There is no question the hype for Super Bowl XLVIII is deserved. This showdown between the league's best offense of the Denver Broncos and the league's best defense of the Seattle Seahawks promises to be a close one full of big-time plays.
Considering all the important storylines surrounding the matchup itself and the central playmakers, one key topic of discussion is which player will bring home the MVP award from the title game.
There are several marquee candidates for the award on both teams, but it will take the perfect mix of team success and individual triumph to secure one of the hardest achievements to earn in the sport.
It’s tough enough to make the Super Bowl but to win MVP on the grandest stage of them all is a true honor.
Here is all the vital viewing information for Super Bowl XLVIII and the athletes with the best chances to become the most valuable player in the championship game.
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
When: Sunday, Feb. 2
Kickoff Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Spread: Denver -3, via Bovada.lv
|1||Peyton Manning||Denver Broncos||QB|
|2||Wes Welker||Denver Broncos||WR|
|3||Marshawn Lynch||Seattle Seahawks||RB|
|4||Russell Wilson||Seattle Seahawks||QB|
|5||Demaryius Thomas||Denver Broncos||WR|
|6||Richard Sherman||Seattle Seahawks||CB|
|7||Matt Prater||Denver Broncos||K|
|8||Knowshon Moreno||Denver Broncos||RB|
|9||Julius Thomas||Denver Broncos||TE|
|10||Earl Thomas||Seattle Seahawks||S|
Denver’s top MVP candidate: Peyton Manning, QB
There is no player in the NFL more directly related to the success of his team than Peyton Manning. While there is no doubting the talent around him, Manning has lived up to the expectations and set records along the way.
Manning is one win away from a Super Bowl MVP award.
Denver has not played elite defense nor run the ball consistently this season. Instead, the success of the franchise has hinged on the play of the quarterback and his ability to utilize the wide array of weapons at his disposal.
The newly-crowned regular-season MVP, Manning unquestionably took advantage of the fact that his team boasts star wide receivers Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker, as well as pass-catching tight end, Julius Thomas.
The Broncos have built a talented roster and plugged in a veteran like Manning who can get the most out of his offensive weapons. With every player in the Denver locker room understanding that this is the team’s best chance to make an impact, the franchise will once again rally around Manning.
From the offensive line to the receivers to everyone on defense and special teams, Manning’s experience and confidence will guide the Broncos through the Super Bowl festivities without too many distractions.
If Denver is focused and Manning is sharp, the Seahawks will not be able to stop the AFC Champions. With two weeks of preparation time, there's no doubt Manning will be prepared.
Manning’s predicted stat line: 30-of-40 for 400 yards and three touchdowns.
Breaking down denver’s other MVP candidates
Led by Manning, the offensive unit in Denver is the most explosive in the NFL. While squaring off against the league’s best secondary will force the Broncos to keep the offense simple, there will be plenty of chances for the key players on the unit to shine.
It was hard to decide between wide receivers Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas as Denver’s No. 2 and No. 3 candidates for Super Bowl MVP, but with Richard Sherman likely covering Thomas, Welker should have more of an opportunity to get open and fill out the stat sheet.
Both men will get their fair share of targets, but Welker should be able to find openings as the speedy slot receiver who can give the Seahawks trouble across the middle and move the chains.
Another X-factor for the Broncos will be kicker Matt Prater. The veteran made 25 of his 26 field-goal attempts during the regular season and has carried that success into the postseason, going 5-of-6 in two games.
Running back Knowshon Moreno and tight end Julius Thomas will undoubtedly play a role in the championship game, but it will take one of these players having one of the best statistical day of his career to win the MVP award from Manning if the team wins.
Seattle’s top MVP candidate: Marshawn Lynch, RB
There are several players on Seattle's roster that could win the MVP award if the team is victorious, but there are few stars who are as directly associated with the success of the franchise as running back Marshawn Lynch.
Some fans will claim quarterback Russell Wilson has a bigger impact on any given game, but the Seahawks' run-first mentality indicates that Lynch is the biggest key to success.
Which player is most likely to win the Super Bowl MVP award?
If the running back isn’t wearing down defenders with his hard-nosed style and keeping drives alive, the offensive unit will falter and stall. A Seattle win would inevitably be due to the play of Lynch.
Whether the power back consistently finds success or not, the Seahawks must feed the ball to him early and often. Denver has only allowed 129 total yards rushing through two postseason games, and there is no question that the Broncos front seven will leave it all on the field Sunday.
Lynch has racked up an impressive 249 yards and three touchdowns on 50 carries during his team’s two postseason games, but it has been his ability to beat defenses down and leave them vulnerable at the end of games that is his biggest contribution to the team.
Seattle’s defense will have to come up huge stopping Manning for the Seahawks to be in the position to secure a win, but Lynch will find the appropriate gaps to keep drives alive and will lead his team to a championship if Manning and Denver stumble.
Lynch’s predicted stat line: 20 carries for 85 yards and one touchdown.
Breaking down Seattle’s other MVP candidates
While Lynch has the best chance to succeed during the Super Bowl, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson will also have ample opportunities to make an impact against the inconsistent secondary of the Broncos.
A player like Wilson that touches the ball on almost every offensive snap will always find a way to be a factor in a game of this importance, but how much head coach Pete Carroll asks of Wilson has yet to be seen.
Seattle will also have two MVP candidates in the secondary with cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Earl Thomas. As two of the keys in the league’s most dangerous defensive backfield, the duo helped Seattle allow only 172 passing yards per game and 16 touchdowns through the air during the regular season.
Both Sherman and Thomas have the ability and the aggressiveness to make a game-clinching interception in the waning stages of the game and seal a Super Bowl MVP award.
*Stats via NFL.com.