Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Date and Time: Sunday, Feb. 2, at 6:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Spread: Broncos -2.5, per Vegas Insider (as of Jan. 31)
Over/Under: 48.5, per CBS Sports (as of Jan. 31)
Either the Denver Broncos or the Seattle Seahawks will get to hold up the Lombardi Trophy after Super Bowl XLVIII, but isn’t the right to go to Disney World as the MVP the ultimate prize?
After Peyton Manning wins Super Bowl MVP on Sunday, I really hopes he yells "I'm going to Omaha!" instead of "I'm going to Disney World."— Chris Murray (@MurrayRGJ) January 31, 2014
The odds on the prop bet for who wins Super Bowl MVP are as follows, via Bovada and CBSSports.com:
|Field (any other player)||NA||NA||22/1|
So who is it going to be? Let’s dig into a discussion on the most likely MVPs for Super Bowl XLVIII.
It may not be much of a stretch to suggest that Manning can and will win the Super Bowl MVP award, but it would be irresponsible not to include him on this list.
He threw for a ridiculous 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns during the regular season and has not cooled off in the postseason. Against the San Diego Chargers, he posted 230 yards and two touchdowns, and against the New England Patriots, he tallied 400 yards and two touchdowns.
For context, Manning’s 5,477 regular-season passing yards were more than the total offensive yards for 18 of the league’s 32 teams, including the Seahawks (who tallied 5,424 yards of total offense this year).
If the Broncos win, it is hard to envision anyone besides No. 18 winning MVP honors.
Will Peyton Manning win the MVP if Denver wins?
It would take an incredible performance from another individual on Denver to take the award from Manning on both a sentimental level and a logical level. If a wide receiver posts big-time numbers, it will be Manning throwing him the ball, and Knowshon Moreno probably isn’t going to break free against the Seattle defense.
There’s a reason that Manning is the odds-on favorite to win the Super Bowl MVP. A second ring would completely cement his legacy and erase any lingering doubts about his ability to come through in the biggest moments.
Manning knows that and will play accordingly.
If we are working under the assumption that the Seahawks win the game, it would be easy to look to Marshawn Lynch as the most likely MVP candidate.
After all, Seattle ranked fourth in the league in rushing yards per game largely because of “Beast Mode’s” bruising running style. However, Denver’s defense (which ranked an impressive eighth in the league in opposing rushing yards allowed per game this year) will be keyed in on stopping No. 24.
As ESPN Stats & Info points out, there may not be a defense that is more tailor-suited to stopping Lynch than Denver’s:
Marshawn Lynch: 7.7 yds per rush up middle in playoffs. Broncos D: NFL-best 3.2 yds per rush up middle in reg season. pic.twitter.com/arWGGXHmsm— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 31, 2014
That leaves Russell Wilson, who will be forced to win the game with his arm.
The Broncos have survived without the injured Von Miller and Chris Harris, but Wilson will take advantage of the undermanned defense. After handing the ball off to Lynch for much of the game and controlling the tempo and clock, look for Wilson to mix in some play-action passes in the second half to freeze the Denver linebackers.
Just one second of hesitation from the Broncos defenders will allow the quick Wilson to get outside the pocket with his feet and either run for chunks of yardage or hit Doug Baldwin or Percy Harvin over the top for a clutch passing touchdown.
Wilson may have been the one to throw a critical fourth-quarter touchdown pass, and Richard Sherman may have been the one to deflect Colin Kaepernick’s final pass, but there wasn’t a more important player on the field for the Seahawks than Doug Baldwin during the NFC Championship Game.
He torched the 49ers secondary for 106 receiving yards and mixed in a back-breaking 69-yard kickoff return for good measure.
We have seen a number of players impact the Super Bowl with kick returns (Desmond Howard and Devin Hester come to mind), so don’t be surprised if Baldwin breaks one on Feb. 2.
What’s more, Champ Bailey will probably spend much of his time trying to stop Harvin.
With Bailey preoccupied with the speedy Harvin and Harris out of the lineup for Denver, Baldwin should have room to operate. If the opportunity is there to make a clutch play, Baldwin will come through according to his coach Pete Carroll, per Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News:
He’s really a clutch performer, and he’s just had so many significant plays in difficult situations. He’s a great competitor, he’s got a tremendous focus on battling and fighting and clawing and scratching. He comes through and works for them in really crucial moments.
Clutch plays earn Super Bowl MVPs.
Let me know who you think the MVP will be on Twitter: