Who: Seattle Seahawks (15-3, NFC) vs Denver Broncos (15-3, AFC)
When: Sunday, February 2nd 2014, 3:30pm PT/4:30pm MT/6:30pm ET
Where: Met Life Stadium (aka The Meadowlands) in East Rutherford, NJ
TV: FOX (National); CTV (Canada)
Local Markets: KCPQ 13 Seattle; KDVR 31 Denver
Announcers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver and Erin Andrews.
Super Sunday- This is as far as you can go in the NFL where one of two teams will emerge as the league champion. The Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos who were both the top seeded teams in their conferences meet in the 48th edition of the mid-winter classic. Seattle has never won the league title in the franchises 37 years in the league while the Denver Broncos have won two SuperBowl titles in their history dating back to 1960. The Broncos titles were in back to back years in 1998 and 1999, also the last two years of QB John Elway’s career. Fast forward 15 seasons and the Broncos are lead by veteran Peyton Manning, who won a ring with the Indianapolis Colts six years ago. Manning has also been on the losing end of the Super Bowl as three years later his Colts were upset by the upstart New Orleans Saints. For the Seattle Seahawks this is their second trip to the big dance. Eight years ago the Seahawks dropped a 21-10 decision to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl 40. The Super Bowl eight years ago was played in Pontiac, Michigan which is a cold weather city. The only difference between that game and the one coming up Sunday is that Ford Field has a roof. Met Life Stadium does not. The forecast for Sunday’s game however is not bad for this time of year in the New York City area with temperatures expected to be in the high 30's. This match-up will feature the NFL’s top offensive team in Denver taking on the NFL’s top defensive team in Seattle. Can Manning’s offense move the ball effectively against a defense which stopped almost anything that moved towards it during the season? Meanwhile, can the Seahawks offense led by QB Russell Wilson be as effective against a Broncos defense that has gotten hot at the right time having shut down the high powered offenses of San Diego and New England to get here? There are a lot of match-ups to look at as this game could by the time it’s over be one of the more exciting Super Bowls played weather not withstanding.
Denver Offense vs Seattle Defense- Manning comes into this game with arguably the best arsenal of offensive weapons that any team NFL has. The Broncos have plenty of game breakers to stretch the field starting with Demaryius Thomas who this season has 92 receptions for 1,430 yards and 14 touchdowns. Eric Decker meanwhile caught 97 of Manning’s passes this season for another 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns. Wes Welker and Julius Thomas meanwhile combined for over 138 receptions this season picking up over 1,500 yards and 22 more touchdowns. Out of the backfield Knowshon Moreno has had a solid season with 13 touchdowns scored, 10 of the touchdowns coming from the rushing variety. Moreno rushed for 1,038 yards this season. The Seattle defense is led by Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright who anchor a group that makes it a point not only to hit but also to make sure their opponents learn a good lesson on what pain is all about. If the Broncos are to be successful against this group they will need to control both possession of the football and the game clock as well and do their best to wear down this unit. It will not be easy as this maybe the one unit in the NFL that can all but shut down a very good Broncos offense corps. Thomas is arguable the league’s defensive player of the year with 105 tackles and 5 interceptions. Sherman has nine interceptions to lead the Seahawks plus one defensive touchdown scored. Byron Maxwell has four interceptions. Whatever Manning does on Sunday, he absolutely needs to keep the football away from and out of the reach of this trio.
Seattle Offense vs Denver Defense- Seahawks QB Wilson is not only a threat with his arm, but can also run when needed and is actually Seattle’s second leading rusher behind Marshawn Lynch. Wilson on the season completed 257 passes 3,357 yards and 26 touchdowns. Wilson has multiple weapons he can get the ball to starting with Golden Tate who was Seattle’s leading receiver with 64 receptions for 898 yards and five touchdowns. Former Raider’s tight end Zach Miller has 33 catches this season with five resulting in touchdowns. Wilson can also get the football to Doug Baldwin who caught 50 passes for 778 yards and five touchdowns. Jermaine Kearse is also a deep threat, and Percy Harvin is expected to be ready to go for the Seahawks as well. Out of the backfield Lynch has proven to be one of the quickest running backs in the business as well as the toughest man to tackle in the league. Lynch this season led the Seahawks in touchdowns scored with 12 and gained 1,287 yards on over 300 rushing attempts. Another running back to keep an eye on is Robert Turbin who can break out of the backfield quick with a strong burst of speed and can spell Lynch when needed. The Broncos defense will certainly have their hands full here. However the Broncos defense after a tough regular season has gotten hot at the right time and is looking to have a third straight strong performance in a game where they will need it the most. Denver’s defense is led by Danny Trevathan, Wesley Woodyard, Duke Ihenacho, Chris Harris, Mike Adams and Shaun Phillips who all lead the league or are near the league lead in solo tackles while assisting on several more. They all have good speed and are quick to the football from the snap. They will need to be to in order to hold Lynch at bay or to a bear minimum of gains. They will also have the difficult task of keeping Seattle QB Wilson from getting out of the box and need to scheme well in order to contain him. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Trevathan and Harris lead the Broncos in interceptions. They will all have the tough task of covering a ready and eager Seahawks receiving corps who will be out to make their mark in NFL history.
Kicking Game/Kick Returning- The Broncos will look to Matt Prater for field goals and extra points after a touchdown. Britton Colquitt handles the punting duties while Trindon Holliday will be in charge of returning both kickoff and punt returns. Meanwhile the Seahawks turn to Steven Hauschka for both field goals and extra points after a touchdown. Jon Ryan handles the punting duties for Seattle while Doug Baldwin has the lions share of kick returning duties on kickoffs and punts.
Kingshark Line- Again, this is one of those games where you can make an argument as to why either team should win and would make some valid points as to why. This match-up may be one of the closer Super Bowl games ever played and should be a fairly competitive one as well. Weather if it should turn bad will be a factor and likely will be anyway if only minimal. A bad weather game generally favors the defenses, which in this case would favor the Seahawks. A decent weather day that though cold is still clear with good field conditions generally favors the offensive teams which would in this case favor the Broncos. In the end I am a fan of experience. It is not the ultimate decider in some games however it is an edge that cannot be overlooked. The Broncos QB Manning has played in big games throughout his professional career and understands what this moment is all about. He will have challenges with the Seattle defense however he has also been around long enough to know how to handle the majority of game situations the Seahawks will throw at him. Wilson is a good QB for Seattle and has a great opportunity here and will do all he can to make the most of it. Manning and his years experience going into this game is worth at least one more touchdown than Wilson. Seattle’s offense did enough to beat both New Orleans and San Francisco, but will need to do a lot more to win this game. Denver will need to do a lot more than anyone has to beat Seattle’s defense. The Broncos have the all around weapons and the experience to get it done when it matters the most. I just can’t see Manning getting outplayed by Wilson here with all due respect to Wilson. The Broncos get it done. Broncos 27 Seahawks 20.
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