Marshawn Lynch is known to go into Beast Mode in the playoffs.
Look no further than this absolutely outstanding run in the playoffs against the New Orleans Saints in 2011:
That's just what Lynch does. He's historically great in the postseason, as the ESPN on NFL Twitter account notes:
Marshawn Lynch has 4 rushing touchdowns of more than 25 yards in the postseason, twice as much as anyone else in NFL HISTORY #BeastMode— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 23, 2014
On the season, Lynch rushed for 1,257 yards and 12 touchdowns. Against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, he rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown.
He is absolutely critical to the success of the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. If Lynch does not have a good game, the Seahawks will have to rely on the 26th-ranked aerial attack. Russell Wilson is good, but he's not going to win a game by himself.
So it's up to Lynch to carry the rock 30-plus times, score a few touchdowns and eat the clock so that Peyton Manning doesn't get the ball too much.
Sounds good, right?
Not so fast.
The Denver Broncos actually have a fantastic run defense, led by Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton and linebacker Danny Travathan, whom Peter King of the MMQB raved about:
Knighton and linebacker Danny Travathan were Denver’s best defensive players against New England in a game that was not nearly as close as the 26-16 final indicated. Travathan’s speed behind a gap-proof defensive front helped wreck the Patriots passing game. He made an amazing play to ruin a New England drive in the second quarter with the Pats trying to narrow a 10-0 deficit, covering fullback James Develin out of the backfield on a route up the right side, then sprinting back as Julian Edelman caught a short cross, cutting his legs out after just a two-yard gain. He was around the ball all game.
I can see Travathan in the film room today, studying Percy Harvin and Marshawn Lynch (Harvin certainly last season in Minnesota too, because of his limited play this year) and figuring out how to make plays around the line of scrimmage against one very speedy player and one very strong one. Travathan has shown all year long he can play both speed and power with equal skill.
In the regular season, the Broncos gave up an average of 101.6 yards per game, tied for seventh-best in the league.
They held LeGarrette Blount, who rushed for four touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts, to just six yards on five carries in the AFC Championship Game. The New England Patriots as a team rushed for just 64 yards.
But the Broncos can be run against. Jamaal Charles of the Kansas Chiefs rushed for 93 yards in an early-December matchup, and Ryan Mathews rushed for 127 yards in a San Diego Chargers win. So it's not impossible.
But the Broncos are really going to load up on Lynch. They want to force Wilson to beat them. And that's what they should do. Wilson has never been asked to do that much—the 'Hawks have always relied on their run game and defense. He had 257 pass attempts in the regular season. Peyton Manning, in contrast, had 659 pass attempts.
Is Marshawn Lynch Going to Hit Beast Mode?
So you can bet that the Broncos will load up the box, hoping Percy Harvin is rusty and Wilson doesn't go off.
It's not a bad strategy given how good Lynch is. The last thing the Broncos want is for Lynch and the 'Hawks to really eat up the clock.
But here's the thing about Lynch: You can put eight or nine guys in the box, and he'll still find a way. He's so bruising, so physical, so punishing that it doesn't matter what's in front of him. Odds are he'll just run through it.
That's why I like the Seahawks in this matchup, because I think Lynch will reach Beast Mode. Skittles will be flying from the New Jersey sky, because he is going to reach the end zone more than once.
Lynch is the type of running back who is born for the big stage, and there's none bigger than the Super Bowl. Despite their best efforts, I just can't see the Broncos stopping him. He's a much better running back than Blount.
Look for Lynch to have a huge game as the Seahawks ride him to victory.