Super Bowl preview

Top-ranked offense and defense collide for NFL title

The NFL is adored by millions of Americans because of the stories that are told throughout games and seasons. For years, the underdog finds a way to capture the heart of America by slaying the seemingly unstoppable force. Whether it is the New York Giants finding a way to beat the undefeated New England Patriots in 2008 or Kurt Warner’s final chance for Super Bowl glory with the Arizona Cardinals in 2009, the underdog always creates a connection between fans.

As fun as seeing “David” slaying “Goliath” can be, sometimes seeing the two best teams throughout the regular season meet for a chance to win the Lombardi Trophy is not such a bad thing.

This season, the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks were the best two teams all season long. Since the first week of the season when Peyton Manning decimated the Baltimore Ravens defense for seven touchdowns, the Broncos appearance in the Super Bowl seemed inevitable.

The Seahawks shared a common record with the Broncos, 13-3, but their path to that record was much different. The Broncos dominated teams with a record-setting offense, averaging 37.9 points per game, while the Seahawks led the league with a scintillating defense, allowing a mere 14.4 points per game.

The clash of styles is perhaps what makes this game as intriguing as any past Super Bowl. Not very often does the best offense face off against the best defense, and we should savor this opportunity to truly see the two best teams duke it out for the title.

When the two best teams collide, the statistics are always thoroughly examined and scrutinized, but in the end, the intangibles are what put one team over the top.

Two completely different characters lead the offense and defense of the Seahawks. Soft-spoken, second-year, quarterback Russell Wilson leads the Seahawks on offense, while the self-proclaimed “best corner in the game,” Richard Sherman, leads the stingy defense.

Ironically, Sherman’s professional wrestling-style postgame interview with Erin Andrews in which he exclaimed, “Don’t talk about me” has become the most talked about story leading up to the Super Bowl. The boisterous claims and remarks have generated even more buzz surrounding his matchup with Manning and the Broncos offense. Some have called Sherman arrogant and classless, leading them to root against the Seahawks, while some were led to root for the Seahawks, applauding Sherman for showing emotion and not giving a cliché postgame interview.

Whether you liked or disliked the Sherman interview, he has generated an interest in a game that some may not have cared about much before.

No matter how much talking is done before the game, what happens on the field is what really matters.

Yes, the Sherman-Manning matchup will be analyzed thousands of times on ESPN leading up to Sunday, but that matchup alone will not decide the game. The Seahawks defense is much more than Sherman, and the Broncos offense is much more than Manning.

Both are just one of 11 men on their respective units. Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Bobby Wagner are also important parts of the top-ranked Seahawks defense, which will be attempting to slow down the lethal receiving core of Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker and Julius Thomas of the Broncos.

However, just like any game that features two evenly matched opponents, the determining factor usually comes down to the unexpected play or player — the x-factor. Who would have predicted David Tyree would catch a football on his helmet, Jacoby Jones to have two touchdowns or the New Orleans Saints to attempt an onside kick to start the second half of a
Super Bowl?

Those unexpected heroes and plays are what make the Super Bowl unlike any other sporting event.

This year, expect the unexpected. Maybe Peyton Manning struggles in the cold weather and Knowshon Moreno runs wild on the Seahawks defense, or maybe Jermaine Kearse catches the game-winning touchdown for the Seahawks yet again.

Whatever the determining factor in the game may be, expect the game to be as competitive as most Super Bowls have been in recent memory. After all the talk and predictions, expect the defense of the Seahawks to be just good enough to squeak by the high-powered offense of the Broncos and walk away as Super Bowl Champions for the first time in franchise history.

Prediction: Seahawks 30, Broncos 27

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