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NFL Match-Up Mania: Super Bowl XLVIII Edition

And so it begins all across America.  People have made plans with family, friends, loved ones, and co-workers.  Fantastic meals and spreads will be set out in homes, restaurants and businesses.  Some more spirited people will even dress up in costume or take off of work the following day in order to recover from this extravaganza’s party fervor that will certainly take those who partake into the late evening.  It’s not Christmas, Thanksgiving, or the 4th of July that is the national holiday in question, but Super Bowl Sunday.

With all the customs and tradition celebrated during this week’s flurry of football festivals, one thing that is a change is that it will take place in the New York/New Jersey area.  It is the furthest north the game has been held in an outdoor environment.  And with the way this year’s winter has brought heavy precipitation, this could be the first “bad weather” championship since the Lombardi era.

But with all the outside elements, factors,  and variables, this — like any other football game — still comes down to a series of Match-Ups.  This final edition of The Student of the Game’s Match-Up Mania for the 2013 season will walk you through the players, people, and pieces who need to win the day for their team to earn a championship ring.

Broncos O-Line vs. Seahawks D-Line

While pressuring the QB is the key to slow any offense, successfully rattling Peyton Manning holds much more utility considering mobility was never his strong point as a young rookie fresh out of the University of Tennessee, let alone as a 37 year old pocket QB with a cervical spinal fusion.

On the surface, DEs Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril make for an intimidating front supported by LBs like 2nd year man Bobby Wagner.  But this Denver O-line, despite  losing starters early to injury, have turned away tough defenses such as the Chiefs who feature 4 Pro Bowlers in LBs Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston as well as DT Dontari Poe pressuring the QB.  With that track record and Manning’s tendency to release the ball in less the 2.5 seconds, a formidable front 7 and a solid protection scheme makes for the kind of trench battle worthy of a Super Bowl.


Broncos Defense vs Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch


As much as we hear about Seattle’s QB, Russell Wilson, in his ascension from a 3rd round pick in 2012 to a starting QB in Super Bowl XLVIII, none of it is possible without the real MVP of the Seahawks, RB Marshawn Lynch.  Known as “Skittles” due to his affection for the candy of the same name, he leaves opponents tasting a rainbow of black and blue with the bruises he administers while running in Beast Mode.

While Denver’s defense is among the most maligned of postseason participants, the truth is that they found a way to stop a Blount from smoking them in a state where that sort of thing is now legal.  New England RBs LaGarette Blount and Stevan Ridley lit up 6 TDs against the Colts in a night where the running game was carrying the Patriots to the AFC Championship Game.  But when Blount and Ridley were summoned to stampede through the Broncos, they had no such luck.

Sure, Lynch and the ‘Hawks are superior to Blount and Ridley or anything else the Pats had to offer on the ground in backs or blockers, but the air support in Wilson passing is far inferior to QB Tom Brady.  If Denver denies the run, the Seattle air attack may not be able to overcome the Mile High club.

Broncos QB Peyton Manning vs. MetLife  Stadium

This venue has been unkind to Manning through many weeks of the 2013 campaign.  In fact it was such a rough go that the Manning in question, Eli, had a career high in interceptions on the year with the New York Giants.  Even before the recently closed regular season, the younger Manning has struggled in his home field at times due to strong crosswinds that occur within the confines of MetLife Stadium.

While Peyton is unequivocally regarded as a better field general than Eli, the junior sibling isn’t a slouch as a 2-time Super Bowl winner and MVP.  And to see a passer of that level struggle in an environment as such can’t be ignored.  Moreover, the weather forecast (sorry, I had to talk about it at some point) as of this posting is calling for precipitation with “ice pellets”.

I don’t mention the ice pellets to be one of these who is bringing the cold into the discussion. The temperature of the air isn’t what’s going to alter the trajectory of the football.  Pellets of ice and wind offering resistance to passes thrown against the defense that lead the 2013 season in takeaways, however,  strikes me as a legitimate concern.

If that takes away the big TD plays down the field, that means RB Knowshon Moreno must have a solid game against a defensive front that we cited earlier as a formidable obstacle.  If the Broncos are one-dimensional on offense, the Broncos may be left out in the cold.

Broncos WR Demaryus Thomas vs. Seattle CB Richard Sherman

Tall talented WR vs. amazing athlete CB, Sherman vs. Thomas is not only a pairing that should be closely observed, but it could be a cornerstone of the coaching plan to try and stop the Bronco’s record breaking offense.

Should Sherman merely lock up with Thomas all night, or should he be put on WR Wes Welker as well?  Then who should cover WR Eric Decker?  And the TE Julius Thomas. . . Is DB Earl Thomas to be devoted to him, or do they risk LB Bobby Wagner to cover the man known as “Orange Julius” to give the secondary help against the potent pass potential?

It’s a myriad of questions that will keep Seattle’s Head Coach Pete Carroll and his staff up all night during the week.  The correct decision could earn a pick 6 while a single mistake could concede a touchdown to Denver.  Provided the weather doesn’t take this element of the game away, I’m looking forward to watching it all go down.

With everything considered, the Seahawks will be without their home crowd representing the “12th man”, but there are  many more factors adversely affecting the Broncos.  27-24 is the final score with Marshawn Lynch finally getting his due as 2014’s Super Bowl MVP.  And we will as fans be listening to Peyton Manning criticism all the way up to the NFL Draft.

Written By:

Kyle Nash — @TheSoTG on Twitter

Founder and host of The Student of the Game show

VP of Operations and Editor for The National Gridiron Network

COO and NFL Contributor for The Sports Chronicles

Special Contributor for Pro Player Insiders



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Kyle NashThe Student of the Game
Host of the Student of The Game Podcast Monday @ 7:30pm EST
Writer for NGSC Sports
Narrator of Sport Symposium on NGSC Sports YouTube Channel.

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