In what could be one of the most evenly matched Super Bowls ever on paper, the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos will lock horns at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Feb. 2. It is so difficult to place one team above the other that it should come as no surprise that Super Bowl picks are all over the map.
Both teams are No. 1 seeds, and each was the best team in its respective conference for essentially the entire season. Super Bowl XLVIII will also feature a matchup of Denver's top offense against Seattle's top defense, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Seahawks-Broncos is No. 1 scoring offense vs. No. 1 scoring defense, No. 1 total offense vs. No. 1 total defense and matchup of No. 1 seeds.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 20, 2014
As far as impartial fans are concerned, there couldn't possibly be a better contest to end the NFL season. The oddsmakers seem to feel the same way, as the betting line has fluctuated back and forth since both teams clinched a trip to the title game.
Tons of well-respected experts have made their picks for the biggest game of the year, and things are essentially split right down the middle. Since Super Bowl XLVIII could be one of the most competitive Super Bowls of all time, it's only fitting.
Along with a full listing of expert Super Bowl predictions, here is a closer look at some of the most intriguing picks.
Date: Sunday, Feb. 2
Where: MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Start Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
TV Info: Fox
Live Stream: FoxSports.com
Spread (Bovada): Denver -3
|Pete Prisco||CBS Sports||DEN|
|Jason La Canfora||CBS Sports||SEA|
|Will Brinson||CBS Sports||DEN|
|Josh Katzowitz||CBS Sports||DEN|
|Ryan Wilson||CBS Sports||SEA|
|John Breech||CBS Sports||SEA|
|Dave Richard||CBS Sports||SEA|
|Jamey Eisenberg||CBS Sports||DEN|
|Andrew Abramson||Palm Beach Post||DEN|
|Tom D'Angelo||Palm Beach Post||SEA|
|Hal Habib||Palm Beach Post||DEN|
|Greg Stoda||Palm Beach Post||SEA|
|Dave Tepps||Palm Beach Post||SEA|
|Evan Cohen||ESPN 106.3||SEA|
|Tom Pelissero||USA TODAY||SEA|
John Clayton (ESPN)
ESPN's John Clayton is viewed by most football fans as one of the foremost NFL authorities out there, so people tend to listen when he talks. Clayton wrote a comprehensive article about Super Bowl XLVIII and ultimately made a pick as well.
Although Clayton had some good things to say about quarterback Peyton Manning and the Broncos, he decided that the Seahawks are the deeper and better overall team, which will allow them to rise above Denver's explosive offense:
The Seahawks have arguably been the best team in football all season and I think they can do enough to win the Super Bowl. They can't afford to get into a high-scoring game because they don't have the offense to stay with Manning. But they have the ability-- particularly in the cold and snow-- to slow down Manning.
Like many analysts, Clayton seems to think that a cold-weather Super Bowl favors Seattle heavily due to its strong defense as well as its power running game behind Marshawn Lynch.
At the same time, Denver is used to playing in cold weather too, so that "advantage" may be a bit overstated. If the Super Bowl turns into a run-and-stop-the-run type of contest, though, there is little doubt that it plays into Seattle's hands.
Most would probably agree that Manning is the best overall player in this game since he's a future Hall of Famer and arguably the greatest quarterback of all time; however, Clayton thinks that the Seahawks' all-around team effort will reign supreme.
Andrew Abramson (Palm Beach Post)
While Clayton feels that Seattle having the better overall team will lead to a Super Bowl victory, Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post believes that Denver's dominance in one particular area will be enough to come out on top.
Abramson acknowledges that Denver's defense could be an issue in the Super Bowl but still doesn't expect the Seahawks to score at a clip rivaling what the loaded Denver offense can do:
The Broncos’ weakness is pass defense-- they ranked just 19th in the NFL this season against the pass. So the Seahawks can win if Russell Wilson can air it out. But the Broncos have so many weapons on offense and Manning-- despite his struggles in the past in cold-weather games-- should be able to win his second Super Bowl title.
There are so many little battles that will decide this game in the end, but the one Abramson specifically pointed out is Manning against Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman. Manning had the most prolific passing season ever in 2013 as he broke the passing yardage and touchdown marks, but Sherman spearheads Seattle's No. 1 pass defense.
Something has to give in this contest, and Abramson likes Manning's chances of solving the Seattle secondary. He still expects it to be a close game that could come down to the wire, though, as he gives the Broncos a 28-24 edge.
Tom Pelissero (USA Today)
It isn't often that two of the best teams entering the season end up playing against each other in the Super Bowl, but that is the case when it comes to the Broncos and Seahawks.
Denver entered 2013 as the Super Bowl favorite, but Seattle wasn't far behind. That prompted many to predict that they would meet in the Super Bowl, and Tom Pelissero of USA Today was one of the lucky prognosticators who called it correctly.
Pelissero picked Seattle to upend Denver in the big game before the season even started, and he has decided to stick with that selection.
Who will win Super Bowl XLVIII?
It's tough to argue with Pelissero's choice since he had the foresight to pick this matchup in the first place. Also, it isn't as if either team is significantly different than it was expected to be ahead of the 2013 season.
Most figured that Denver would be an offensive juggernaut behind Manning and a host of weapons that includes Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas, while it was already well-established that Seattle had one of the NFL's top defenses.
It has often been said that defense wins championships, and Pelissero clearly subscribes to that theory as well.
Manning might have something to say about that when push comes to shove, but Pelissero likes the Seahawks defense to step up and rise to the occasion.
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