The Denver Broncos are considered slight favorites over the Seattle Seahawks for Super Bowl XLVIII as of Wednesday, Jan. 22, but odds are that the spread will shift before kickoff on Sunday, Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium.
An innate advantage with regard to the rules could be why the Broncos have an edge with their No. 1 offense encountering the best defense in the NFL, in the Seahawks, in terms of points and total yards allowed.
However, if the weather in East Rutherford, N.J. is cold and arduous, as is very possible, perhaps Seattle will gain the upper hand in oddsmakers' eyes.
Here is a look at the spread and other information as it currently stands, including an early prediction as to who will emerge with the Lombardi Trophy.
Note: Odds information is courtesy of Bovada.
When: Sunday, Feb. 2 at 6:25 p.m. ET
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Live Stream: FoxSports.com
Spread: Broncos (-3)
Moneyline: Seattle (+115), Denver (-135)
Odds Analysis and Predicted Winner of Super Bowl XLVIII
As mentioned before, the spread gives the Broncos a slim edge with three points. That projected point total of 47 should be rather accurate given how the game is likely to play out.
Seattle has among the best personnel possible to match up with Denver's high-powered offense: A deep defensive line filled with big and fast men who can pressure the quarterback, a solid linebacker corps and the NFL's best secondary.
On the other hand, running back Marshawn Lynch is the foundation of the Seahawks' run-first offense that lacks a lot of playmakers on the outside. That often leaves quarterback Russell Wilson having to improvise and make plays with his feet.
Lynch's style of running holds up better in the cold than the waning arm strength of 37-year-old Broncos QB Peyton Manning. If Mother Nature unleashes a fury of flurries at MetLife Stadium, the impact on Denver could be detrimental.
Massive defensive tackle Terrance Knighton will be a load for Seattle to handle up front, but Seahawks All-Pro center Max Unger is the perfect man to combat the disruptive force on the interior.
Denver linebacker Danny Trevathan is ready for the challenge, per Seahawks.com's Clare Farnsworth:
"We’ve got to be prepared for this," said Trevathan. "This is a powerhouse. Their defense is live, their offense is live. They can get going anytime. We’ve got to prepare for everything. It’s going to be a good Super Bowl.”
Even if the weather is difficult for a pass-happy offense to thrive, the Broncos have too many weapons not to put at least some points on the board.
Even if Seattle jumps out to a lead, Manning will have no choice but to throw, which will open up plays eventually for talented pass-catchers such as Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas.
That's something Manning hinted toward in discussing what happened in the 26-16 win over New England in the AFC Championship Game, per NFL.com's Judy Battista:
New England has a physical secondary. If you're running all straight and vertical down the field -- you know, intermediate routes -- that's tough. That's what we learned and that's what some of our notes were coming out of the first time we played them. I think they do a great job of taking away your key receiver. With us, we've spread the ball around so well all season, it's hard to know who really to key on. On any given play, one of five guys could get the ball. I think that puts pressure on a defense.
But this isn't the Patriots' defense, which was absent their top corner in Aqib Talib for much of the conference title clash.
The problem is that Denver will have a difficult time stretching the field vertically because of the presence of Seahawks All-Pro safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. Both have incredible athleticism and range, and Thomas isn't as easy for Manning to manipulate with his eyes as just about any other free safety in the league.
Speed and quickness is Seattle's strength in the front seven, so it wouldn't be surprising to see a lot of two-deep coverage looks, combined with exotic pressures by defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in his hybrid multiple-front schemes.
All of these factors point to the Seahawks establishing the run early, jumping routes on Manning's short passes and racing out to a lead, only to see "The Sheriff" work some magic and make it a thrilling finish.
In the end, defense will win Seattle its first championship in franchise history as a Manning-led rally falls short—pushing the point total just past "over" in the process.
Prediction: Seahawks 27, Broncos 24