The day that all football fans have been waiting for is finally here. It's time to put all of the storylines aside and find out who the champion of the NFL truly is. The talk leading up to this years Super Bowl has not been scarce. With the NFL's best offense taking on its best defense, there are many elements of this game to look forward to. Will Peyton take over the game and prove he can win another big one? Will Richard Sherman make a game altering play? (and more importantly, what will he say if he does?) I have listed some key factors to the game which I believe could drastically shape the outcome. Look for these matchups throughout the game, and for which team can win them. Whoever can take control of these, just may be holding up the Lombardi trophy when it is all said and done.
Broncos D-Line vs. Marshawn Lynch
The Seahawks offense runs through Lynch. They are great at using him to set up their play action game. He is also pretty good at running the football (I mean, they don't call him "Beast Mode" for nothing). He is a very powerful, crafty runner who can break any arm tackle thrown at him. If he gets going, it could be a long day for the Broncos defense. So what can Denver do to contain him? If they're smart, they'll watch and use the film of the NFC Championship game. While Lynch ran for 109 yards against the 49ers, he really did not have a great game. If you'll recall, he ran for a 40 yard touchdown which really skewed his average for the day. Take away that run, and Lynch ran for only 69 yards on 21 carries. I can guarantee you that that's a stat that the Broncos would love to see. So how did San Francisco contain him? Their D-Line was the key factor in this one. If you see any highlights of the game, pay attention to where they were lining up on virtually every snap. As you can see to the right, they were lined up at least a yard or more off the ball multiple times. This allowed them to do a couple of things. First, it gave them extra time to see where the holes were opening up and where Lynch was heading. Also it allowed them to get more momentum and leverage at the point of contact. With a powerful running back like Lynch, every yard really does help. The Broncos would be smart to mirror this technique used by San Francisco. I will be looking for this from the Seahawks first snap of the game, to their last. It could be the difference in Denver stopping Seattle's potent offense.Julius Thomas has been nearly impossible to stop all year.
Julius Thomas burst on to the scene as one of the best Tight Ends in the NFL this year. He seemed unstoppable multiple times during the season and was yet another weapon added to the Broncos offense. He was helped by Peyton Manning who is known as a great TE quarterback. He is able to throw his receivers open, and when he is presented with an even bigger target in Thomas, it becomes much easier. The question with these dominant TEs is who are you going to get to cover them. A typical NFL linebacker is going to be to slow to keep up with Thomas. A defensive back is going to be quick enough, but is usually going to give up too much size and may be useless. The Seahawks will more than likely be using SS Kam Chancellor to guard Thomas for most of the day. Julius Thomas is listed at 6'5'', 250 pounds, so Chancellor's 6'3'', 230 pound frame will not be much smaller. He is known as a very physical safety, which is ideal for stopping a player like this. The Seahawks have been terrorizing opposing Tight Ends so far in the 2014 playoffs. Against the Saints, they held Jimmy Graham (believed by some to be the best TE in the NFL) to only 1 catch for 8 yards. They followed up that impressive performance by holding Vernon Davis to 2 catches for 16 yards in the NFC Championship game. If they can repeat this dominance against Denver, they could be in a good position to outscore the Broncos offense.
X-Factor: Impact of Percy HarvinCan he stay healthy?
Prediction: Broncos 34, Seahawks 31