Super Bowl XLVIII Preview: Why Doug Baldwin Will Be the X-Factor

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Super Bowl XLVIII Preview: Why Doug Baldwin Will Be the X-Factor
Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Doug Baldwin is coming off his first 100-yard performance since Oct. 9, 2011. Baldwin’s 106-yard effort against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game came as a surprise to everyone, and it has Seattle fans hoping it wasn't just a fluke.

With the Seahawks offense struggling as of late, it is going to be key for Baldwin to be able to step up again come Super Bowl Sunday. Russell Wilson is not graced with the targets that his opponent, Peyton Manning, is lucky enough to have, which is exactly why Baldwin must step up.

Even with the return of Percy Harvin, Baldwin will be the most important Seattle receiver in the game. With all the uncertainty surrounding Percy Harvin, it is hard to know what kind of impact he will have.

The Seahawks will need to run the ball effectively to win this game, something they have become accustomed to this year. However, Denver’s run defense has been very good all season.

The Denver Broncos run defense has allowed just 129 rush yards combined in the playoffs thus far, and with them certain to focus on Marshawn Lynch, it is necessary for Seattle to get production in other ways on offense.

The Broncos are going to load the box and make sure Marshawn Lynch doesn't run wild on them. The key for Wilson and the Seahawks will be to show the Broncos they can move the ball through the air. This would force Denver to not only worry about Lynch, but also the passing game.

The more appealing matchup is going to be the high-powered Denver offense against the dominant Seattle defense, but the game will be won by Seattle's offense or Denver's defense.

Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

Baldwin showed what he can do in his performance over the 49ers and will look to follow up with a similar effort this week. If Wilson and Baldwin can connect as effectively as they did last week, Seattle will be in great shape for this game.

However, if Baldwin does not show up, the Seahawks will be in serious trouble. If Baldwin does not get involved in the offense, Seattle will struggle to move the ball outside of the production from Lynch.

Golden Tate, Zach Miller and Jermaine Kearse will be Wilson's other options alongside Baldwin and Harvin. Their lack of a star receiver makes it necessary for one of these players to out-perform expectations, just like Baldwin did in the championship game.

Baldwin has just two 100-yard games in his career, regular or postseason, but his confidence is going to be at an all-time high heading into the Super Bowl. It is going to be the biggest game of every single player on the Seahawks' lives, so the question is: Who will shine?

Another big outing from Doug Baldwin will spell doom for the Broncos and have Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks holding up the Lombardi Trophy.

 

All stats via pro-football-reference.com.

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