The Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos are set to compete in Super Bowl XLVIII, which kicks off on Sunday, Feb. 2, starting at 6:30 p.m. ET at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Nobody's expecting a blowout, as these two teams appear to be a worthy match for one another, having finished the regular season as top seeds in their respective conferences.
Denver is led by legendary quarterback Peyton Manning, who broke the NFL's single-season records this past year for passing yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55). Not surprisingly, the Broncos finished with the league's top-ranked scoring offense, averaging 37.9 points per game.
Seattle is the ying to Denver's yang, however, entering the contest with the league's most impressive defense.
The Seahawks allowed just 14.4 points per game during the regular season and held opposing passing attacks to just 172 yards and one touchdown per game, thanks to the fine play of Richard Sherman and the "Legion of Boom."
The game will surely be the most-watched event on television, as it is every year. Anthony Riccobono of IBTimes.com notes this year's event will likely exceed last year's viewership of 108 million.
With that in mind, here's a look at when and where you can catch the action, along with betting information, team injury reports and more.
When: Sunday, Feb. 2, at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Betting Lines (via Covers)
- Over/Under: 47 points
- Spread: Denver (-3)
|Lynch, Marshawn||RB||Non-Injury Related||DNP||-||-||-|
Peyton Manning vs. Legion of Boom
Manning and his passing attack versus Richard Sherman and the "Legion of Boom" has been the most hyped matchup since both teams made it past their conference rivals to reach the Super Bowl.
And for good reason, as both teams feature the premier squad in the NFL when it comes to passing offense (Denver) and passing defense (Seattle).
"That's the matchup everybody is going to be talking about, Peyton Manning vs. the Legion of Boom," Hall of Fame quarterback and Fox color analyst Troy Aikman said, via Mike Klis of The Denver Post. "I'm excited to see it."
After a record-breaking regular season, Manning has somewhat cooled off in the playoffs. That said, he passed for 630 yards with four touchdowns and one interception against San Diego and New Orleans, and he's had two weeks to prepare for the Seahawks.
Furthermore, rather than scoring points as fast as possible, like they did during much of the regular season, the Broncos have become much more methodical of late, as Trey Wingo of ESPN points out:
How the Broncos offense has evolved: in 2013 regular season their average TD drive was 3:00 long and 7 plays. Playoffs? 6:14 long 12 plays— trey wingo (@wingoz) January 27, 2014
It will be fascinating to watch the chess match unfold between Manning and Seattle's defensive secondary. Both teams feature one-of-a-kind talent, and it'll come down (as it always does) to execution under pressure.
Manning will get his 300-plus yards passing, and he'll throw a couple of touchdowns, too.
However, the Seahawks come into this game as the best team in the league in terms of creating turnovers, having racked up 39 of them during the regular season—28 of which came on interceptions. Because of this, it's reasonable to surmise Seattle could come away with a couple of picks on Manning.
Seattle is deadly at converting turnovers into points, finishing the regular season in third place, with 115 points scored off turnovers, according to SportingCharts.com.
Marshawn Lynch and his maulers up front on Seattle's offensive line are famous for wearing defenses down. Lynch picked up 249 rushing yards and three touchdowns against the 49ers and Saints, and it'll be shocking if he doesn't come through with another huge game on the ground.
While the Seahawks come into the game with zero Super Bowl experience, the NFC teams it beat to reach this point were much stronger, points out Brian Burke of the New York Times:
Seattle’s playoff run was tougher, too. New Orleans and San Francisco were measurably better teams than San Diego and New England. Accounting for strength of schedule, Seattle is the slightly stronger team and should be favored to win Super Bowl XLVIII with an edge of 52 percent to 48 percent.
This slight edge Burke projects falls in line with my own projection.
Seattle has a more complete team, can win in a number of different ways and is a team that, to this point, hasn't shown any aversion to pressure.
Seahawks win, 23-21.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78