However, the Seahawks aren't the only defense who will have their hands full on February 2. In fact, the Denver defense may face an even taller task.
Not only must it stop bruising tailback Marshawn Lynch, but the Broncos must also reel in a Seattle receiving corps getting healthy at the perfect time.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for the Broncos.
That concussion sidelined Harvin for last week's win in the NFC Championship Game, but Kevin Patra of NFL.com reports the 25-year-old has been cleared through the NFL's concussion protocol and is on track to play against the Broncos.
Harvin told Tom Pelissero of USA Today his surgically repaired hip is also well:
Harvin says his hip is feeling "pretty good." Got the hip "tuned up" yesterday. Doesn't think #Saints were targeting him.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 23, 2014
None of this is good news for a Broncos pass defense that's been something of a sore spot all season long.
While the Seahawks thrived against the pass the season, the Broncos struggled. Yes, the numbers are somewhat inflated by Peyton Manning-fueled shootouts, but the fact remains that only five teams in the NFL allowed more passing yards per game in 2013.
Injuries have been a big problem this year. Free-agent acquisition Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has played well in coverage this year, but mainstay Champ Bailey has been in and out of the lineup. Even worse, no one stepped into the gap after Bailey went down.
|Player||Overall Rank||Coverage Rank|
Per Pro Football Focus
The patchwork has shown at times, and now the Broncos have been dealt an even more severe blow.
Cornerback Chris Harris, who may have been Denver's most consistent defensive back this season, tore his ACL in the divisional round. Harris wasn't missed in Denver's big win over New England, but his absence still casts a shadow over an already shaky secondary.
It's a problem with Harvin set to return.
Assuming Harvin is anywhere close to 100 percent, he joins Golden Tate and NFC title game hero Doug Baldwin as a trio of receivers who are all dangerous vertically and in the open field.
How many receiving yards will Percy Harvin have in Super Bowl XLVIII
It's not as if the Denver corners can count on a lot of help from the safeties either. None of the Denver safeties ranked inside the top 30 at the position this season at Pro Football Focus (subscription required), and there's been turnover at both spots all season long.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson makes his hay by buying time with his legs, waiting for a receiver to find a hole in the coverage down the field, and now Harvin is returning just in time to exploit this hole in the Denver defense.
Granted, none of this is certain. Harvin has barely seen the field in 2013. The Seattle offensive line (which has struggled a bit of late) needs to buy Wilson time. Wilson needs to deliver the football on target.
Weird things happen sometimes in Super Bowls. Players come from nowhere to steal the show.
This is a matchup that plays well into Percy Harvin's chances of doing just that, and while we can't say he came from nowhere...
It sure feels like a long time since we've seen him.