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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII Preview

It's Super Bowl Sunday.  The talking is almost over.  The game is only hours away.  But, if you have room in your head for one more prediction post, this one will be worth your while.  After three rounds of NFL playoffs, Wild Banshee is 8-2 with predictions.  Here is how I see the big game unfolding.

Seattle vs Denver:  Sunday at 6:25 p.m. EST on FOX.  This game provides us with two extremely contrasting teams.  The Broncos have the league's best offense, a veteran quarterback, and they present themselves in a calm and quiet manner.  The Seahawks have the league's best defense, a young, rising star at quarterback, and they are a brash and bombastic bunch.  The one thing these teams have in common is that they are both really fantastic football teams.  That may seem like an obvious statement since both teams have obviously made it to the Super Bowl.  But neither of these teams squeaked their way into the playoffs and then just got hot.  The Broncos and the Seahawks were both the top seed in their conference.

The Seahawks advanced to the Super Bowl by defeating New Orleans and San Francisco.  As expected, Seattle won those games with defense.  They only mustered 23 points in each game.  The Broncos made it to the Super Bowl by beating the Chargers and the Patriots in the playoffs.  Surprisingly, the Broncos' defense was largely the story of their victories, as well ... particularly the the rush defense.  The Broncos gave up 130 total rushing yards in those two games.  I expect Marshawn Lynch will have more success than the Chargers' and Patriots' running backs had, but I do expect the Broncos to hold him in check.

On the other side of the ball, there is no one aspect of the Broncos offense that the Seahawks defense can focus on.  Denver has a wide array of receivers for Manning to choose from.  Seattle has a great secondary, but it is unreasonable to believe that they will be able to totally stifle this offense.  In addition, the Broncos have proven throughout the playoffs that they are willing and able to run the ball, as well.  Officiating will also be an important part of the game when the Broncos have the ball.  The Seahawks are extremely physical with opposing receivers.  The Broncos are especially fond of pick plays in the passing game.  If and when these calls are made could end up being one of the keys to the outcome of the game.

History tells us that when the league's best defense faces off against the league's best offense in the Super Bowl, it is the defense that prevails.  But, Peyton Manning was not a part of those games.  I do not expect the Broncos to run wild against the Seahawks defense.  But I think Manning will make just enough plays to win a relatively low scoring game.  Denver: 28-24.

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