Ah, the Super Bowl. After months of high-level football, the two No. 1 teams in each conference in the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos will face off on the biggest stage in all of sports.
What would the Super Bowl be without some of the greatest players in the game? Peyton Manning and Marshawn Lynch highlight the two teams' offenses while Richard Sherman and Terrance Knighton will look to stop the two dynamic weapons.
While quarterbacks aren't the only players who put up huge numbers in the Super Bowl, a signal-caller has won the award the last four years and in six out of the last seven, according to Pro Football Reference. So the odds appear to be in either Manning or Russell Wilson's favor.
Before the big game finally kicks off on Sunday, here is the vital information for the Super Bowl along with possible candidates for the MVP award.
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
When: Sunday, Feb. 2, at 6:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Spread: Denver (-3), according to Bovada
Super Bowl MVP Candidates
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Lynch was literally born for this type of game.
Let's start with Lynch's postseason success. In his playoff career, Beast Mode has been one of the best chunk yardage runners in the history of the game with a nose for the end zone, as Desmond Purnell of NFL.com points out:
In 6 career postseason games, Marshawn Lynch has 4 TD runs of 25-plus yards, the highest such total in NFL history.— Desmond Purnell (@DesmondPurnell) January 24, 2014
As for the environment, Lynch has made a career out of running in poor conditions in both Seattle and with the Buffalo Bills. Though the Broncos rushing defense has been one of their strong suits this season, Beast Mode is one of the best in the game in running up the middle, as ESPN Stats and Info notes:
The Broncos rank 2nd this season allowing 3.7 yards per rush between the tackles. But look out for Marshawn Lynch pic.twitter.com/Qy8SETUKyM— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 27, 2014
Though a running back hasn't won the award since 1998 when Terrell Davis took home the trophy, Lynch appears to be the best candidate to break the trend.
Predicted Stats: 111 rushing yards, 32 receiving yards, one touchdown
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
Outside of quarterbacks, wide receivers have been the only other offensive players to win the MVP award in the last 10 seasons. And if anyone can pull the award away from Manning, it will be Demaryius Thomas.
But he'll be facing off with Richard Sherman, who Thomas believes is one of the best corners in the league, according to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com:
I think [I've] faced more physical. But he is physical. He switch it up, he don't always try to be physical because he don't have to. He switch up stuff, that's why I feel he's one of the best at what he does.
Though he will be matched up with Sherman, one of Thomas' best abilities is actually to create huge plays after the catch. Among wide receivers in the NFL, Thomas leads all candidates with 718 yards after the catch, according to SportingCharts.com, and hasn't slowed down in the postseason thus far.
His average of 104.4 yards in his five playoff games throughout his career makes him dynamic, but he'll have to prove it again on the big stage in conditions that aren't exactly perfect for catching passes. If he can do that, the fourth-year receiver might just be outstanding enough to take the MVP award.
Predicted Stats: 106 receiving yards, one touchdown
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
As a second-year quarterback, Russell Wilson perhaps won't be the best quarterback of the two on the field when the game takes place. But with the quarterback dictating the pace of the offense and being in charge, the spotlight will be on Wilson throughout the game.
In clutch situations, Wilson isn't fazed. Much has been made about the fact that the Seattle signal-caller has gone 27-9 over his first two seasons and is tied with Ben Roethlisberger for the most wins by a QB in his first two seasons coming into the big game.
But there's another stat that ESPN Stats and Info tweeted that shows how he performs under pressure:
Most Game-Winning Drives, Last 2 Seasons- Andrew Luck 11, Russell Wilson 10, Tony Romo 9— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 28, 2014
Given the forecast for the big game, Wilson passing the ball might be difficult, but he can use his legs much better than Manning. With ice in his veins and an ability to shed tackles in the running game, Wilson could be a huge key to the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl along with Lynch.
Predicted Stats: 197 passing yards, 46 rushing yards, two touchdowns, one interception
Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos
Now onto the favorite to win the whole thing. If the Broncos win the Super Bowl, Manning will more than likely be the MVP. In fact, of the last six quarterbacks to win the award, Peyton and Eli Manning have won half of them.
With all of the talk about Manning's legacy and the importance of winning this game for his career, it's due to his experience in not only the regular season but the postseason as well. ESPN Stats and Info presents a stat that shows the huge disparity between Wilson and Manning:
Peyton Manning has more than 10 times as many pass attempts as Russell Wilson pic.twitter.com/lGEilsvaTT— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 27, 2014
What Manning will need to do in order to win the MVP award will likely just be to win with decent stats.
As long as he doesn't throw three or four interceptions during the game and puts together good passing numbers with a few touchdowns against the Seattle secondary, expect Manning to lift both the Lombardi and MVP trophies yet again if Denver wins.
Predicted Stats: 292 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception
Manning has been overpowering for nearly every defense he's faced on the year. While he's probably not going to throw for four touchdowns or pass for over 400 yards against the Seahawks, his receiving corps has enough weapons to spread the field.
The often overlooked aspect of this game is the Broncos defense, which has improved in the playoffs. After allowing teams to rattle off an average of 356 yards in the regular season, Denver is holding teams to a mere 289.5 yards through two games and hasn't given up more than 17 points in either contest.
With all of those factors on their side along with an offense that features playmakers at every position, the Broncos will win the Super Bowl and give Manning his elusive second ring.
Prediction: Broncos 31, Seahawks 23
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