This sets up a lot of intriguing storylines, like the matchup between Demaryius Thomas and Richard Sherman or Marshawn Lynch against the Broncos defensive line, including Terrance Knighton. But it also makes for a difficult game to predict.
The game is so tough to figure out, in fact, that it was difficult for oddsmakers to make a decision on what the spread should be set at, as Jimmy Vaccaro of the South Point sports book points out to Tim Dahlberg of The Associated Press:
Take your best shot. It's an intriguing matchup with no clear cut favorite. [...] It's incredible already, they're lined up betting this game like it started a half hour from now. If we don't do $100 million on this game I'd be really puzzled.
With the game being in New York and the early forecast for below normal temperatures that favors a defensive team. It also favors a running team and that's certainly an advantage to the Seahawks.
With all that said, the Broncos are the favorite by three points despite Vaccaro's in-depth explanation as to why picking the Seahawks makes sense.
Here is the latest point spread ahead of the big game and information that bettors need to know before putting money on the matchup.
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
When: Sunday, Feb. 2, at 6:30 p.m. EST
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Spread: Denver (-3) according to Bovada
Super Bowl Breakdown
While there were early predictions that the two teams could be playing in snowy and windy conditions, it doesn't appear those were accurate. According to The Weather Channel, winds could be at a gusting six to nine mph while the weather will be around 40 degrees at kickoff.
In other words, it will be football weather when the two teams take the field.
The Broncos have a plethora of wide receivers that are all at full health after a regular season in which they had four players catch 10 or more touchdowns. With favorable conditions, the passing game should be in full force.
At the top of the list for the Broncos is Thomas, who has averaged 104.4 receiving yards per game in his postseason career. Then there's Eric Decker, who, as Pro Football Focus points out, could play a crucial component as well for Manning as he has all season:
In 2013, Peyton Manning had a QB Rating of 124.4 and 113.4 when throwing to Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker respectively.— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 23, 2014
The Seahawks feature the best defensive secondary in football behind All-Pro players Earl Thomas III and Richard Sherman. Along with the great passing defense, the likes of both Bobby Wagner and Bruce Irvin will look to disrupt the quick-paced passing game by Manning.
As for the top defense in the NFL coming into the Super Bowl, history appears to be on the Seahawks' side, as ESPN Stats & Info points out:
This is 16th time that the defense that allowed fewest pts in NFL has made the Super Bowl since the merger. The previous 15 teams went 12-3— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 20, 2014
Who ya got?
What the matchup could come down to is the performance of either the Broncos defense or the Seahawks offense. Much like the other sides of the ball, the Seattle rushing offense and the Denver rushing defense match up well.
With both teams coming into the game with similar strengths and weaknesses, predicting the outcome is just as difficult as trying to figure out why the NFL put the Super Bowl in MetLife Stadium in the first place.
While Sherman and the Seahawks defense have been great all year, Manning will be hoisting his second Lombardi Trophy for a Broncos team that will win its first Super Bowl since 1998.
Prediction: Broncos 31, Seahawks 23
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