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Super Bowl 2014: Last-Minute Predictions for Seahawks vs. Broncos

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19:   Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos calls a play against the New England Patriots during the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IJanuary 6, 2017

After two weeks of hype, Super Bowl XLVIII is nearly here. 

Having had plenty of time to break down the tape, crunch the numbers and analyze this year's matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos, it's finally prediction time. 

Without further ado, below are my last-minute predictions for the big game on Feb. 2.

 

Date: Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014

Start Time: 6:30 p.m. ET

Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

Watch: Fox

Live Stream: Fox Sports Go

Spread: Denver (-3), according to Bovada.lv. 

 

Super Bowl XLVIII Champion: Seattle Seahawks

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 19:  Cornerback Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates on the field after the Seahawks defeat the San Francisco 49ers 23-17 in the 2014 NFC Championship at CenturyLink Field on January 19, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

There are strong cases to be made for both the Seahawks and the Broncos, but it's difficult to pick against Seattle given its unrivaled defensive prowess. Although both teams have played lights-out on that side of the ball through the playoffs, the Seahawks' ability to force turnovers at a high rate clearly sets them apart.

While both units are allowing under 17 points per game in the postseason, the Seahawks have also forced four total turnovers, compared to zero for the Broncos. It's no secret that turnovers are game-changers this time of year and can befall even the most prolific offenses.

Plus, Seattle's elite secondary and pass rush has neutralized opposing passing attacks all year long. With Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor leading the way, watch for the team's defensive backs to disrupt the timing of the Broncos receivers, thus giving its dominant front seven more time to get to Peyton Manning, as Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll points out via ESPN Seattle's Brady Henderson: 

The Broncos offensive line has been incredibly stout all season longallowing zero sacks in the playoffsand Manning will have a plethora of weapons to choose from. But keep in mind that Denver has yet to face a secondary as physical or communicative as Seattle's.  

Offensively, the Seahawks have a powerful running game to lean on and a dual-threat quarterback in Russell Wilson to bail them out.

Prediction: Seahawks 23, Broncos 21

 

Super Bowl XLVIII MVP: Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 11:  Running back Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates after he scores a 31-yard touchdown run against the New Orleans Saints in the fourth quarter during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at CenturyLink Field on Janua
Harry How/Getty Images

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch prefers to let his game speak for itself, per ESPN's Kenny Mayne, and on Super Sunday, Beast Mode is sure to steal the show.

The NFL's leading rusher this postseason, Lynch has accounted for 249 rushing yards and three touchdowns in two Seattle wins, powering the Seahawks offense and, at times, putting the team on his back. 

Although Denver's ability to stop the run has been its biggest strength defensively, Lynch and his offensive lineman proved in their NFC Championship Game victory over the San Francisco 49ers that they are capable of overcoming the league's top run-stopping units. 

Assuming Seahawks center Max Unger and starting guards J.R. Sweezy and James Carpenter can get to Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton and move him on a consistent basis, Lynch's bruising style of running is sure to pay off for Seattle. 

He's averaging five yards per carry this postseason and has surpassed the 100-yard mark in each of the past two games. If he can continue that trend vs. Denver and the Seahawks win, he'll have a great shot to become the first running back to win Super Bowl MVP honors since Denver's Terrell Davis back in 1998.

Prediction: 25 carries, 115 yards, one touchdown

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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