Who I Like in Super Bowl XLVIII

Chancellor and Thomas
Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas must play well in order for Seattle to win.

The last two weeks have been about Richard Sherman, Marshawn Lynch and Peyton Manning. Today, we finally get to see all of the other players as the 48th edition of the Super Bowl is played this evening.

When compared to past Super Bowls, these two weeks have been rather tame even though the throng of media has been greater than ever. Much of that is due to the location where the media is literally everywhere you look, but also because the game just continues to grow in terms of a social phenomenon.

Earlier this week I broke down why each team would win Super Bowl XLVIII and now it’s time for me to make my final analysis and pick for the game.

Super Bowl XLVIII Seattle vs. Denver (-3) – Hours after their respective conference title games, the line was established at even but soon shifted to Denver giving three points. This is exactly where it has stayed.

Welker has a tendency to disappeaar in games and this cannot be one of them.

This game features the fifth meeting in Super Bowl history between the NFL’s top-ranked offense and top-ranked defense. In the previous four meetings, the top-ranked defense has prevailed three times. Despite being 1-3, top ranked offenses still have averaged 33 points but that’s a bit misleading. Remember that among those scores used for the four top-scoring offenses is the 55 that San Francisco hung on Denver in Super Bowl XXIV.

There are a lot of directions one can go when analyzing this game and many of them favor Denver which is why about 70% of the wagering action had been on the Broncos. Consider that Peyton Manning 37 touchdowns and no interceptions in the red zone this season and he’s only been sacked three times. It’s incredibly hard to go against that type of statistic and that makes it easier to see why the action is going in their direction.

The gameplan is simple for both teams. For Denver, it’s all about letting Manning dictate things on offense. He rarely throws the ball deeper than 20 yards so I expect Seattle to force him to be more aggressive than he usually wants. If the Broncos, through a combination of the run and pass can stay in third down and short situations then it will be a long day for the Seattle defense.

Offensively for Seattle, the running game behind Marshawn Lynch and an athletic offensive line will be top priority and that won’t change much. I do believe you’ll see the Seahawks use more play-action earlier in the game than normal. This will be in an effort to set up the run and keep the Denver safeties deeper than they’d like to play.

On defense for Denver, they must stop Lynch on first and second down. If they can force Russell Wilson to become a pocket passer that will be OK with them. I don’t expect that to happen however so that means the Broncos will need to contain Wilson when he scrambles or gets on the edge.

Seattle’s defensive gameplan is going to be very intriguing. Will they attempt to blitz Manning at will or will they allow their big secondary to disrupt routes? What Seattle has to be careful of is forgetting about the run because Manning will audible to it if he finds it working.

Both teams have gone under the number in the last five games and that could favor Seattle with the number today being 48. Don’t pay much attention to Seattle’s 3-6 record against the spread in their last nine meetings with Denver because neither QB was playing for his respective team in 2010. This was their last regular season meeting.

I have a strong feeling that someone will make a big special teams play and I think Seattle finds a way to force Denver into field goals. Take Seattle getting the three and take the under. I like Seattle 23-21.