“As a player, it says everything about you if you made the Hall of Fame. But, then again, boy … there’s something about winning a Super Bowl.”

-Terry Bradshaw

No this isn’t about the Rose Bowl-its about my favorite sporting event, the Super Bowl. This is the Masters, the Indy 500, the NBA Finals, the BCS National Title game, everything important, all rolled into one glorious night of football action. The first Super Bowl I ever watched was the Cowboys beating the Steelers in 1996 at Super Bowl XXX and I’ve been hooked from that moment on. Despite viewing some blowouts and some awful Super Bowl games I have not missed a Super Bowl yet, having witnessed the big game by myself, with friends, and with family throughout the years. Super Bowl XLVIII is special for multiple reasons: its the first championship game to feature the top two seeds from both conferences since 2009; the cold outdoor weather that will be a factor; and plus a young rising star in Russell Wilson versus a Hall of Fame bound legend in Peyton Manning. Whoever takes home the prize becomes famous and a legend while the losers are forgotten save for by sports fanatics and trivia buffs. And now for my preview.

Matchups:

*Peyton Manning and that vaulted Denver offense against the top flight Seahawks defense

Richard Sherman despite all of the unfair hate he gets is one of the top corners in the league, and I imagine that Seattle will place him on either Demaryius Thomas or Wes Welker, the two best wide outs that the Broncos have on their roster. However Denver’s defense is underrated as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie anchors the lineup and with veterans such as Champ Bailey leading the way. Weather forecasts aside I like Denver’s chances at moving the ball even though Seattle is going to get their hits in. They are not called “The Legion of Boom” for nothing, and one cannot forget Earl Thomas who is one of the top safeties in the league as well.

*The Battle In The Trenches

Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch is a monster who usually cannot be stopped. Knowshon Moreno is one of the more stable and reliable backs in the league who can run and catch passes at will. Montee Ball gives Denver’s offense an extra edge and will be relied upon by the Broncos to also help protect Manning. The Seahawks offensive line is better than the Broncos because its more healthy and is really good at finding Lynch holes that he can run through. While I like Seattle in this category the fact that Manning is excellent at passing quickly and avoiding sacks through his almost magical pocket presence gives Denver a chance. Still if the Seahawks get their run game going it will help them keep Manning off the field and limit the damage he can do.

*The “X” Factors

Everyone is talking about the weather and its a story beaten completely to death. Unless its raining heavily or a blizzard out there I’m not sure the conditions will really have an impact on the game. Now I consider Eric Decker, a wide receiver who on most teams would be a #1 or #2 guy but who is a #3 or #4 on this ridiculous Broncos roster to be Denver’s “X Factor.” I would like to go with Julius Thomas but I think that the Seahawks will focus heavily on shutting him down-I mean after all they were able to close down Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis on their way to the Super Bowl. If Decker can get open then the Seahawks will discover what my beloved Chiefs found out: you can limit or cover everyone else but if you give Peyton Manning just one guy to throw to, he will burn you all day with that guy.

Meanwhile the Seahawks “X Factor” is Doug Baldwin. Seattle’s wide receiving core is young and has talent despite not getting buzz or press, as they are rather non-flashy. During the NFC Title Game against the 49ers Baldwin was often Russell Wilson’s safety blanket and was also instrumental in setting up several crucial drives that gave the Seahawks defense the chance to close out the win. If he shows up big it really will help Seattle keep Manning off the field. Last I checked you still need to score points to win-at least that’s what John Madden keeps telling us.

Its funny that the Madden simulation of this game had Denver beating Seattle in overtime. That would be fantastic if the big game finally went into extras because its never happened before. I think we are in for a classic, and I originally went with a 9 point spread but I’m limiting it to 4 instead. I’ll go with Denver 27, Seattle 23. And no I did not forget the kickers-Matt Prater and Steven Hauschka are among the best in the game-as it wouldn’t surprise me if it came down to a field goal in the end. I doubt that will happen, but you never know what to expect. I’m hoping the commercials are really good, and I’ll skip the halftime show. Bruno Mars? Yuck. I’m watching for the football anyways.

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