Seattle Seahawks (15-3 SU, 12-6 ATS) vs. Denver Broncos (15-3 SU, 11-6-1 ATS)
NFL Super Bowl XLVIII
Date and Time: Sunday February 2nd, 2014. 6:25PM Eastern
Where: MetLife Stadium East Rutherford, N.J.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Sea +2/Den -2
Over/Under Total: 47.5
Super Bowl XLVIII is on the horizon and this year’s match-up could go down as one of the most anticipated in history when the Denver Broncos collide with the Seattle Seahawks inside MetLife Stadium on February 2nd. Each year the storylines are intriguing as they lead up to Super Sunday but this year’s storylines are as big as ever. The Broncos have statistically established the best offense in NFL history this year behind the arm of Peyton Manning and now the Broncos top rated offense will meet the league’s best defense by way of the Seattle Seahawks with the Lombardi Trophy on the line. The age old saying that offense wins games and defense win Championships will be put to the test when both teams meet inside MetLife Stadium for the first Super Bowl to be played outdoors north of the Mason Dixon Line.
The fact that Super Bowl XLVIII will be played outside in New Jersey is interesting enough considering this will be the first Super Bowl in history to be played outside in an extremely cold location. The elements could become a factor if precipitation of either rain or snow comes into play. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning has been criticized throughout his career for not playing his best in the cold and that will be mentioned often in the upcoming days. If weather does become a factor, many would expect the Seahawks to benefit the most as they are the more physical team as well. However we are still two weeks away from the biggest game of the year and the weather is only a guessing game at this point. Still, bettors should monitor the weather forecast in the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII as it could have a big impact on how things unfold.
Odds makers opened betting lines dead even with Seattle and Denver listed as a ‘pick em’ contest marking just the 2nd instance in the last 30 years the Super Bowl opening odds were less than 3 points between each team. The betting public quickly made their presence felt with nearly 80% of the early action favoring the Broncos. As a result, the line has moved a few points in favor of Denver and the Broncos are currently listed as two point favorites. Luckily for the Seahawks, underdogs have covered 5 of the last 6 Super Bowl’s ATS and won 4 out of 5 of those covers straight up. More importantly Seattle has the defensive talent to challenge the Broncos offense which has not been the case for any of the Denver’s opponents this year. Manning gets most of the deserved credit for Denver’s offensive success. However, the truth is that the Broncos are loaded with weapons starting with receivers Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, and ending with tight end Julius Thomas. Few teams have the defensive backs to slow down 1 or 2 of Denver’s targets, much less all of them.
As a result, Denver’s offense has posted staggering numbers this year racking up the most team yards and points in NFL history. Manning has set NFL records with total touchdowns (59) and total passing yards (6,107). The Broncos have only scored less than 30 points on 3 separate occasions all season and even the defense seems to be currently playing their best football of the season. The Broncos defense has been considered a weak link at times this season but they have played extremely well in the playoffs. Denver held San Diego to just 17 points and stymied New England’s offense holding the Patriots to just 16 points in the AFC Championship Game.
So how does Seattle fare against a Denver team that is seemingly unbeatable? The Seahawks actually fare well mainly because of their defense. The Seahawks not only own the best defense in the NFL this season but their talented pass defense may be the best group the league has seen in several years. Surely by now everyone knows of Seahawks CB Richard Sherman who delivered the infamous NFC Championship postgame speech by bashing 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree. Like him or hate him, the statement that Sherman is the best corner in the league is absolutely true. Not only is Sherman the best corner in the league, but the Seattle defense has two additional 2014 Pro Bowl selections in their secondary as well. Both safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas were selected to this year’s Pro Bowl roster. It is the 2nd time in 3 seasons that Seattle has sent 3 players from their secondary to the Pro Bowl and illustrates the incredible talent they have on defense. Seattle’s elite pass defense should give Manning and the Broncos’ offense their most difficult challenge of the year. This epic showdown of the NFL’s best offense vs. best defense will likely decide the winner of Super Bowl XLVIII and perhaps give us one of the most entertaining big games in recent memory.
The other deciding factor will be when the Broncos defense and Seattle offense square off on the other side of the football. I mentioned earlier how well the Denver’s defense has played in recent weeks. However, I still consider the Seahawks offense the x factor in this game. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is one of the best in the game and he has been huge throughout the playoffs. Lynch broke open a 31 yard touchdown run to put away the Saints and delivered a 40 yard touchdown run against the 49ers to spur the Seahawks 2nd half comeback. Lynch is the workhorse for the Seahawks and when he is able to run the football it really opens things up for quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson completed several big throws in the 2nd half of the NFC Championship Game to finish with 215 yards and a touchdown against the 49ers. It was the first time in weeks that Wilson or the Seahawks passing attack was relatively effective. The offense must get a similar performance from Wilson to sustain some balance and keep the Denver defense from loading the box against Marshawn Lynch. If the Seahawks offense can keep the Broncos’ defense guessing, it will put them into position to take home their first Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: As much as I love the way Seattle’s defense plays the game, I do not expect them to win this football game unless they come up with several big plays. I think both defenses will control the early part of this game but I still believe that talented Seahawks secondary will unravel as Manning keeps the pressure on during the latter stages of Super Bowl XLVIII. I am going with Denver 23-17.
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