Super Bowl XLVIII should be a doozy as the Denver Broncos take the NFL’s best offense to New Jersey to face the Seattle Seahawks and the NFL’s most ferocious defense.
It’s hard to imagine Demaryius Thomas struggling, but like NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal said, "The Seahawks turn every quarterback they face into Blaine Gabbert. That's the challenge Manning will face in New Jersey in two weeks.”
Seattle makes it tough on quarterbacks by taking out their best weapons.
In the NFC Championship Game, the Seahawks’ secondary forced Colin Kaepernick out of the pocket. Expect a similar approach with the Broncos and Thomas in the Super Bowl. Plus, Richard Sherman will take away plenty of attempts.
Keep in mind, Thomas had only 54 yards against the San Diego Chargers in the Wild Card.
Thomas won’t be the only wide receiver struggling.
Doug Baldwin, Seattle’s leading receiver will have a matchup with 12-time Pro Bowler Champ Bailey. It’s no secret that the 35-year-old Bailey is hungry for a championship, and he’s played some great football as of late.
Former safety John Lynch commented on Bailey’s AFC title game per the Associated Press' Pat Graham (h/t The State):
"Everyone thinks he's old, over the hill, but he's been a great player throughout his whole career and great players, when it matters most, play great and he certainly did today," Lynch said. "It was fun to watch him today."
Not that Doug Baldwin hasn’t shown up when Seattle needs him, he’s just not always incorporated into the offense. He’s had nine games with three receptions or less this season.
Plus, it’s going to be chilly in New Jersey, which isn’t passing weather.
Speaking of Seattle’s offense, what would they be without Russell Wilson? They might have to answer that in February.
Like the New England Patriots, the Seahawks offense revolves around their run game. Denver shut down the Patriots’ league-best running attack, holding them to 51 total rushing yards on nine attempts.
If Denver has similar success against Seattle, all the pressure goes to Wilson. Versus AFC teams, Wilson’s thrown six touchdowns with three interceptions. He also hasn’t exactly been consistent this postseason either:
Russell Wilson's Stats in 2013-14 Playoffs
Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com pointed out some issues:
Seattle had 11 drives. Only four of them topped 25 yards. They have won all season without an explosive offense or competent pass protection. Russell Wilson is leaving the pocket early and often.
However, Seattle's rush defense should be fine.
Knowshon Moreno is in trouble because Seattle knows how important the Broncos’ run game is to Peyton Manning. When Moreno gets in the end zone, Denver is 6-2 on the season and 9-1 when he runs for 50 or more yards.
Don't expect much from him because the Seahawks’ defense just held San Francisco’s running backs to 31 total yards on 17 attempts.
With that being said, there are plenty of opportunities for role players to step into the spotlight. Manning will look to share the ball to other receivers, and the Seahawks will construct a game plan to make things easier on Wilson.
This year's Super Bowl hero could be anyone.