Super Bowl XLVIII: Denver Broncos backed to win close one with Seattle Seahawks
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 01/02/14 4:40pm
Denver Broncos celebrate against San Diego
Super Bowl XLVIII is one of the most eagerly anticipated match-ups in years, with the two No 1 seeds from each conference making it for just the second time in 20 years, but where will the difference be made?
After 298 games in the NFL season, it all comes down to this one at MetLife Stadium between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos to see who will lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and as always with these huge games it all comes down to winning head-to-head battles.
Let's look at some of the big ones...
Manning v Wilson
Pretty obvious place to start, and pretty obvious who holds the edge here - especially with the weather warming up above that dreaded 40F temperature that some feel renders Peyton useless. That's obviously not the case, and after smashing almost every record out of the park he's in red-hot form coming into this.
Wilson is more steady than flash, his numbers aren't the best, but he takes care of the football and can make plays with his legs, but as a second year QB can he go down the field and win a Super Bowl? Not many manage such a feat.
Seattle's main strength on offence is Marshawn Lynch, and not many can stop his charge when he gets into 'Beast Mode' but you can bet Denver will be keyed in to stopping him and forcing Wilson to throw. Still, Lynch has six TDs in six play-off games and five in his last four - that's form you just can't ignore.
Knowshon Moreno has had a belated breakout year for Denver, and with 13TDs this season and Seattle's secondary focused on the receivers I'd expect him to find the end zone, as do the bookies with him being evens to score.
Hard to know where to start with Denver - they're the first team in history to have five offensive players score 10+ TDs, one of them was Moreno, but still with Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker and tight end Julius Thomas they present Seattle's toughest defensive assignment all season.
The Seahawks could have the X-factor with Percy Harvin, who is one of the most explosive in the league if he can last a full game after hip surgery and concussion. A theme during the season has been one of Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin or Jermaine Kearse stepping up with a big play, but will that be enough in a Super Bowl.
Here's where Seattle come into their own, with their Legion of Boom causing havoc all season long. Denver have improved recently though and with Seattle hardly high-octane they'll feel they need just to limit the damage and let Peyton do the rest.
Seattle are fast, furious and fired-up though, and they definitely have the edge in this department, Manning has hardly been in trouble all season but that looks certain to change on Sunday, whether he can handle it will be the big question. Denver's RBs have also had fumble issues and that could be key.
It's obvious, Denver hold the offensive aces and Seattle are the defensive masters, but who will emerge victorious from their eternal struggle? Well the weather will help Denver's cause, especially with no wind. Seattle face a tough question to answer in going right after Manning or trying to cover all the receiving options.
If Manning has time, and Seattle keep giving him the same looks at the line, then he can come out on top and win that second Super Bowl, as Denver's defence will do enough to limit Wilson.