Super Bowl XLVIII is finally here and will feature the high octane Broncos offense taking on the stout Seahawks secondary.
Who will lift the mighty Lombardi trophy?
Time & Date: Monday February 3, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
Coverage: LIVE on ESPN, 10:30 am AEDT
The Denver Broncos fresh off an impressive 26 – 16 win over the New England Patriots will play the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII (48). This game is real treat for NFL fans because they are the two best teams in the NFL, both finished as the respective one seeds in their conferences.
Super Bowl 48 is truly unique in that never before in the NFL has the team that finished number one overall in points and yards met the team that finished first in points allowed and yards allowed in a Super Bowl. Five previous times however the top ranked defense has faced the top ranked offense in the Super Bowl with the defense winning four of them. The mantra of defense wins championships will truly be put to the test as this Broncos offense is considered one of the greatest of all time and is led by four time NFL MVP Peyton Manning.
Manning outsmarted his defensive rival in Bill Belicheck throwing for 400 yards and two touchdowns in the AFC championship game. Despite the decline in arm strength from the multiple neck surgeries just two years ago, Manning has been able to get the job done with his brain. Manning’s ability to read defenses and change plays at the line of scrimmage is part of the reason he is so successful, just ask Rex Ryan. The use of screen plays, underneath crossing routes and somewhat questionable pick plays have allowed Manning to work his way down the field in nearly every drive this post season. Peyton loves to pick on the weak links, we saw him attack the Chiefs rookie Marcus Cooper earlier this year, look for him to line different players against Byron Maxwell.
What has also helped Manning this post season has been the impressive work of his offensive line giving Manning more than enough time to find an open receiver. Guard Louis Vasquez has been sensational all season. Tackle Orlando Franklin has been great this post season. With Julius Thomas, Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker at his disposal there will always be a throw that Manning can make. Against a tough Seattle pass rush Manning may not have as much time as he did last week but playing behind a suspect offensive line for many seasons with the Colts, Manning has an incredibly quick release. Manning will always read what the defense is giving him and if that means running he will hand the ball off to Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball.
This Seahawks defense has been strong all season with play makers across the field. The “Legion of Boom” is the best secondary in NFL. The two safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are ball hawks with an uncanny ability to get at the ball in the air. The two combined for 17 tackles, two pass deflections and a interception against the 49ers in the NFC championship game. These two will have the job of containing Julius Thomas but are more than up to the task. Both Vernon Davis and Jimmy Graham were neutralized by these two in these playoffs. Another key component to the Legion is the number one corner in the NFL, Richard Sherman. Put simply, Sherman is a shutdown corner. His only downside is that he only plays the left side so expect Manning to move Demaryius Thomas away from Sherman.
The front seven is stacked with big bodies that make plays. Michael Bennett, a free agent signing at the start of the season, has been a revelation this post season posting one and half sacks and two fumble recoveries. Then there are players that seem to escape a lot of media attention but are elite when it comes to making plays on the quarterback or running back. Bobby Wagner posted an amazing 15 tackles last week and Brandon Mebane is a huge man that requires a lot of attention from the opposing offensive line. Mebane is the second ranked defensive tackle against the run according to Pro Football Focus and thus will be pivotal in forcing the Broncos into long third down conversions.
This game will most likely be won by whoever wins the battle between Peyton Manning and the Legion of the Boom but it is worth noting that the Broncos defense against the Seattle offense should not be undervalued. The Seattle offense finished the season 17th overall offensively (4th in rushing, 26th in passing) and the passing game has been struggling for the last six weeks. The key cog on offense is Marshawn “the beast” Lynch who has been near unstoppable this post season. Last week, against the fourth ranked rush defense of the 49ers, Lynch racked up 109 yards on 22 carries including a 40 yard touchdown run. He faces a Broncos run defense that finished eighth at the end of the season but has really upped their game in the postseason. That is thanks to free agent acquisition Terrance Knighton who demolished the Patriots offensive line last week with one sack and two tackles for a loss.
Key Battle: If Knighton and the rest of that Denver front seven can get through Max Unger and the Seahawks offensive line to limit Lynch’s impact on this game the Broncos can easily win this one. It will be up to Russell Wilson to regain his rhythm from earlier this year and produce a stellar passing performance and against the 27th ranked Broncos passing defense that is now missing Chris Harris. The addition of Percy Harvin may be the offensive spark Seattle needed. Harvin’s blistering pace just has Super Bowl x-factor written all over it.
Watch Out For: The Weather. With a 35% chance of snow, the weather may have a huge impact in this game. We saw earlier this year when the Lions played the Eagles the impact of the snow on a pass first offense. LeSean McCoy had a big day as the Eagles run game took control. If similar weather ensues Marshawn Lynch’s importance would double.
Final Word and Prediction: The biggest city in the world, the biggest name in the NFL, the biggest mouth in the NFL and the biggest game in the NFL. This game has entertainment written all over it. Who wins this one comes down to whether “defense wins championships” and in this case it doesn’t. The Broncos will hoist the Lombardi trophy and Manning will win his second Super Bowl MVP award.
Broncos 27 – 20.
Super Bowl XLVIII provided by US Sports Down Under.
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