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In a season full of surprising twists, turns and endless blown calls by referees, the 48th edition of the Super Bowl is almost here. The NFC champion Seattle Seahawks, who are making their first Super Bowl appearance in eight years, will take on the AFC champion Denver Broncos, led by elite quarterback Peyton Manning.

Both of these teams finished the regular season with 13-3 records, and also had home-field advantage throughout their conference playoffs. However, in the end, only one team will walk out the victor, but the one question that everyone has on their minds is, who will it be?

The Seahawks road to the big game can be largely attributed to having the most dominant defense in the league, ranked first in giving up the least amount of points, yards and passing yards per game. Big-name players like safeties Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, and king of the trash talkers, cornerback Richard Sherman, have had the biggest hand in elevating that status. Speaking of Sherman, everyone at this point is aware of the controversy that followed from his infamous post-NFC championship interview, where he dubbed himself “the best corner in the game,” and called 49ers player Michael Crabtree, “a mediocre receiver.” Though I will admit that Sherman is a great corner, his demeanor toward opposing players on the field sometimes gets on my nerves. However, all the backlash that followed where thousands of people on the internet called him a “thug” for his comments was completely out of line.

Though Seattle’s defense is intimidating, it hasn’t faced a lot of strong offenses, except for the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts. Facing the explosive offense that Denver exudes on a nonstop basis, Seattle’s backfield will certainly be challenged by Peyton Manning and his agile group of receivers. Furthermore, their home-field advantage has played a key role in their 7-1 home record this past season, but playing at Metlife Stadium in the NY/NJ area will thwart that advantage to a degree.

In comparison to their defense though, the Seahawks’ offense isn’t quite on the same level. Sure, quarterback Russell Wilson is one of the most athletic players in the league, and running back Marshawn Lynch can go “Beast Mode” at any time, but there’s never been a stark consistency in the points they total. One game they’ll score over 24 points, but then fail to match more than 20 in the next. Ultimately, more players than just Wilson and Lynch need to step up to higher performance levels, which could open the door for wide receivers Golden Tate and Jermaine Kearse to break through against a Denver secondary that’s uneven in controlling the pass.

The Denver Broncos on the other hand display an offense that’s as talented, if not more than Seattle’s defense. Anchored by quarterback Peyton Manning who broke the regular season passing yards and touchdown records, the team led the league in points, total yards, and passing yards during the regular season, and also broke the single season NFL record for touchdowns and points scored. Known as “The Sheriff” for his pre-snap routine, and also encouraging more people to possibly travel to Omaha in the future, Manning has been an unstoppable force in dismantling opposing teams’ defenses, and has also shaped receivers Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and tight end Julius Thomas into top-notch pass targets. Furthermore, Wes Welker has become even more of a slot receiver extraordinaire than he was as a New England Patriot.

Also even outside their pass game, the Broncos will be able to rely on their solid running back duo of Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball. Though the Seahawks’ defense ranked seventh in the league for stopping the rush, the elusiveness that Moreno and Ball bring in the ground game could create a potential loophole.

However, as potent as Denver’s offense is, it’s their defense that will face the bigger challenge. During both the regular season and playoffs, they’ve failed to force turnovers during the majority of moments that count the most in the game, and also sport a secondary that is prone to giving up deep pass plays. As long as their corners and safeties can step up their overall awareness of receiver routes, then it shouldn’t be a huge challenge at containing Seattle’s offense.

Now with all those aspects thrown together, it’s difficult to predict who will end up winning. With cold temperatures thrown into the mix too, the battle will be ratcheted up even more. In the end though, I’m going to predict the Broncos will win a close one by a score of 27-23. Honestly, the outcome of this year’s Super Bowl could be determined in a multitude of ways, all the better to watch the big game this weekend.

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