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Seahawks vs. Broncos Predictions: Projecting Super Bowl Score vs. Betting Lines

FILE PHOTO - EDITORS NOTE: COMPOSITE OF TWO IMAGES - Image Numbers 450301691 (L) and 185451754 ) (Full editorial rights UK, US, Ireland, Australia, NZ, Canada (not Quebec). Restricted editorial rights for daily newspapers elsewhere, please call. )   In this composite image a comparison has been made between Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks (L) and Head coach John Fox of the Denver Broncos. The Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos will compete at the Super Bowl XLVIII  on February 2, 2014 at the MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey. ***LEFT IMAGE*** SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 17: Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks looks on during the game against the Minnesota Vikings at CenturyLink Field on November 17, 2013 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Vikings 41-20. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) ***RIGHT IMAGE*** INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 20: John Fox the head coach of the Denver Broncos gives instructions to his team during the game against the Indianapolis Colt
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Tim KeeneyContributor IFebruary 2, 2014

You'd be hard-pressed to dream up a more intriguing 2014 Super Bowl matchup than the Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos. 

While the conference championships produced battles between teams that, in many ways, were mirror images of each other, Super Bowl XLVIII gives fans polar opposites.

On one side, a future Hall of Fame quarterback leading a record-breaking offense. On the other, a burgeoning superstar quarterback in his second year who makes just enough big plays to let his physical, elite defense do the rest.

Conversely, and far less publicized, this matchup also gives us a highly underrated defensive unit vs. an offense that, albeit mostly conservative, can be explosive at times. 

Here's a look at everything you need to know, as well as final betting predictions before kickoff. 

 

Date: Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014

Start Time: 6:30 p.m. ET

Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

TV: Fox

Live Stream: Fox Sports Go

Spread: Denver (-2.5), via Vegas Insider

Over/Under: 48, via Vegas Insider

 

The Picks: Seahawks and Under

Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

It's one of the most overused cliches in sports, but on Sunday night, it will hold true: Defense wins championships. 

And from a statistical perspective, according to ESPN Stats & Info, the Seahawks boast the best defense since the 1985 Chicago Bears, a squad that is highly regarded as one of the best teams of all time:

Of course, you don't really need numbers to tell you just how imposing Pete Carroll and Dan Quinn's defense is. As soon as you see Richard Sherman lock down a third of the field, Earl Thomas missile across the entire length of the field to take down a ball-carrier, or Kam Chancellor lay a devastating hit (sorry, Vernon Davis), you start to grasp the talent behind the defense. 

GIF courtesy of Bleacher Report

Having a slew of capable pass-rushers and a run-stuffing middle linebacker like Bobby Wagner tends to help, too. 

But it wouldn't be one of the most compelling Super Bowl matchups ever without a worthy adversary on the other side of the ball. And that's exactly what the Seahawks will get with Peyton Manning—the most intelligent QB in the league—and his quartet of dangerous pass-catchers. 

Not only do the Broncos bring the league's most prolific offense to the table, but they also know what to expect with Seattle's defense, and they will be prepared. 

“I’m watching their entire secondary,” wide receiver Eric Decker said, via DenverBroncos.com's Mike Morris. “I think, all-around, they obviously have the best defense in the NFL. And they get after the opponents. Up front, very aggressive – in the back end, they make plays.”

When Denver has the ball, it will come down to tackling in space. 

Demaryius Thomas was second in the NFL in yards after catch and is capable of taking it to the house every time he touches the ball with just the tiniest dollop of space, but Wes Welker and Julius Thomas are also adept at finding openings in the defense and taking advantage. 

Shutting down this offense completely will be out of the question, but Seattle's physicality and speed to the ball—especially from the safety positionmakes it the best team in the NFL at ending plays after the catch, per ESPN Stats & Info:

And as Tim Booth of the Associated Press pointed out, the 'Hawks turned in their best performance of the season in that category at the most integral time:

Giving Seattle points makes it an even more attractive bet, but the 'Hawks' defense will do just enough to stymie Denver's offense and squeeze out a tight, low-scoring win: 23-20. 

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