Super Bowl

Super Bowl 2014: Position-by-Position Breakdown of Each Team

Jan 11, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) receives the hand off from quarterback Russell Wilson (3) against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of the 2013 NFC divisional playoff football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Sean ODonnellContributor IIIJanuary 31, 2014

Now that Super Bowl XLVIII is right around the corner, and it appears as though the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will be fortunate enough to get some decent weather, the strategies and plans of each team may change slightly to accommodate the warmer climate.

With the weather forecast now showing no signs of snow and approaching 50 degrees, according to Weather.com, the game should be dominated by the running game and defense by a lesser extent.

Now that both teams appear to be able to unleash their full arsenal of potential as they did during the regular season, the most accurate way to predict a possible outcome is to compare these competitors by their strengths at each position.

 

Quarterback

Joe Mahoney/Associated Press

Both of these teams have very strong signal-callers at the helm. The surging Peyton Manning has been phenomenal this season, breaking single-season records for touchdown passes and passing yards. Russell Wilson is one of the most promising up-and-coming quarterbacks in today's NFL.

Both of these quarterbacks were extremely efficient throughout the 2013-14 regular season:

Peyton Manning vs. Russell Wilson: 2013-14 Regular Season
PlayerComp %YardsTDsINTsRating
Manning68.35,4775510115.1
Wilson63.13,357269101.2
ESPN.com

Wilson was able to add another 539 rushing yards and one score to his totals throughout the season as well. However, after a record season and continued success during the playoffs, Manning gets the upper hand here.

Advantage: Broncos

 

Running Back

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 19:  Running back Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks scores a 40-yard touchdown against cornerback Tramaine Brock #26 of the San Francisco 49ers in the third quarter during the 2014 NFC Championship at CenturyLink Field on Ja
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Broncos and Seahawks have been able to maintain balanced offenses all season and into the postseason. With talented running backs on both teams, both are capable of producing devastating runs at any point.

Marshawn Lynch and Knowshon Moreno had very solid seasons:

Knowshon Moreno vs. Marshawn Lynch: 2013-14 Regular Season
PlayerRushesYardsYPCTDs
Moreno2411,0384.310
Lynch3011,2574.212
ESPN.com

Both of these players were able to rattle off similar regular-season performances. Although, it has been Lynch who continued to display his dominance throughout the playoffs, with two 100-plus yard games and three touchdowns.

Advantage: Seahawks

 

Wide Receiver

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19:   Demaryius Thomas #88 celebrates his third quarter touchdown with  Eric Decker #87 of the Denver Broncos during the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014
Elsa/Getty Images

Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate have been a solid duo for the Seahawks. The team will become even more dangerous during the Super Bowl due to the return of Percy Harvin. However, it is almost impossible to look beyond the Broncos' trio of Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker when speaking of wide receivers:

Broncos Wide Receiver Stats: 2013-14 Regular Season
PlayerReceptionsYardsTDs
Thomas921,43014
Decker871,28811
Welker7377810
NFL.com

Especially with Manning at the helm, this is an easy advantage for Denver.

Advantage: Broncos

 

Tight End

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

With a young quarterback at the helm, the tight end position is one that can stand an upgrade for Seattle. Zach Miller has been serviceable, but he is nowhere near the threat of Denver's Julius Thomas:

Julius Thomas vs. Zach Miller: 2013-14 Regular Season
PlayerReceptionsYardsTDs
Thomas6578812
Miller333875
ESPN.com

This isn't really much of a comparison, as the edge easily goes to Denver.

Advantage: Broncos

 

Offensive Line

Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

During the 2013-14 regular season, the Broncos offensive line was second in the league in pass protection with a positive 51.6-overall grade, according to Pro Football Focus (subscribers link). The Seahawks struggled in that department, ranking 24th overall with a negative-14.0 grade.

Blocking for the run shows the same story for both teams. Denver was much more efficient, ranking eighth in the league with a positive-12.6 grade, according to Pro Football Focus (subscribers link). Again, Seattle struggled, recording a negative-49.0 grade, which was good enough for 23rd in the league.

Both teams have dealt with injuries along the line this year; however, it appears that Denver has been much better equipped to handle the ensuing changes.

Advantage: Broncos

 

Defensive Line

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 11:  Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints is sacked by defensive end Cliff Avril #56 and defensive end Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks in the third quarter during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at CenturyL
Harry How/Getty Images

Seattle has been absolutely dominant on the defensive front this season. Over the regular season, the defensive line accounted for 31.5 sacks and only gave up an average of 3.9 yards per carry against the run. This is an absolute perfectly balanced line.

Denver's defensive line has quietly produced this year. They accounted for 31.5 sacks and only gave up an average of 3.9 yards per carry against the run. Like Seattle, Denver has been able to produce a very effective, balanced defensive line.

These lines have been very efficient and are extremely close regarding talent. However, Denver is without key players Kevin Vickerson and Derek Wolfe, which affords Seattle the edge.

Advantage: Seahawks

 

Linebackers

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 19:  Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner #54 of the Seattle Seahawks runs out of the tunnel before taking on the San Francisco 49ers during the 2014 NFC Championship at CenturyLink Field on January 19, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Again, both teams are fortunate enough to have a stellar linebacker corps. Danny Trevathan has been fantastic for the Broncos this season, totaling 129 tackles, two sacks and three forced fumbles. Bobby Wagner continues to produce for Seattle, totaling 120 tackles and five sacks.

The difference here once again is the injury bug. The Broncos have lost sack specialist Von Miller for the season, while Seattle remains relatively unscathed in this department.

Advantage: Seahawks

 

Secondary

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 19:  Cornerback Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates after he tips the ball leading to an intereption by outside linebacker Malcolm Smith #53 to clinch the victory for the Seahawks against the San Francisco 49ers du
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The difference in this area of the field is absolutely night and day. The Seahawks boast the league's best pass defense, allowing an average of just 172.0 passing yards per game over the regular season. The Broncos, meanwhile, allowed an average of 254.4 passing yards per game, ranking 27th in the league.

The same can be said for the turnover department. Richard Sherman had a great regular season with eight interceptions. Earl Thomas, Byron Maxwell and Kam Chancellor also had fine totals this year.

For the Broncos, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Chris Harris were the only members of the secondary to record at least three interceptions over the regular season.

Advantage: Seahawks

 

Clearly, after taking all of these positional comparisons into account, Super Bowl XLVIII is truly a battle between Denver's top-ranked offense and Seattle's top-ranked defense.

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