The Super Bowl is always one of the biggest events of the year. The endless media coverage and prognostication serves as the drum roll that precedes the big game—and the game itself rarely disappoints. But how will it all unfold? After gazing intensely into my crystal ball, here’s how it will all play out.
This year’s Super Bowl promises to be exceptionally special: chock full of storylines, dramatic undertones and supremely talented athletes. Oftentimes, at least one of the participants is a team that got hot at the right time and wasn’t necessarily the “best” team all year (see: 2012 Baltimore Ravens, 2011 New York Giants, 2010 Green Bay Packers…you get the gist).
That’s not the case in 2014. The Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos have consistently been the two best teams in the league this season, and they’ll do battle to take home the game’s biggest prize.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the game, here is the crucial information you need to know.
When: Sunday Feb. 2 at 6:30 p.m. EST
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
Live Stream: www.FoxSports.com
Spread: DEN -2.5
Note: All betting information is courtesy of VegasInsider.com.
In many ways, this over/under line will dictate which way the game goes. If it’s over, the game starts to favor the Denver Broncos and their high-powered offense, since it will be more challenging for the Seahawks to put points on the board.
On the contrary, Seattle will be thrilled if it can keep the overall score under 47, since that plays to the Seahawks’ strengths: the ground game, defense and time of possession.
Not only are these teams the two best teams in all the land, but they also employ startlingly different philosophies. This game is about more than just team versus team. It's about which style of football wins championships.
One thing that should play into the Seahawks' hands is the weather. The weather forecast for the Super Bowl is changing everyday, but one thing is clear: It’s going to be cold.
The mixture of inclement weather and the Seattle defense will pose problems for the Broncos, and the scoring will be kept relatively low...at least under 47 points.
That’s right! There’s more hardware on the line than just the Lombardi Trophy. Obviously, it’s very unlikely that the Super Bowl MVP won’t be holding on to both trophies, so the biggest factor in determining the MVP will be which team wins the game.
Football is a team game, but this Super Bowl (and this entire season) is about Peyton Manning. He’s been absolutely phenomenal leading the greatest offense in NFL history (by the numbers at least, since it’s tough to compare across generations).
|Record-Setting Denver Broncos|
|Players with 10+ TDs||5|
|Passing First Downs||293|
|Four-TD Passing Games||9|
One of the prop bets for the game should be the over/under on the number of times the word “legacy” is used on the broadcast, because a big chunk of Manning’s place in history will depend on this game.
He is already the greatest regular-season quarterback of all time, but his lack of postseason success is a roadblock to him being the clear-cut greatest of all time. A second Super Bowl would go a long way toward silencing the critics that label him as "not clutch" and unable to deliver in the biggest moments.
If the Broncos win, it’s almost certain that Manning will be the biggest factor and will carry home Super Bowl MVP honors.
Russell Wilson may get all the publicity as the face of the Seahawks’ franchise, but Marshawn Lynch is the man who makes the whole machine work. His bruising running style allows Wilson to not take too many risks and gives his defense the benefit of field position and rest on the sidelines.
Lynch is going to be a focal point of the Seattle offense, as he was all season—only LeSean McCoy had more carries than Lynch. Toss in the fact that he has the potential to use the power of Skittles to unleash “Beast Mode” at any time, and he’s the front-runner to be named MVP if the Seahawks win.
Wilson hasn’t been playing tremendous football lately, but he may need to throw the ball more than he’s used to considering the offensive proficiency of his counterpart.
The Wisconsin quarterback is an unlikely MVP, but he’s capable of putting up numbers and making spectacular plays. If he does enough to carry the Seahawks to a championship, he could be the MVP.
Even if the Seahawks win, it’s very possible that they do so without any eye-popping stat lines from any of their offensive players and relying on the might of their defense.
That’s where Earl Thomas factors into the MVP conversation.
To be clear, it doesn’t have to be Earl Thomas, and any defensive player that wins will have to make a game-changing play (like Richard Sherman’s game-saving pass breakup in the NFC Championship Game).
But Earl Thomas stands as good a chance as any player of becoming the first defender to win the Super Bowl MVP in 10 years.
Regardless of how you view Sherman’s outburst, there was at least some truth in what he was saying. He’s the best cornerback in the game (if not outright, then sharing that honor with Darrelle Revis), and it would be unwise for Manning to target Sherman too much.
That decreases his chances of making plays. Thomas, on the other hand, will be the rover with Kam Chancellor likely drawing the assignment of Julius Thomas. With excellent coverage and a dangerous pass rush, the Seahawks defense can force Manning to make mistakes, and Thomas will be the one capitalizing on those errors and making the plays.
This is it—the moneymaker. All the rest of the storylines and pageantry build up to the point of one team taking home the trophy. Which team will it be?
The Broncos are a devastating offensive force, but the Seahawks are the team to stop them if there ever were one. Taking the weather conditions into account, it would seem as though the environment favored the Seahawks and their smashmouth style.
On the other hand, there’s that whole “team of destiny” thing going on with Denver—specifically Peyton Manning. It’s not rooted in fact, but Manning has been a man possessed this year, and there have been no signs of him slowing down.
At the end of the day, the Seahawks match up well with the Broncos and will come out on top in a close battle.
Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 24, Denver Broncos 21
Super Bowl MVP: Russell Wilson