With the Legion of Boom set to take center stage at Super Bowl XLVIII, Sunday's championship showdown between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos is poised to feature plenty of defense.
However, there will be no shortage of offensive star power either as Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson headline the handful of playmakers set to dazzle inside MetLife Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday.
Here I'll highlight a trio of offensive stars sure to shine in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Date: Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014
Start Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Spread: Denver (-2.5) over Seattle, according to Vegas Insider
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks
Marshawn Lynch has been in "Beast Mode" all postseason long and is sure to turn in another impressive performance in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Lynch is averaging five yards per carry through two playoff games and has racked up 249 yards over that time to lead all postseason rushers. His three touchdowns in these playoffs are second only to New England's LeGarrette Blount, who ripped off all four of his scores against the Indianapolis Colts in the divisional round.
While Denver's rush defense has been no joke during the playoffs, it has yet to face off against a prolific running back like Lynch. San Diego only ran the ball 18 times in the divisional round (including three attemps from quarterback Philip Rivers) while New England was forced to abandon the run in the AFC Championship Game, attempting just 16 rushes for the entire game.
Meanwhile, Lynch is averaging 25 carries per game this postseason. Assuming Seattle's defense can keep Denver's offense off the board, you can expect a heavy dose of Marshawn Lynch.
Predicted stat line: 25 carries, 115 yards, one touchdown
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos
Although it's hard to imagine any Broncos receivers having success against Seattle's Legion of Boom, Demaryius Thomas has the best chance to succeed.
At 6'3" and 229 pounds, Thomas boasts the size and strength to challenge Seattle's physical corners and safeties. While Thomas is unlikely to explode for another 134-yard effort against the Seahawks, he's sure to be targeted plenty throughout.
After all, only four other receivers have been targeted more than Thomas this postseason, and none of them is still alive. Thomas also leads all remaining wide receivers with two touchdowns.
The NFL Network's Jeff Darlington highlights Thomas' postseason brilliance:
I love seeing Demaryius Thomas turn into a star. In five postseason games, he's averaging 104.4 yards per game with four touchdowns. Clutch.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) January 20, 2014
Despite the fact that Seattle's defense rarely gives up big plays, it will have its hands full with Denver's array of weapons, highlighted by Thomas on the outside.
Predicted stat line: seven receptions, 110 yards, one touchdown
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks
Seattle's passing attack has been nothing to write home about this season, but Denver's vulnerable secondary will provide the Seahawks with several big-play opportunities.
Although Golden Tate has been targeted more often by quarterback Russell Wilson this postseason, Doug Baldwin is poised to make more noise in the Super Bowl as he's demonstrated big-play ability throughout these playoffs.
Not only does Baldwin lead all Seahawks receivers in receptions and yards this postseason, but he also leads the team with three plays of 20 or more yards. Among the receivers still left in the playoffs, only Demaryius Thomas has more.
But Baldwin isn't ready to analyze his postseason run just yet, per Seahawks.com's Clare Farnsworth:
I guess it’s a good story. But at the same time, I’m focused on what’s next. I’ll sit back and relax and review all that stuff when I retire from the game of football.
Right now, I’m focused on what’s next.
Therefore, you can expect another impressive outing from Baldwin on Super Bowl Sunday. After all, he recorded 106 yards against San Francisco and will be facing off against a more susceptible secondary this time around.
Predicted stat line: five receptions, 80 yards, one touchdown
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