Super Bowl XLVIII prognosticating


NEW YORK -- As we've heard endlessly, Super Bowl XLVIII is about the L-word: legacy. It is about trash talk and clashing styles, old versus new, a prolific offense against the most dominant defense in more than three decades.

It is about Denver and Seattle, about John Fox and Pete Carroll, about Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson. It is about an aging Champ Bailey finally getting to the big stage. It is about Beast Mode. It is about the Broncos' "5-10 club" against the Seahawks' Legion of Boom.

It is about the weather, about the wind, about New York and New Jersey in wintertime, about playing the NFL's most prestigious game outside in the cold for the first time in 48 years.

Five months after this journey to the Super Bowl began with a game between the defending world champion Ravens and the Broncos, here were are at the finish line. Who will cross it first and what will happen? Take a look.

Manning will throw at Richard Sherman, and not just ducks.

It is asinine to suggest that Manning would abandon half of the field just because of Sherman's cover skills, but it is true that Manning has his lowest completion percentage when throwing outside the right numbers, where Sherman typically lines up.

Manning believes in his receivers. He is not afraid of Sherman. There is a healthy respect for Seattle's accomplished secondary, including Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.

Sherman wrote a column earlier this month for saying Manning throws a lot of "ducks." Manning replied: "I think that's a reach what he's saying there," and added that this season he threw a lot of touchdown ducks and yardage ducks.

Game on.

Even so, the Broncos will have to be very careful in the red zone.

One thing that makes Seattle's secondary so special is its ability to get red-zone turnovers. Including the playoffs, the Seahawks led the NFL with eight red-zone interceptions this season, including most notably Malcolm Smith's interception of Colin Kaepernick in the NFC Championship Game.

"We have a lot of good DBs here," Seahawks safety Earl Thomas said. "We're deep, also. We understand what they're capable of, but that's why we play the games. We're very excited to prove who we are every time we step out [on the field]. This is just a great opportunity, especially on this stage, to show what we're all about."

The moment will not be too big for Wilson.

At times, Seattle's second-year quarterback seems too good to be true. He's everything you want in a franchise quarterback: a diligent worker, dialed in, smart, getting better every day, elusive, and a playmaker. And Wilson has great vision, on and off the field.

"You always hear stories about him, and they're all true," Seahawks center Max Unger said. "He gets in early, he leaves late. I wouldn't be surprised if he has an office in the building within the year."

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