During the NFL regular season, unpredictability was the norm.
In the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, three of four lower seeds pulled off upsets.
The two teams that finished the season with the best records in their conferences will now face off in the Super Bowl. When the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks face off on football's biggest stage on Feb. 2, two teams on opposite ends of the spectrum will be pitted against each other.
The Broncos have the No. 1 offense in the NFL; the Seahawks feature the No. 1 defense.
The Broncos' Peyton Manning is nearing the twilight of a spectacular career after putting together the best statistical season of any quarterback in history. The Seahawks' Russell Wilson comes in at 27-9 in his career as a starting quarterback, but there are more questions about his consistency than skill coming into the Super Bowl.
Before the two teams square off in the final NFL game of the season, here are betting odds for the Super Bowl and a breakdown of how they will pan out.
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
When: Sunday, Feb. 2, at 6:25 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
|2014 Super Bowl Odds|
|Coin Flip||Heads (50), Tails (50)|
|Halftime Score||Broncos (-0.5)|
|Final Score||Broncos (-2.5)|
*Odds courtesy of Vegas Insider and Bovada.
Breaking Down the Odds
Though the Seahawks' defense has gotten much of the attention heading into the Super Bowl, both defenses are playing their best heading into the big showdown.
With the Seahawks coming in as the most dominant defense in the NFL this season, the Broncos have reduced their yards per game from 356 in the regular season to 289.5 throughout the playoffs. As for scoring, neither team has allowed more than 17 points during their two postseason games.
Manning comes into the Super Bowl after throwing for 55 touchdowns in the regular season, breaking the record for both passing yards and touchdowns in the process. On the other side, the Beast Mode aspect that Marshawn Lynch brings to the game could lead to huge points from either side.
With a defense that has proven itself throughout the playoffs, the Broncos could prove formidable for Lynch.
Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard spoke about the defense's role in helping the offense when the two teams face off, according to Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com:
We know people don't want to give Peyton the ball. We know that means they are going to come after us if they think they have a chance to make some yards. We always want to stop the run games because the more we get the ball back for Peyton and our offense, the better it will be.
Then there's the fact that Demaryius Thomas is averaging 104.4 yards a game with four total touchdowns in his five postseason games; Manning's favorite target alone could break open the game.
My prediction is that the Broncos will win by a final score of 31-23. Based off that, I would take the over of 48 points. With two defenses that have proven they can shut down great offenses in the playoffs, though, it could easily be a game in which neither team breaks 20 points.
Will the Seahawks defense prevail or will the Broncos defense make the biggest statement on Super Bowl Sunday?
Whichever side of the fence bettors stand on is the way they should go.
If Manning can get the passing game going against the likes of Thomas and Richard Sherman, the final point spread will likely look like an awful prediction, with Wilson and Lynch trying to keep up. After scoring 37.9 points per game to lead the league during the regular season, Manning has the receivers to spread the ball around against even the best secondary in the NFL.
With the Seahawks having the best defense in football this season, though, ESPN Stats & Info pointed out that history could be on their side.
With a matchup as unpredictable as the one in the Super Bowl, it's impossible to say which team will pull out the win.
Throughout the season, though, the Broncos flourished when they had close odds. In matchups where they were favored by five or fewer points, Denver went 3-1, with their only loss coming at the hands of the Patriots in the regular season.
For the Seahawks, the Super Bowl will mark just the second time they've been underdogs all season. That other game just so happened to mark their second loss of the season against the San Francisco 49ers. In games with a point spread of 3.5 or less, Seattle is 4-2 this season.
With both teams coming in as the best of their respective conferences and clearly the class of the NFL, it's no wonder the call is a difficult one. With Manning's repertoire and Seattle's defense, though, the deciding factor will come when the Broncos offense is on the field.
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