When the Seattle Seahawks (13-3) square off against the Denver Broncos (13-3) in the 2014 Super Bowl, the battle between the two best teams in the NFL will be the focus of the entire sports world.
Seattle boasts the No. 1 defense in the league this season, but will be forced to go head-to-head with Peyton Manning and one of the most dynamic offensive units in the history of football.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted about the rarity of such a scenario:
Here is all the vital viewing information for Super Bowl XLVIII and a full preview.
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
When: Sunday, Feb. 2
Kickoff Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Spread: Denver -3, via Bovada.lv
|Predictions for 2014 Super Bowl|
|Super Bowl MVP||Peyton Manning|
|Best Offensive Performance||Marshawn Lynch|
|Best Defensive Performance||Terrance Knighton|
|Worst Offensive Performance||Russell Wilson|
|Worst Defensive Performance||Richard Sherman|
|Surprise Standout||Wes Welker|
Preview and Prediction
The Seahawks have been one of the most feared teams in the league this year, but the Broncos are a talented franchise that will not be afraid to get physical. As seen from the hard-hitting atmosphere in both conference championships, this year’s Super Bowl is going to get chippy.
The first matchup everyone looks at is Manning and Denver’s No. 1 offensive unit going to battle against Seattle’s vaunted secondary. With the Seahawks allowing only 172 yards passing per game during the regular season and Manning throwing for 342.3 yards per game, something must give.
Richard Sherman is squarely in the spotlight for his vocal and bold postgame rant following the NFC Championship Game. It's true he's arguably the top cover corner in the NFL; however, with the added pressure he's put on himself leading up to the biggest game of his career, and the fact he's matching up against a future Hall of Famer, Sherman is due for a letdown performance.
Manning will have studied for Sherman and prepared for this secondary, and he won't let the outspoken corner affect the outcome. Look for "The Sheriff" to find the holes on defense and not force the issue throughout the game. When he does take advantage of an opportunity Sherman's way, it will only create more attention on Sherman and make his lack of execution on that occasion more significant and apparent.
Add in a talented group of offensive stars that will surround Manning like wide receiver Wes Welker—not to mention Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and tight end Julius Thomas—and there will be ample opportunities for players to get open.
The Broncos will go to the elusive and shifty Welker early and often.
While all eyes are on the battle between Seattle’s defense and the Broncos offense, the game could be won or lost in the trenches on the other side of the ball. The Seahawks boast a steady rushing attack, but Denver’s front seven led by tackle Terrance Knighton has stiffened up during the postseason.
The Broncos held the Chargers to just 65 yards rushing and the Patriots to 64 yards.
Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch is not afraid of a challenge after attacking the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Conference Championship, and Denver has yet to face a runner as brutal at the point of impact as Lynch.
With 249 yards on 50 attempts through two postseason games, Lynch is a workhorse for the Seahawks and he will be once again against the Broncos in the Super Bowl.
If Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers offense were able to put up 17 points on Seattle, though, there is no question that Manning will be able to rack up even more points and put pressure on the challenger's pass offense.
The real question will be if the Seahawks can keep up with the torrid pace of Denver.
Seattle must feed the ball to Lynch early and often to control the clock, and the veteran running back must find the gaps to keep drives alive or the offense will falter and ultimately fail.
Manning and the Broncos are the favorites for a reason, and the constant offensive pressure will have the Seahawks in unfamiliar territory.
As well as Seattle played this season, Denver is just too good to lose this game.
Predicted Final Score: Denver 31, Seattle 24
*Stats via NFL.com.