Both teams possess strong defenses but vary on the offensive side of the ball. For the Broncos, their offense has one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game in Peyton Manning. As for the Seahawks, their running game is one of the best in the NFL. Their ability to run the ball dictates how the offense is run over the course of a game.
And that sets us up for what hopes to be a great Super Bowl. Denver has one of the best rush defenses in the league, while Seattle’s defense has been great against both passing and rushing all season.
Here are two players from each team who will have a difficult time during Super Bowl XLVIII.
Demaryius Thomas is one of Denver’s stars who will have his hands full this Sunday. Keeping him out of the game could throw off the Broncos’ passing attack.
That is what Seattle defensive back Richard Sherman will be aiming to accomplish.
This will be the best passing defense the Broncos have faced all season. The Seahawks allowed just 172 passing yards per game during the regular season, best in the NFL. Their all-pro cornerback Sherman was a big part of that.
Thomas will have a difficult time getting open on Sunday. It will be up to Manning to motion Thomas or put him in the slot to avoid Sherman. He may also be able to beat him with slants and drags.
But if Thomas doesn't find any open space, he may be absent from MetLife Stadium.
Peyton Manning is going against the toughest defense he has seen this season.
The Seahawks are strong defensively on both sides of the ball. Manning’s ability to read defenses will be tested thoroughly. He doesn’t have the strongest arm and Knowshon Moreno isn’t exactly an elite running back.
All season long, Manning’s play has dictated the outcome for the Broncos. The opposing offense should not be a threat to Manning and the Broncos. If he can find the slightest weaknesses in Seattle's defense, he should be just fine.
Manning's quick release will also factor into his success. Completing short passes will be key in keeping Seattle honest and ultimately open things up down the field.
For the Seahawks, Marshawn Lynch is the guy who will have his hands full.
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports says Russell Wilson is really good passing on play-action and single-read throws. The Broncos can eliminate those skills by stopping Lynch and bringing pressure, which they are sure to do against the run and pass.
This will be nothing new for Lynch. He still finds lanes opened up by his offensive line is one of the most physical backs in the game. Most of his yards are earned the hard way.
Don’t be surprised to see Denver stuffing the box with eight defenders. They are going to do their best to make Lynch a non-factor and force Seattle to be one-dimensional.
As previously mentioned, the Broncos are going to do their best to eliminate Lynch from the game.
That means that it may come to Russell Wilson’s ability to make plays that decides the outcome of the game. Denver will be aiming to keep the former Wisconsin Badger inside the pocket. Although not a bad passer, Wilson is more of a threat passing outside the pocket and scrambling for a first down.
Wilson is also great at extending plays. He feels pressure and will have to in order to escape the pocket. Denver's defense won't be coming off the field if Wilson has open space in front of him. Then of course, containing Wilson may result in open receivers and big plays.
That may be the only way Seattle moves the ball down the field.
As good as his team’s defense is, Wilson still has to try and outscore Manning. If Seattle’s defense can’t stop Manning, Denver head coach John Fox be more risky with blitz’s and coverages.
All stats courtesy of ESPN and ESPN Player Profiles
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