It’s not often the two top-seeded teams make it to the NFL’s biggest game, but Denver and Seattle did and will face each other in Super Bowl XLVIII at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium this weekend.
In a sense it’s the offensive powerhouse of the Broncos, who defeated New England, 26-16, in the AFC title game versus the stingy defense of the Seahawks.
The record-setting Denver offense established an NFL standard for points scored as quarterback Peyton Manning also eclipsed the mark for yards with 5,477 and touchdown passes with 55.
Manning’s targets include Demaryius Thomas, who snared 92 passes for 1,430 yards and 14 touchdowns during the regular season, Eric Decker (87 receptions for 1,288 yards with 11 touchdowns), Wes Welker (73 catches for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns) and tight end Julius Thomas (65 receptions for 788 yards with 12 touchdowns).
When Denver runs Knowshon Moreno (1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns) and Montee Ball (559 yards and four touchdowns) will get most of the carries.
Offensively Seattle is more balanced and when the Seahawks run Marshawn Lynch (1,257 yards with 12 touchdowns) will have the football in his hands.
Quarterback Russell Wilson can scramble (539 yards), but will stay in the pocket. Wilson’s numbers weren’t as eye-popping as Manning’s, but he did throw for 3,357 yards with 26 touchdowns.
Wilson will look for Golden Tate (64 catches for 898 yards and five touchdowns), Doug Baldwin (50 receptions for 778 yards with five touchdowns), Jermaine Kearse (22 catches for 346 yards and four touchdowns) and tight end Zach Miller (33 receptions for 387 yards with five touchdowns).
Denver’s defense was led by linebacker Danny Trevathan who had 128 tackles, three interceptions and two sacks, while end Shaun Phillips paced the team with 10 sacks and had one pick, while cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had three interceptions and 31 tackles.
The Broncos’ special team is highly-ranked as kicker Matt Prater nailed 25 of 26 field goals and broke the league record with a 64-yarder, while Trindon Holliday accounted for 775 kick return yards and a score and 271 punt return yards and a score.
The Seahawks have become an elite defensive unit and their secondary is excellent. Leading that group is cornerback Richard Sherman, whose interview with Fox’s Erin Andrews after Seattle’s 23-17 win over San Francisco in the NFC title game caused a stir, and he leads the NFL with eight interceptions, while free safety Earl Thomas has five. Linebacker Bobby Wagner has the most tackles with 120, and end Michael Bennett is first in sacks with 8.5.
In the special teams department Steven Hauschka converted 33 of 35 field goals and has a long of 53 yards, while Kearse added 283 kick return yards.
This game has the elements to be a classic given Denver’s high-powered offense and Seattle’s fierce and hard-hitting defense, and it could be decided if the Seahawks force Manning into mistakes. If they are able to pressure him it could be a long day for the four-time Most Valuable Player despite all the weapons at his disposal. And which team will run the ball more effectively?
It will be tight, but Denver has the edge. The pick: Broncos 31, Seahawks 24.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.