyLink Field. But, be warned, if you want to live near one of these stadiums, it's going to cost you quite a bit more. Point you?
It's impossible to know what's in store for the Seahawks and Broncos this Sunday, but we do have a sense of where their cities are heading. Only a few years after the recession, both cities' are bouncing back in big ways.
Denver has had one of the strongest housing recoveries in the entire country -- home prices in the city recently hit all-time highs. While Seattle didn't shatter any records in that department for 2013, they still posted a dramatic year-over-year increase. And in 2014, Zillow predicts that Seattle will be the second "Hottest Housing Market" in the country. The ranking is based on the "Zillow Home Value Forecast," a city's population growth and its unemployment rate. Draw.
And, ultimately, Sunday's game may come down to that latter piece of data -- unemployment. Because according to an analysis by RiseSmart -- an outplacement company -- "the team whose fan base enjoys greater economic prosperity, as measured by lower unemployment rates, has won 20 of the past 25 Super Bowls."
Since Denver's unemployment is currently 0.8 of a percentage point higher than Seattle's, that gives the edge to the Seahawks. Point jobs.
Henry Melcher is a writer and producer based in Brooklyn, N.Y. He has worked on FXX's "Totally Biased w/ W. Kamau Bell," MSNBC's "Up with Chris Hayes" and "Up w/ Steve Kornacki." His writing has appeared on Curbed NY, New York Press and Huffington Post Comedy. He also runs two Tumblr's, "Posing With Friends" and "The Lower Third."