Deciding the winner of the Super Bowl usually comes down to which team's stars can take over and play at another level. There are a bevy of stars in Super Bowl XLVIII that have that kind of potential.
Both the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks boast star-studded squads that have shown the ability to put up big numbers. While going up against the best competition should temper our expectations, it's hard to imagine a scenario where none of the game's best talents steal the show.
Very rarely does an underdog performer step up and put up the best stat line. To be fair, the Broncos and Seahawks don't really have too many guys that might even be put in a position to step up in such a way—barring any injuries, of course.
Here's what you can expect from the biggest names in the Super Bowl.
When: Sunday, Feb. 2, at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Betting Lines (via Bovada)
- Over/Under: 47
- Spread: Denver (-3)
All eyes will be on Peyton Manning in this one. After a record-setting 2013, Manning will be looking to lead his Broncos to a Super Bowl win. Unfortunately, history in big games and the colder weather will both be working against him.
That being said, you can never expect Manning to not have at least a decent game. The guy has made a living feasting off opposing defenses, and despite Seattle's strengths in the secondary, Manning will still have a very respectable outing.
The key for Manning will be connecting on horizontal routes. Those routes will give him the biggest window to throw into, as Richard Sherman is as lock down of a corner as they come in the vertical passing game.
If Denver wins, Manning will be the Super Bowl MVP.
|Cmps||Cmp %||Yards||TD/INT||Rush Yards|
Even though he'll be playing on the biggest stage of his young career, expect Russell Wilson to be the exact same quarterback that we've seen all season long. He's as infallible as they come, and the Super Bowl won't prove to be too much for him.
Never one to light up the box score, you can rest assured knowing that Wilson will throw for his typical touchdown and 200 yards while doing just enough to keep his team's offense going. His ability to scramble in the pocket will allow for him to navigate around the Denver pass rush and keep plays alive.
Peyton Manning makes more money in a week than Russell Wilson makes ALL season. Peyton per week ($882,352) Wilson this season ($526,217)— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) February 1, 2014
If Manning finds his groove and starts going off for big play after big play, Wilson will need to do his best to match him. Wilson will lose in a straight shootout with Manning, but he will be forced to keep the game close.
The Seahawks need the same Russell Wilson they've enjoyed all season in the Super Bowl—nothing more, nothing less.
The Broncos wide receivers are considered wild cards in this one, mostly because of the dominance of Seattle's secondary. Any one of Manning's four favorite targets—Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker and Julius Thomas—has the potential to have a decent game.
After all, somebody will have to catch Manning's passes.
I think that Demaryius Thomas will have the best game out of the quartet. I foresee a situation where Richard Sherman covers Julius Thomas, therefore neutralizing him and keeping Sherman occupied. The tight end was Manning's favorite redzone target this season, and the last thing Seattle head coach Pete Carroll wants to do is give Manning the luxury of finding his favorite target for a touchdown.
This will put Byron Maxwell on the wideout, and should lead to pretty favorable results.
Marshawn Lynch must have a good game in order for the Seahawks to win. Russell Wilson cannot do it on his own.
"Beast Mode" ran for 109 yards and a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. The Niners ranked No. 4 against the run this year. Denver ranked first, though they allowed nearly 50 yards per game less on the ground than San Fran.
That should make things interesting.
Lynch runs like no other back in the NFL, though. Running with defenders on his back doesn't seem to phase him, and he's extraordinarily elusive for a power runner. He won't crack 100 yards on the ground, but he'll come close.
If Seattle wins, Lynch is the MVP.
Other Key Performers
Here are several other important players and how they'll fare in the Super Bowl.
|Richard Sherman||3 T, 1 PD, 0 INT|
|Bobby Wagner||10 T, 1 PD, 1 S|
|Golden Tate||5 Rec, 65 Yds, 1 TD|
|Percy Harvin||4 Rec, 52 Yds, 0 TD, 26 Rush Yds|
|Wes Welker||4 Rec, 68 Yds, 1 TD|
|Eric Decker||3 Rec, 28 Yds, 0 TD|
|Julius Thomas||2 Rec, 29 Yds, 0 TD|
|Knowshon Moreno||24 Att, 78 Yds, 1 TD, 3 Rec, 21 Yds|
|Danny Trevathan||8 T, 1 PD, 1.5 S|
|Champ Bailey||3 T, 2 PD, 0 INT|