Super Bowl Predictions

Super Bowl XLVIII Preview and Predictions

Broncos

Doug Hendry, Assistant Sports Editor

This year’s Super Bowl between Denver and Seattle is one of a kind in many ways. Not only is it held in the frozen tundra known as MetLife Stadium, but it’s only the second time in the last 20 years that the No. 1 seed from both conferences will compete in the big game. It will be a true test of Denver’s high-octane offense against Seattle’s shutdown defense to see who yields first. Nearly unstoppable this season, I believe Peyton Manning and company will edge out the Seahawks in a close game. Still, there’s no way you can count out Seattle yet. The team was a silent killer before its NFC championship victory over San Francisco, so Seattle has as good of a shot as anybody to win. Nevertheless, here is why the Denver Broncos will secure the Super Bowl XLVIII victory.

We all know how stellar the Seattle secondary was this season, possibly one of the top 10 best defenses of all time. On the flip side, Manning knows exactly how to dissect this defense. CB Richard Sherman, SS Kam Chancellor, and FS Earl Thomas will be ball-hawks, looking for those interceptions and momentum swings. Manning has his own weapons though and should have little difficulty moving the ball. Even if Sherman prevents Demaryius Thomas from making big plays, Manning’s four other weapons will get the ball: Wes Welker, Eric Decker, Julius Thomas, and Knowshon Moreno. These players can be deadly, from big play opportunities to squeaking out first downs to keep the chains moving. We saw through the victories against San Diego and New England that Manning spreads the ball around, and anyone on this offense can score. Manning has racked up 630 yards and four touchdowns in the playoffs and should continue the trend once more. A running game is necessary to balance out the aerial assault, and Moreno has been a blessing for Denver. Running, blocking, and catching out of the backfield, Moreno brings a change of pace to Denver’s hurry-up-offense. For the unsung heroes, giving this offense time to let their plays unfold, Pro Bowl Guard Louis Vasquez leads the offensive line along with Manny Ramirez and Chris Clark. Denver’s league-leading 457.3 yards and history-making 37.9 points per game should keep the Seattle defense busy all night.

The Broncos may not be as superior defensively, especially with linebacker Von Miller out, but don’t underestimate them to get the job done. Their 4-3 base defense is anchored by MLB Wesley Woodyard, and their secondary can still compete with some of the best offenses. Cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie should bring experience to this defense and help force the young but talented Russell Wilson into inaccurate passes through small windows. Shaun Phillips’ 10 sacks leads Denver, and Danny Trevathan has a whopping 128 tackles. The Broncos defense was top 10 this year in yards for a loss, pass deflections, and forced fumbles.

You can’t forget special teams either, as Trindon Holliday should be feared whenever he returns a kickoff. Matt Prater, possibly the best kicker in the game, has no limits to how far he can kick a field goal. If this game comes down to a kicker’s foot, Denver needn’t be worried. Zero Seahawks have played in a Super Bowl, so the lack of experience may hurt them more than most think. I don’t see Wilson doing much against Denver, as he is more of a quarterback that paces the game for Marshawn Lynch and Seattle’s defense. That being said, if Denver can’t stop Lynch’s pounding ground game, it could be a long day for them, but John Fox knows how to coach the game. He knows his team and how his team works to win. I see Denver coming out victorious, making Manning the first quarterback to win a Super Bowl for two different teams.

Prediction: Denver defeats Seattle 27 – 22.

Seahawks

Andrew Arnao, Copy Editor

It’s amazing what a simple post-game interview can do. Ever since Richard Sherman went all-out crazy on national TV, I have seen a lot of people declaring the Seattle Seahawks to be the villains that the Denver Broncos must stop. Not that I can blame them—after all, who doesn’t want to cheer for the NFL’s own Orange and Blue? The Broncos have been an exciting team since the Tim Tebow days, and Peyton Manning has used the formidable talent around him to turn in the most impressive season ever by an NFL quarterback. Winning Super Bowl XLVIII would be the perfect ending to a magical season in Denver, and considering how casually the Broncos tossed aside the Patriots in the AFC title game, it should be a cinch for Manning to earn his second ring.

Not so fast. In their way stands an equally worthy opponent. Sure, the Seahawks haven’t flat-out dominated teams on offense like the Broncos have this year. Yes, Russell Wilson has looked shaky at times during his past few games. And undoubtedly, the Seahawks will be worse off without their substantial home-field advantage, trading in their earthquake-generating fans for what will likely be some chilly temperatures in New Jersey.

I think these criticisms are misleading. While the Seahawks may not have been putting up eye-popping offensive numbers like the Broncos, their defense has been putting up equally impressive numbers all season. The 12-4 Panthers? Held to a mere seven points in Week One. The 12-4 49ers? Three points in Week Two. The 11-5 Saints? Seven points in Week 13. Not to mention a 23-0 shutout of the New York Giants in the very same stadium that Seattle will be playing in on Sunday. I can see the Seahawks’ secondary giving Manning some major headaches and maybe even causing him to make a mistake or two.

While the Seahawks are renowned for their defense, they are no slouches on offense either. Though Wilson made some critical mistakes in the NFC title game, it was his absolutely perfect touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse in the fourth quarter that proved decisive in Seattle’s eventual victory over the 49ers. It can’t be forgotten that Wilson was in the MVP conversation at one point this season and is capable of beating you with his arm or his legs in any given game. And speaking of legs, I can’t neglect to mention a certain running back named Marshawn Lynch. “Beast Mode” has already shredded the 49ers and Saints this postseason, teams that were ranked the third and fourth in the NFL on defense this year. I can only imagine that Denver’s 18th-ranked defense looks as appetizing to Lynch as his weekly dose of Skittles.

Losing their “12th man” home-field advantage will hurt the Seahawks but probably not as much as people think. Peyton Manning and company have enjoyed an equally effective home-field advantage, tiring out opponents who aren’t as used to Denver’s thin atmosphere. Both teams have a 7-1 record at home this season, and I believe both will suffer equally from losing their respective advantages. If anything, Manning has more to lose from playing in New Jersey, if his famed struggles in cold weather are any indication.

My prediction: Manning will continue to put up big points but will be picked off twice, including once by the so-called villain, Sherman. Meanwhile, Wilson will play better against a defense that is far less punishing than the 49ers’, and Lynch will continue to cement his legacy as a post-season force. The Seahawks will put up just enough to edge out the Broncos, continuing Manning’s postseason misfortune and validating pre-season Super Bowl predictions everywhere.

Prediction: Seahawks 31, Broncos 29

 

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