While the Super Bowl is meant to be a game between the two best teams in the NFL, it does not always work out that way. Fortunately, this year will be different as the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos will battle in what should be the best title game in years.
ESPN simplifies what makes this matchup so enticing:
There is a ton of talent and star power on each side of the ball, and the storylines are endless to make Super Bowl XLVIII a classic.
Take a look at this guide for everything you need to know heading into the big game on Sunday.
When: Sunday, Feb. 2 at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
Mobile: NFL Mobile app
Spread: Denver (-2.5), according to Vegas Insider
Who Wins Between Unstoppable Offense and Immovable Defense?
This will be the first time the No. 1 offense in the league will face the No. 1 defense since 1990. Not only are these squads the best in both yards and scoring, but the Broncos excel at passing while the Seahawks can stop the pass.
Peyton Manning has had an incredible season, setting NFL records for most passing touchdowns and yards. He helped the Broncos offense score the most points in league history.
However, the unit will have a hard time continuing this momentum against Seattle, led by Richard Sherman. Not only did the cornerback lead the league with eight interceptions this year, but he wants you to know he is the best player at his position.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, this could end up being a problem for Manning:
Of course, each side is surrounded by other talented players. Manning can spread the ball around to Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Julius Thomas and others, while the Seahawks also have Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in the secondary.
Additionally, the Broncos have one of the best offensive lines in the league that will go against an elite defensive line.
Every stage of this matchup will be a thrill to watch throughout all four quarters.
Can the Seattle Offense Give Marshawn Lynch Help?
Although Marshawn Lynch does not like to talk a lot, he certainly plays hard. The running back has been one of the most consistent players in the NFL the past three seasons, totaling over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in each.
Somehow he has been even better since the playoffs started with 249 rushing yards and three touchdowns in two games.
However, Lynch cannot do it all himself, especially against the Broncos' No. 8 run defense. The Seahawks will need some help in the passing game to move the football and get onto the scoreboard.
The good news is Russell Wilson can make big plays, and he also believes in his receivers to do the same. The quarterback discussed his wideouts in the postgame press conference following the NFC Championship Game, via Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times:
They’ve done a great job all year. To think about our receivers and all the things they’ve done, there are a couple games I could have played better. I put that on me, but they’ve done a tremendous job. They’ve come down with clutch catches.
At the end of the day, we want to be a team that makes the big play when we need to. Always make the consistent ones, but make the big play when we need to, and the guys have done that all year.
Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated puts an interesting spin on the receiving corps:
If the Seahawks have shown nothing else this season, it's that their receiving corps is prepared to meet the challenge. In fact, as counterintuitive as it may seem, they could be more dangerous because there isn't a dominant No. 1 guy for defenses to focus on.
While Denver does not have a dominant defense, it has held its last four opponents to under 20 points. The squad is capable of shutting down the Seahawks if there is no balance, so the players in the passing attack must step up in this one.
How Will the Weather Affect the Game?
Ever since it was announced that Super Bowl XLVIII would take place in the New York area (yes, it is actually in New Jersey), fans were concerned about how much of a factor weather will play in the game.
Would it be below freezing? Would there be snow? Would the game be postponed?
According to Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, the forecast has improved dramatically in recent days:
Still, both teams have to be prepared for any situation. As Broncos coach John Fox explained, "I think, in order to be a championship football team, we've got to be weatherproof," via Dan Graziano of ESPN.
If precipitation or heavy winds prevent throwing the ball, the Seahawks could end up getting a big advantage. They could hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch and control the game.
On the other hand, Denver has the edge in the kicking game, regardless of weather, thanks to Matt Prater. Not only did he lead the NFL in accuracy this year, but he also set a league record for the longest field goal of all time.
No matter what, fans will all be hoping for a clean game with few issues to take away from the effort on the field.
Prediction: Broncos 27, Seahawks 21
This is certain to be an incredibly close matchup throughout with both sides giving their all. However, the Broncos have been almost impossible to stop all season because they have too many weapons to cover.
Even if Sherman blankets Demaryius Thomas while Chancellor takes on Julius Thomas, the Seahawks still have few options to guard Welker. Manning will continually find the open man and move the ball down the field with consistency.
While Lynch should have a big game, he will be unable to do it all, and the Broncos will come away with their first Super Bowl win since John Elway was under center.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.