Super Bowl XLVIII preview

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

We’re just about a week away from the biggest sporting event in the country, and the 48th edition of the Super Bowl looks to be one of the best matchups between two teams in recent memory. Both teams were picked as huge favorites to make it to the big game before the season even started, and here they are, set to duke it out this Sunday in MetLife Stadium for the right to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

Seattle Seahawks

The NFC champions are a team built around the best defensive unit in the league — one which bested the league in almost every category this season, including least points per game (14.4), least yards per game (273.6) and most takeaways (39). Led by Pro Bowlers Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, the Seattle secondary (colloquially known by many as “The Legion of Boom”) remains the focal point of Sunday’s matchup.

Led by second-year phenom Russell Wilson at quarterback, the Seahawks’ offense isn’t something to overlook. After winning the starting job over Matt Flynn in 2012, Wilson has accumulated two Pro Bowl honors, the Rookie of the Year award in 2012 to go with a 100.6 career passer rating, all in his first two seasons. With a receiving corps that consists of Percy Harvin, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin, the Seahawks love to stretch the field when defenses key in too much on their not-so-secret weapon: Beast Mode, better known as Marshawn Lynch.

The legend of Beast Mode started with a legendary touchdown run against the New Orleans Saints in the 2010 playoffs, in which Lynch broke eight tackles on his way to a game-sealing touchdown that clinched a massive upset for his Seahawks. Look for Seattle to heavily rely on Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch to keep the ball out of Manning’s hands and control the pace of the game against Denver.

Seattle is a team fueled by its young blood. With an average age of 25.31, the Seahawks boast the fourth-youngest roster in the league. It’s a scary thought to realize that this team has yet to realize its full potential.

Primed to make their second Super Bowl appearance, Pete Carroll’s Seattle Seahawks are a team fueled by an unbridled intensity to bring the franchise’s first Lombardi home to the infamous “12th Man” (Seattle’s raucous fanbase).

Denver Broncos

You can’t mention the Denver Broncos without attaching them to one of the greatest players in the history of the game. At 37 years young, Peyton Manning accomplished what is undoubtedly the greatest statistical season by any quarterback in the history of the NFL. On the way to breaking Tom Brady’s single-season touchdown record with 55 in the regular season, Drew Brees’ single-season passing yardage record with 5,477, and tying six other quarterbacks by throwing for seven touchdowns in a single game, Peyton Manning led his Denver Broncos to a 13-3 record in the regular season.

Being in the twilight of his career, who knows if we’ll ever see Manning in the big game again? With only one Super Bowl title to his name, Peyton Manning is searching for one more ring to silence the critics and further cement his legacy as an NFL great, but time is of the essence.

Don’t be so quick to give all the glory to Manning, though. With Julius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas at his command, the Denver Broncos also boast the best receiving corps in the NFL.

One way or another, the Denver offense has found a way to dismantle an opposing defense. With all the attention that Manning and his receivers have garnered, Knowshon Moreno, once regarded as a first-round bust, has led a revitalized Broncos ground attack, rushing for 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. If there’s any offense that can effectively challenge Seattle’s defense, it’s this one.

Led by the wily veteran cornerback Champ Bailey who is making his first Super Bowl appearance, the Denver defense has been missing the presence of their star pass-rusher Von Miller, whose season was cut short due to a torn ACL suffered back in December.

With wins over the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots in the playoffs, the Denver Broncos are headed for their first Super Bowl appearance since 1998. With a victory on Sunday, the Broncos will take home their third Lombardi Trophy.

Matchup to Watch: Denver Offense vs. Seattle Defense

It’s the matchup we’re all looking forward to in this one. Two units that are undoubtedly the cream of the crop at their positions are set to square off. It’s hard to argue with the sentiment that the winner of this matchup will probably decide the outcome of Sunday’s game.

Both sides are going to be doing everything they can to outsmart the other (we’ve heard about Peyton Manning and his “Omaha” calls ad nauseum), and it’s going to be a beautiful thing to watch.

For the Broncos to win this matchup, Peyton Manning has to find a way to open up the running game against the Seahawks. With a front-seven that tends to overcommit to the pass rush, Knowshon Moreno needs to have a good day to open up the passing lanes for Manning.

Forcing Peyton Manning into mistakes is a tall task for anyone to accomplish, but the Seattle D has to be up to the task. Forcing turnovers and keeping Manning under pressure will be crucial.

When the matchup was set, every sportsbook across the nation opened with the Denver Broncos as the slight favorite to win it all.

While the Broncos boast one of the best offenses the NFL has ever seen, the Seahawks will give them everything they can handle.

I’ll take Seattle’s defense over Denver’s offense in a game where temperatures look to dip into the 20s (Peyton Manning is 2-8 in games that feature temperatures below 30 degrees). The Seahawks’ offense, with its potent vertical passing game and power running game also gets the nod over the Broncos’ defense.

Give me the upset in this one.

Seahawks 24 – Broncos 20

MVP: Russell Wilson

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