Pete Camarillo – Seattle Seahawks
Many think Sunday’s game will be determined by the match-up between Denver’s wide receivers against the Seahawks’ defensive backs. The “Legion of Boom,” as Seattle’s secondary is called, would not exist without the defensive linemen up front.
The Super Bowl will be determined by who wins the battle in the trenches. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning has not been sacked one time this postseason. Seattle will change that as they have too much depth on their defensive line for the Broncos’ offensive linemen to match.
Despite being without Broncos’ All-Pro Tackle Ryan Clady for most of the season, Denver’s offensive line has surrendered only 18 sacks and less than 40 hurries this season, according to Advanced NFL Stats.
However, Seattle’s standout defensive ends have a combined 24 sacks .Defensive tackles Tony McDaniels and Clinton McDonald will be key to stopping the Broncos rushing attack. McDonald has six sacks as well and will also need to push Manning out of the pocket.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s running ability will make the difference for Seattle in the fourth quarter, as he will be key in extending offensive drives and keeping Manning off the field.
The Seahawks will prevail, 24-17.
Brian Bernstein – Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos will win Super Bowl XLVIII because they have the experience factor it takes to win.
According to ESPN NFL Insider, the Seattle Seahawks are the first team since the 1990 Buffalo Bills to reach the big game with the least amount of Super Bowl experience. Only fifth-option wide receiver Ricardo Lockette has played in the big game.
Denver has a handful of players who have won a ring, which bodes well for any team. Manning and Wes Welker anchor the team in experience with a combined four appearances in the Super Bowl, while head coach John Fox led the Carolina Panthers there in the 2003-04 season.
While Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is bringing over his loose, fun antics we have all been accustomed to since his days at USC, understanding how to manage a Super Bowl is far different than calling a BCS game.
Seattle’s biggest worry will be trying to contain Denver’s offense to under 21 points. Cornerback Richard Sherman may not have as stellar of a game that Seahawks fans are hoping for because Manning may not try to force any throws to receivers who are covered by arguably the best cornerback in the NFL.
Seattle has enough offensive firepower to stay with Manning and the Broncos. If the Denver defense can contain running back Marshawn Lynch and force quarterback Russell Wilson to beat them with his arm, they have a solid chance of raising the Lombardi Trophy.
This game will be far from a rout, but the Denver Broncos will win by 10 points and give Peyton Manning his second Super Bowl ring.
Rohit Ghosh – Seattle Seahawks
In a game with no clear favorite, turnover margin becomes especially important for both teams. Projected weather conditions will determine Sunday’s victor.
The game will come down to running back Knowshon Moreno’s ball-handling abilities, as he has just one fumble all season. His success on the ground will keep Seattle’s defensive line and secondary guessing. Any lack of production from the ground game will allow Seattle’s strong defense to hone in on Manning and his receivers.
For Seattle, its Super Bowl hopes will come down to their defense’s potential to create turnovers, and running back Marshawn Lynch’s knack for getting yards after contact.
According to Pro Football Focus, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning averages nearly 15 pass attempts per drop by a receiver– more efficient than the likes of Pro Bowl quarterbacks Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford and Drew Brees. Rather than focusing on a big interception, Seattle’s secondary must stick to their coverage and not let Denver’s offense get into any sort of flow.
The Seahawks know exactly what they have in Lynch – a matchup nightmare who has averaged 93.3 rushing yards per game in the postseason, according to ESPN.com’s Stats & Info. Since 2010, Lynch has averaged a league-best 2.8 yards per rush after contact. The Broncos, under head coach John Fox, have been known to limit success on the ground, giving up an average of just 64.5 yards rushing in the 2014 postseason.
In theory, the score should be fairly low given the potentially poor weather conditions. Expect the teams to make adjustments in the second half, opening the door for some big-time plays. 30-26, Seattle.
James Waters – Denver Broncos
In a battle of No. 1 seeds, The game will narrow down to the effectiveness of Seattle’s defense versus the Broncos’ potent offensive attack. Quarterback Peyton Manning ended the regular season as the league leader in passing yards and touchdowns but will be facing a Seahawk secondary known as the “No Fly Zone,” which allowed only 172 passing yards per game.
Seattle is no slouch on offense. Quarterback Russell Wilson can extend plays with his feet and has shown remarkable poise for a second-year starter while running back Marshawn Lynch is known for not going down easy. Wide receiver Percy Harvin’s questionable health is a big impact to their passing attack, as one devastating hit could change the Seahawks offensive gameplan.
Denver’s defense has played remarkably well in the postseason, containing Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers in the Divisional round and shutting down the New England Patriots’ bruiser half back LeGarrette Blount in the AFC Championship.
The key in this potentially low-scoring cold weather matchup is going to be who can play with the fewest mistakes. Wilson is a young leader who has a higher chance of making a mistake when the game comes down to the wire.
The matchup should remain close until the bitter end with the difference maker being the poise of Manning and his ability to spread around the ball to win the game late in the fourth quarter. 21-17, Denver Broncos.