Super Bowl 2014: Unheralded Players for Both Teams Who Will Make Big Impact

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 26, 2014

Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas (80) runs toward Denver Broncos free safety Rahim Moore (26) during the second half of the AFC Championship NFL playoff football game in Denver, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Football is filled with players making big impacts who you didn't expect, and Super Bowl XLVIII will be no exception.

Players buried down on the depth chart or just less talked about will emerge to be big playmakers, and guys who didn't receive nearly enough attention in the madness leading up to Sunday will end up leaving a lasting impact. 

Players like Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman will dominate water-cooler talk surrounding the big game, but you can't overlook the guys listed below who are going to emerge as big-time contributors for their team.

Here are the best bets for less talked-about players who will have big games on Super Bowl Sunday. 


Danny Trevathan, LB, Denver Broncos

Stephan Savoia/Associated Press

He won't be talked about much, but Danny Trevathan might be the busiest Bronco on the field during the Super Bowl.

With Von Miller missing so much of the season—and suffering a season-ending injury—Trevathan has been the leading tackler for Denver this season, and by a sizable margin. He finished with 98 tackles, while the second-leading tackler had 62. 

If Denver is going to stuff Seattle's potent rushing attack, Trevathan will need to come up huge in the middle of the field. The Broncos thwarted New England's rushing attack in the AFC title game, but facing Marshawn Lynch will be a whole different obstacle.

With a big game, Trevathan could further boost Denver's resurgent defense and allow the unit to come up big in the most crucial moment of the postseason. 

Few expected Trevathan to hold such an integral role for Denver's defense this season, but he will need to be at his best on Super Bowl Sunday. 


Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks

Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Fans will closely follow Percy Harvin's status for the big game, and for good reason. But Seattle already has a formidable receiver to utilize similar to Harvin who is playing great as of late.

Doug Baldwin was the Seahawks' second-leading receiver, behind Golden Tate, with 778 yards and five touchdowns. But he has stepped up his play in the postseason.

The third-year product out of Stanford had six catches on seven targets for 105 yards in the NFC title game against the 49ers, proving to be a reliable target for Wilson each and every play. Whether it is in the middle of the field, on screen passes or in other creative ways, Seattle has utilized Baldwin very well on offense. 

So much of a defense's game plan against Seattle has to be centered around shutting down the run game and Marshawn Lynch. Denver's D will certainly be focusing on that first and foremost.

That means Baldwin could be in for another big game. If Denver sells out to stop the run, Baldwin will have more space available to make his usual drive-extending plays. 


Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

All talk heading into the Super Bowl is surrounding Seattle's ball-hawking secondary and how it will match up against Manning's receivers.

But don't forget about his favorite target at tight end.

Julius Thomas has been a huge factor for the Broncos in 2013 after coming seemingly out of nowhere. His 788 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season were big for Manning's historic season.

Manning has looked Thomas' way 18 times in two playoff games, which Thomas has turned into 14 catches for 161 yards. He was targeted 11 times against the Patriots and was huge as New England struggled to cover the Broncos wideouts.

Seattle's secondary is the NFL's best, but it will have its hands full against Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker on the outside. There's no answer in the middle of the field for Julius Thomas, who will have a big day as the Broncos chase another Super Bowl crown.