Alas, we’re only about 52 hours away from Super Bowl XLVIII from officially kicking off. It seems like a month since we last saw a real NFL game. No, the Pro Bowl doesn’t count because well, it’s the Pro Bowl. The only thing that’s unfortunate about it being two weeks since the last pro football game, is that Broncos-Seahawks is the final game of the season. Luckily for us, this is the match up that most NFL fans were waiting for. The top two seeds in each conference will bring their contrasting styles of play to the field, a cold field where it will be decided which team is the king of football. But first, we have to set aside all the off the field topics that, in all honesty, won’t matter once the ball is officially kicked off. Let’s forget about Marshawn Lynch’s lack of communication to the media and what Sunday’s game means to Peyton’s legacy. Let’s also forget about how “smart and articulate” Richard Sherman actually is. Let’s also forget about anything and everything that involves some sort of beef between Warren Sapp and Michael Strahan. There’s nothing worse than two retired NFL players, both who spend a lot of time on TV, creating some sort of riff to take the attention away from the actual game itself. I know the Super Bowl is more than “just a football game” but this time around, let’s just focus on what is going to happen on the field.
Most Intriguing Match Up: The obvious choice here is Peyton Manning and his weapons against the Seahawks secondary. It’s pretty plain and simple: the top offense in the league going against the best defense in the league. The four-headed monster (Thomas (2), Welker and Decker) will try and continue their season-long success against the toughest group of pass protectors in the league. Sherman will most likely cover Demarius Thomas the entire game so keep an eye on that for the entire game. How many flags will we see on Seattle? I expect the Seahawks to bring the pressure early, often and at the highest intensity. But despite that very intriguing match up, it’s not the one i’m most interested in. Let’s see how well Seattle’s running game does against the Denver defense. Something sneaky that has not been discussed enough is the fact that Denver has stopped two great running teams (Patriots and Chargers) in their playoff victories this year. Can Marshawn Lynch be effective? How well is Russell Wilson going to be able to use his legs to extend plays and find open receivers? They’re all questions that will be answered in the most interesting match up of the day.
The X Factor: You mean, aside from Percy Harvin? Harvin is probably the x-factor to end all x-factors. He might as well be the host and spokesman for the hit show on Fox. But since he’s too obvious of a choice, we’ll take it to the other team for this one. Little has been said about Knownshon Moreno, the Denver running back, who despite being just as important as any of their receivers, doesn’t get anywhere near the same attention. In case you didn’t know, Sunday’s game will feature some cold weather. No real chance of rain/snow but still, cold and just a bit windy. Guess what that means? More running plays! Moreno will be featured more heavily and because Seattle’s pass defense is especially good in the red zone, watch out for multiple hand-offs when the Broncos are close to the goal line. Manning will be the biggest figure on offense, as usual, but I have a feeling that Moreno will come up with some big plays in key situations. Possibly to run the clock down in the 4th quarter? We might even see #27 on the Broncos break his own world-record for tears shed during a national anthem.
So, who wins?: It’s hard to say. Vegas like the Broncos (-2) but as we know, Vegas is in the business of making money, not predicting the outcome of the game. Initially I thought that Denver would take the win, as they are the better team on paper and are better on offense than any other team ever. Seattle’s defense is excellent BUT the Broncos are better at offense than the Seahawks are at defense. Historically speaking, defense does win championships, we’ve heard it over and over. This trend is true in the Super Bowl and while I don’t know the exact stat, I think the top defense is 9-2 when it comes to the big game. Seattle has all the signs on a championship team: defense, running game, big-play potential. Will that be enough? Yes, Seattle had the best defense in the league but Denver had the best offense of all time. The Broncos broke records left and right, leaving opponents in the dust when trying to figure them out. It has just felt like Manning’s year from start to finish. My immediate gut feeling was that the Broncos would come out on top in a close game and i’m going to stick with my guns. Broncos-24 Seattle-23. Omaha!