After 17 regular-season weeks and three sets of playoff games, our weekly picks series for the 2013-14 NFL season finally comes to a close with our predictions for Super Bowl XLVIII. Both the Broncos and Seahawks have put together terrific seasons, and have provided NFL fans with the first matchup between a pair of #1 playoff seeds since the Saints and Colts played in Super Bowl XLIV.
With both teams bringing 15-3 records into this game, one might expect the picks to be a little more split. However, as you will see shortly, we have a fairly strong consensus that aligns with the current point spread (which has the Broncos currently favored by 3 points).
We're skipping the typical table format for the big game, so you instead get a few sentences from each of us on why we picked the way we did. Leave your picks in the comments, and enjoy the game!
Tex (playoff picks record: 6-4)
In my opinion, I don't see a clear winner between either the Broncos' top offense or the Seahawks' first-ranked defense. I think that it's a wash when Denver has the ball, and that will results in a Broncos point total in the mid- to high-20s. That leaves me to wonder if Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, and company can find their way to 28 points or more. They haven't done that since a week 13 victory over the Saints, when they put up 34. Since then, they've scored 17, 23, 10, 27, 23, and 23. I think they'll need to exceed their recent performance, and the Broncos defense will play well enough to keep them at 23 points for a third straight game.
On a neutral field in perfect conditions, Seattle's league-leading defense would likely be enough to stop Peyton Manning's aerial attack. However, with the weather service predicting harsh winds, both teams will have to ride their ground games. That certainly favors the Seahawks, who possess not only one of the league's elite rushers in Marshawn Lynch, but a backfield that goes three deep.
The Seattle defense will keep Manning and the Broncos under 30 points. Marshawn Lynch will do everything within his power to keep the Seahawks within striking distance, but I don't have much faith in Russell Wilson right now. The Seahawks have been advancing in spite of his poor play, and I think that finally catches up with them against a Broncos defense that seems to make just enough plays to get the win.
I really like Seattle as well, but I see motivational factors (Manning, Champ Bailey) as the emotional boost that will put the Broncos over the hump.
Peyton Manning and the Broncos are on too big of a roll for it to come up one game short. They're a pretty solid team defensively as well, and I'm not sure Seattle will be able to score enough with their mediocre offense to win the game and deny Manning a spot among the all-time greats.
I do believe that Seattle's defense is good enough to slow down the Broncos' high-powered attack, but I do not believe it's good enough to stop them. While Peyton Manning will probably be named MVP, I think it's going to be the ground attack of Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball doing most of the heavy lifting. It really wouldn't surprise me at all to see those two go for 200 total yards combined.
Vermont Cubs Fan (7-3)
Not only have the Seahawks been struggling a bit lately to put teams away, but they now have to contend with a cross-country trip, to a field where the weather will be in Denver's favor. This, combined with the fact that the Broncos didn't have to fight as hard in their conference championship game, gives me the confidence that Denver will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy when all is said and done.
Thanks to everyone for getting their picks in each and every week this season - that's certainly an achievement in and of itself. Thanks also to everyone for reading!