Oddsmakers aren't sold on either Super Bowl team, as the spread is set at just 2.5 points in favor of the Denver Broncos over the Seattle Seahawks, via Vegas Insiders.
But it's not surprising, given the way both teams finished with identical 13-3 regular-season records, along with these facts, courtesy of 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
Both teams proved superior at home to their challengers, but it remains to be seen how they'll fare against one another at a neutral site.
Speaking of which, MetLife Stadium, which will host this year's festivities, could prove to have a say in the matter. The cold-weather location could see snow for the big game. According to AccuWeather, there's a 30 percent chance of snow showers, and temperatures are projected to be in the mid-20s to mid-30s.
Here's a look at when and where you can catch the game, along with updated betting information:
Date: Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Start Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Betting Info: (via Vegas Insider)
- Over/Under: 48 points
- Spread: Denver (-2.5)
- Money Line: Seattle (-115); Denver (-105)
Will Richard Sherman and the "Legion of Boom" Shut Down Manning's Passing Attack?
It's fitting that the two biggest stories of Super Bowl XLVIII fit so neatly into the actual game narrative.
Peyton Manning's legacy and Richard Sherman's mouth have been discussed ad nauseam leading up to the big game. In line with those storylines, the game will be decided based on whether or not Manning can engineer a quality passing game against Seattle's "Legion of Boom" secondary—which Sherman leads with his outstanding play.
Rather than get drawn into any controversy regarding Sherman's postgame comments after the NFC Championship, head coach John Fox smartly discussed his team's upcoming challenge.
"I know he's [Sherman] a terrific player, a great cover guy," Fox said, as noted by Irv Moss of The Denver Post. "I know the Seahawks are statistically very good on defense and in particular pass defense. I'm sure their secondary has a lot to do with that."
B/R's Eric Mack calls Seattle's secondary "the best in the league" but believes Manning will come out on top against it:
Manning is an all-timer amid the greatest season in quarterbacking history. Yes, the Seahawks cornerbacks and safeties are younger and more physically gifted than Manning at this stage of their respective careers, but you cannot quantify the impact on the game Manning's experience and mind have.
We have to give the edge to Manning. The intangibles put him over the top.
Seattle allowed just 172 passing yards per game during the regular season and just 16 total passing touchdowns. At the same time, the Seahawks racked up 44 sacks and 28 interceptions, and quarterbacks suffered a dismal passer rating of 63.4.
During the postseason against New Orleans and San Francisco, the Seahawks held Drew Brees and Colin Kaepernick to just two passing touchdowns, forced two interceptions and allowed just 32 total points.
Manning and his receivers will need to be razor sharp in order to come out ahead on the scoreboard against Sherman's Seahawks.
Denver's defense has been surprisingly strong up front against the run the past two postseason games (129 total yards allowed), and the Broncos allowed just 33 points to the New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers combined.
However, the Broncos haven't faced Marshawn Lynch, who destroyed New Orleans and San Francisco's defenses to the tune of 249 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Percy Harvin is expected to play for Seattle, as reported by Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports, after sitting out the NFC Championship Game with a concussion. He's the biggest wild card of Super Bowl XLVIII, and if he can stay in the game and produce, then Seattle's offense will be tough to stop.
Which team will win?
Seattle's defense hasn't given up more than 20 points since Week 9 of the regular season. Pete Carroll's team is absolutely loaded with talent across the board, and it enters Super Bowl week as healthy as it's been all year long.
Manning and the Broncos won't go down without a fight, but in the end the Seahawks will find a way to get the win and finally bring home a Lombardi Trophy to the Pacific Northwest.
Seahawks win 23-21
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