After nearly four months of exciting NFL football, Super Bowl XLVIII is now set. On Feb. 2, the Seattle Seahawks of the NFC will take on the Denver Broncos of the AFC at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Both heavy favorites to reach the big game, each finished with a 13-3 record and secured their respective conference’s top seed. Storming through the playoffs thanks to vaunted home field advantages, the Broncos dismantled the San Diego Chargers and the New England Patriots in the taxing altitude of Denver, while Seattle tossed aside the New Orleans Saints and narrowly beat the San Francisco 49ers with the help of CenturyLink Field’s record-setting crowd noise.
The Broncos and the Seahawks represent the NFL’s old guard and the next generation, respectively, pitting veteran quarterback and future hall-of-famer Peyton Manning against sophomore quarterback sensation Russell Wilson.
The two are separated by both age and playing style — Manning is a classic pocket passer who wins games with his strong, accurate throws while Wilson is a modern mobile quarterback who makes plays with his legs and arm. This dual threat presents new wrinkles for the opposing defenses.
This year’s most important matchup will feature Denver’s league-best offense and Seattle’s league-best defense. Denver boasts a talented receiving corps that helped Manning set a new NFL record with 55 passing touchdowns. Led by Pro-Bowlers Demaryius Thomas at wide receiver and Julius Thomas at tight end and complemented by fellow wide receivers Eric Decker and Wes Welker, Denver recorded over 5,500 receiving yards. On the ground, the Broncos are led by 1,000-yard running back Knowshon Moreno. While the Seahawks are no slouch, Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch both being named to the Pro Bowl means the Broncos will be at a clear advantage offensively.
Denver’s receivers will contend with Seattle’s Pro-Bowl defensive backs, cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Earl Thomas. Sherman and Thomas will prove critical in neutralizing the Broncos’ powerful passing attack.
Sherman nearly singlehandedly punched Seattle’s ticket to the Meadowlands with a late deflection in the end zone to preserve a 23-17 Seahawk victory over San Francisco and could make the difference once again in the Super Bowl if the opportunity presents itself.
This tug-of-war will likely determine who raises the Lombardi trophy. If Denver can overcome Seattle’s tough secondary, they will be well on their way to a third Super Bowl triumph. However, if Seattle’s defense can disrupt Manning and his receivers and Wilson can take advantage on offense, then the Seahawks could finally achieve their first Super Bowl victory. Regardless of the final score, this year’s Super Bowl will certainly not disappoint.
Charles Surette is a staff writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.