Super Bowl Predictions 2014: Who Wins Top Matchups?

Dilan Ames@@DilanAmesNFLCorrespondent IJanuary 22, 2014

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) shakes hands with Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, left, after the Seahawks beat the Broncos 40-10, in preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
John Froschauer/Associated Press

The Seattle Seahawks will take on the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII in a game rich with exciting matchups. This game will feature the league's best offense versus its best defense, and sparks are sure to fly.

The Seahawks are a top defensive team but some people wonder if a youngster like QB Russell Wilson will be able to hold up under the pressure of winning a championship while also dealing with the talented front seven of Denver.

Another matchup that will be fun to watch is the beefy defensive line of Denver against the relentless defensive line of Seattle. Both units have done a great job of producing for their team since the playoffs started, and will meet in what could prove to be the most exciting Super Bowl of the decade.

Marshawn Lynch vs. Denver's defensive line

Although the Seahawks are certainly competent in the passing game, it's the running game of theirs that fuels the entire offense. The face of their rushing attack, Marshawn Lynch, is just the man to wear down the defensive line of the Broncos.

He will need to be fed around 20-25 carries in this game in order to soften up and tire the Denver defense.

H/t B/R's Tyler Brooke

Once Lynch gets going on the ground, it will open up things for Wilson and the aerial attack of Seattle. While all this sounds good in theory, the reality is that Denver's defensive line has been on a roll heading into this game.

They played masterfully last week against the New England Patriots and were led by veteran defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, who had a sack and two tackles for loss.

Lynch has also been impressive in the playoffs and has quite a stat line to show for it. In his last two games, he has 50 carries for 249 yards and three touchdowns—and both games were against defenses ranked in the top five.

Denver will have their hands full with Lynch, and he could be the biggest difference maker in this game for Seattle. 

Prediction: Lynch is going to have a good game, although the Broncos won't make it easy for him. Lynch wins this one.

Richard Sherman vs. Demaryius Thomas

Demaryius Thomas is coming off of a huge game against the New England Patriots and has been a steady factor in the Broncos' offense all season long. The Pro Bowler will be facing his biggest test of the season when the Broncos and Seahawks take the field as he will be matched up with star corner Richard Sherman.

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 17:  Cornerback Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks tackles wide receiver Demaryius Thomas #88 of the Denver Broncos at CenturyLink Field on August 17, 2013 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The two are pretty evenly matched when it comes to size and both are playmakers on their respective sides of the ball. Both players often times use their size to their advantage, but that will be cancelled out in this matchup.

Thomas has done a good job of gaining Peyton Manning's trust over the past couple seasons, so Manning will likely be looking for him on a lot of plays, regardless of whether Sherman covering him or not. It's a top receiver versus a top corner and it will be an interesting matchup to watch.

Prediction: Sherman made a statement with his play against the talented receiving corps of the 49ers last week and he will be at his best on Super Bowl Sunday. 


Seattle's Defensive Line vs. Denver's Offensive Line

Seattle's pass rush is rarely rivaled and is one of the best in terms of getting to the quarterback. They will be facing a gritty Denver offensive line that has played very well as of late, even though they are without All-Pro tackle Ryan Clady.

Denver Broncos Offensive Line stats (league ranking)
Rushing TDsSacks allowedQB hits
16 (8th)20 (1st)54 (3rd)
Pro Football Reference

The Broncos have done a stellar job of protecting Manning during the playoffs as he has seldom taken hits from opposing defenses. Denver's line will have their hands full against Seattle and may not be able to hold strong for another game.

They will likely seek some help in pass protection from their running backs for safe measure, but that just may not be enough.

Prediction: Manning's going to get hit—that's a definite—but it will not be an absolute destruction of one line by the other. Expect hurries, rather than sacks and hits on the quarterback.

Broncos Front Seven vs. Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson often gets a lot of praise, but, over the past month or so, hasn't been the dynamic player we've come accustomed to seeing. Wilson has just five touchdowns and three interceptions in his last six games, and just hasn't been as effective as he was earlier in the season.

Conversely, the Broncos' front seven has been playing tremendously well even with the loss of Von Miller.

It will not be easy for Wilson to get into a rhythm and that could spoil Seattle's offensive game plan. Sure, they will get a boost from Lynch in the running game, but there will come a point where Wilson will have to use his arm and that will be when the cracks start to show.

Prediction: For being just a sophomore in the NFL, Wilson has put together a couple of great seasons, but his NFL growing pains look to be catching up to him. Advantage: Broncos.


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