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Seahawks vs. Broncos: How Denver Can Stop Marshawn Lynch

January 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (94) celebrates after sacking New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) in the second half of the 2013 AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.  Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Dilan AmesCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2014

It's a well-documented fact that the Seattle Seahawks move much better as an offense when Marshawn Lynch gets his engine warm and starts busting off a couple of runs.

The 'Hawks have relied on the legs of Lynch on many occasions this season, but especially in the playoffs.

When they take on the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, Lynch will have to be limited by Jack Del Rio's defense if Denver is to win this game.

Del Rio's unit has developed a reputation of stopping the run effectively and has been extra stingy since the playoffs began. They're allowing just 65 rush yards per game.

The Broncos are very big up front and use that size to stuff opposing teams' runners. 

If Denver can limit Lynch's impact, then the Seahawks offense will struggle to get any sort of momentum, especially if there's bad weather as predicted.

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 12:  Danny Woodhead #39 of the San Diego Chargers is tackled by Terrance Knighton #94 and Chris Harris #25 of the Denver Broncos during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 12, 2014 in Denv
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

They gave up just 100 yards rushing per game and allowed more than 30 yards after contact to just three different runners.  

As I mentioned earlier, Denver is very sizable up front (over 1,100 pounds), but they are also pretty athletic. Terrance Knighton, or "Pot Roast" as he has been dubbed, has been great as a run defender all postseason long.

Denver has allowed an average of 3.7 yards per carry up the middle of the line, but allow just 2.9 when Knighton is on the field. 

He moves very well for his size (6'3", 335 pounds) and will use that to his advantage against the sporadic play of Seattle's offensive line. Denver's defense ranked eighth in the NFL against the run, and that was in large part because of Knighton and defensive end Shaun Phillips.

Phillips had a great year in 2013 and tallied a solid 10 tackles for loss during the regular season.

Nov 10, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA;  Denver Broncos defensive end Shaun Phillips (90) celebrates a second half sack of San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (not pictured) at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport

Expect Del Rio to flex his muscle up front and put a lot of pressure on the right side of Seattle's offensive line; that's where they're weakest. 

Denver has one of the better linebacking corps in the league and are very athletic in that area.

They're led by veteran Wesley Woodyard and his younger counterpart Danny Trevathan. Trevathan rarely misses tackles in the open field and is especially efficient in run defense

The Broncos' biggest objective will be to stop Lynch from getting warm, and that will come from confusing the Seattle offense. 

Given the athleticism of their linebackers, Denver could easily sell them as being in coverage on some plays then blitz them once the ball is snapped. 

What the Broncos have to do is simple—they just have to keep up what they've been doing all season. They've been one of the best run defenses all year long, and although Lynch will be a challenge, he's not an insurmountable one. 

 

*All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference*

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