Super Bowl XLVIII prognosticating

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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 TheMMQB.com 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."

A year ago, Wilson went to New Orleans for the Super Bowl between Baltimore and San Francisco. A lot of players go to the site of the Super Bowl, push a product or two, make the rounds on radio row, and then bounce out of town before the game. Wilson went for the game. He wanted to feel how the extended pregame and halftime festivities affected the normal rhythm of the game, because Wilson believed the Seahawks would be in North Jersey for Super Bowl XLVIII.

"I'm big into visualizing, and this moment right here is exactly what I visualized," Wilson said.

Wilson has been preparing for this moment for more than a year. He will be ready.

The most important offensive player on the field for Seattle will be Marshawn Lynch.

Seattle's receivers have grown tired of answering questions about Percy Harvin and his availability all season. Harvin dealt with a hip injury and concussion and has been limited to a handful of snaps this season, but he has been cleared for Sunday.

The bigger concern for the Broncos' defense should be Lynch, who rushed for 1,257 yards during the regular season.

Lynch runs hard and speaks little. He can help the Seahawks control the clock and keep Manning and the Broncos' offense off the field. Lynch must be effective for Seattle to keep the game close.

"Everything I do on the field," Lynch said, "is just reaction."

Beast Mode must be in full effect Sunday.

Lynch gets the attention, even though he doesn't want it, but don't sleep on Knowshon Moreno.

Denver's offense is known for its passing attack, with five players having caught at least 10 touchdown passes from Manning during the regular season. But the passing offense opens up the running game for Moreno.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Broncos have run 941 plays out of sets with at least three wide receivers this season, including the playoffs, by far the most in the NFL. As a result, 80.6 percent of Moreno's rushes have come with six or fewer defenders in the box, by far the highest percentage in the league.

Moreno averaged 4.5 yards per rush and scored seven touchdowns in those situations. Seattle will have to respect the Broncos' passing game, which should open things up for Moreno.

Denver left tackle Chris Clark will have his hands full, but what's new?

That has been the story all season for Clark, who replaced left tackle Ryan Clady, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, in September. Clark and the Broncos' offensive line have done a stellar job keeping Manning upright, allowing zero sacks in the postseason.

Clark will face a steady barrage of pass-rushers Sunday, with most likely a rotation that includes Seahawks defensive ends Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril and outside linebacker Bruce Irvin. If Clark can continue to effectively protect Manning's blind side, that will go a long way in determining the Broncos' success.

The weather could be a factor, but not an overwhelming one.

The forecast for Sunday is for a high temperature in the 40s and a low around the freezing mark, which isn't so bad given the severe weather in the Northeast during the past month.

Manning is 8-11 when playing outside in temperatures below 40 degrees. In his previous two times facing the No. 1 scoring defense outside in the playoffs, Manning threw one touchdown pass and six interceptions while completing fewer than half of his pass attempts.

The higher the game-time temperature, the better it will be for Denver.

If the game comes down to a kicker, take your pick.

Both Denver's Matt Prater and Seattle's Steven Hauschka have had awesome seasons. Prater made 25 of 26 field goals during the regular season, including an NFL-record 64-yarder against Tennessee. He was 4-of-4, including a 54-yarder, in the AFC title game against New England.

Hauschka was 33-of-35 during the regular season and 6-of-6 in the playoffs.

Both are clutch. Both can make long kicks. They're friends and former teammates. With the game on the line, you can't go wrong with either.

Manning will be Super Bowl MVP.

The absurd legacy talk will end Sunday night with Manning hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and being named the game's MVP. A day after winning his fifth league MVP award, Manning will become the first quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two different teams.

Some legacy.

Pete Carroll said it best Thursday: "We may play exceeding well and still not beat them."

Denver 27, Seattle 20.

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