Super Bowl XLVIII: A Contrast of Styles

It’s finally here. After five months of hard-nosed, hotly-contested football, the national championship has arrived. And while the two teams that will compete for the Lombardi Trophy each come from the Western division of their respective conferences, there couldn’t be more differences between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. Before I get into my prediction for Sunday’s Showdown, lets take a look at a few of the matchups between these two teams:

Demaryius Thomas vs. Richard Sherman. Sherman may have a big mouth, but it is clearly backed up by his play on the field. The cornerback out of Stanford has made a habit this year of shutting down opposing number one wide receivers. Sherman’s got it all, from athleticism to agility, a brilliant football mind and the ability to get into the opposing player’s head. Thomas will be no easy test for Sherman. Thomas is both big and quick, in addition to clearly being in sync with Peyton Manning, but this is nothing the boisterous safety from Seattle can’t handle. Advantage: Sherman.

Marshawn Lynch vs. Broncos run defense. Lynch has topped 100 yards in each of the two postseason games that Seattle has played this year, so this seems like a no brainer. I would beg to differ. The Broncos defense has been surprisingly stellar recently, holding opponents to under 20 points each of the last four games. With temperatures in New Jersey expected to be in the low 30s during game time, I don’t expect the Broncos to honor Russell Wilson and the passing game. Look for the Broncos to bring more defenders into the box to try to slow down the explosive Lynch. If Wilson can’t make the Broncos pay for disrespecting him, it may be a difficult night for Lynch. Advantage: Broncos.

Halftime: Bruno Mars vs. Red Hot Chili Peppers.Easy. Advantage: Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Peyton Manning vs. Temperatures Below Freezing.Manning’s struggles in the cold have been well documented. This Broncos offense is one that thrives off of the passing game and it is quite possible that the weather in East Rutherford will disrupt that. Don’t discount running back Knowshon Moreno, though. The shifty back will provide Manning with some easy screens and short passes if he is uncomfortable throwing the ball down the field. Regardless, the weather, plus a very talented Seattle defense, should cause some trouble for Manning. Advantage: Weather.

Seattle Wide Receivers vs. Denver Secondary. This is an easy one.  Even though it looks as if Percy Harvin will be active on Sunday, I can’t see this Seattle receiving core getting by the Denver secondary boasting the likes of James Ihedigbo, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Champ Bailey. As mentioned before, it will be cold in New Jersey on Sunday, and Russell Wilson has been inconsistent of late. Even if Harvin makes an impact in the game, Golden Tate and Sidney Rice shouldn’t scare the Denver defense. Advantage: Denver Secondary.

Both teams are talented and well coached, there is no doubt about that. They both deserve to be in the title game and either one of them could very well be waking up Monday morning as the Super Bowl champion. The Broncos have the better offense. The Seahawks the better defense. But many questions remain. How will Manning play in the cold? How will the Seahawks play away from Seattle and the “Legion of Boom?” Who will rise to the occasion and who will fall?

My prediction is that Peyton Manning marches into his brother’s home field and wins his second Super Bowl. I expect this game to be close throughout and rather low scoring, but if the game is close in the final minutes, I trust Manning to lead his Broncos down the field for a game winning score. I see Manning finding wide receiver Eric Decker with one minute left to take the lead; Broncos win 20-17 as Russell Wilson’s attempt to tie game falls short in the final seconds. Enjoy the commercials, enjoy the game and, as Terrell Owens would say, “get your popcorn ready!”

Contact David Josselsohn at [email protected]