Craig: Ten storylines for Super Bowl XLVIII

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 26, 2014 - 8:13 PM

Want some Super Bowl intrigue?  Here are X — 10, that is — developments to follow.

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FILE - In this Jan. 15, 2014 file photo, the NFL logo at midfield of MetLife Stadium is illuminated by lights on television reporters' videocameras as members of the media are given a tour under a tarp used by crews to keep the turf dry ahead of Super Bowl XLVIII in East Rutherford, N.J. As the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks prep for their Feb. 2, 2014 showdown in the Super Bowl, a legal fight is playing out over the very turf installed months ago at the NFL title game's venue. Taylor Turf Installation Inc. is suing the MetLife Stadium's operators and the company that hired the suburban St. Louis company, seeking more than $292,000 that Taylor Turf claims it still is owed for hustling to install the stadium's playing surface last summer. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

Photo: Julio Cortez, ASSOCIATED PRESS - AP

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Twas the Sunday before Super Bowl XLVIII and we’ve neither seen nor heard Chris Berman. But do not worry, the NFL hype will soon make us all sick and tired of Richard Sherman.

Potentially one of the best matchups in Super Bowl history — Peyton Manning and Denver’s record-setting offense vs. Seattle’s No. 1-ranked defense led by Sherman and the “Legion of Boom” secondary — is a week away. Before Sherman — the loud, controversial, trash-talking and, oh yeah, tremendously talented cornerback — opens his mouth and swallows the Big Apple with 180 minutes of media access over three days, let’s take this quiet moment to look at X story lines for the big game:

I No. 1 offense vs. No. 1 defense

Manning and the league’s first 600-point offense faces a defense that ranked No. 1 in numerous categories, including points allowed (14.4) and passer rating (63.4).

Only five times since 1970 has the No. 1 offense met the No. 1 defense in the Super Bowl. The top defense has prevailed four times: Super Bowls XIII (Pittsburgh over Dallas, 35-31), XIX (San Francisco over Miami, 38-16), XXV (Giants over Buffalo, 20-19) and XXXVII (Tampa Bay over Oakland, 48-21).

The top offense won Super Bowl XXIV when the 49ers beat the Broncos 55-10.

II League MVP vs. Cap MVP

With league records for passing yards (5,477) and touchdown passes (55), Manning will extend his record with a fifth league MVP award on Saturday night. But if you are looking for the best value from a salary cap standpoint, look no further than Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

While Manning counts as $17.5 million against the salary cap, Wilson weighs in at a mere $690,000. And that, folks, is how Seattle has the best of both worlds: an elite quarterback and the cap space to stockpile quality and depth at every other position.

III Man vs. Mother Nature

The forecast for the first Super Bowl played outdoors at a cold-weather site is a high of 36, a low of 24 and a 30 percent chance of snow. Sounds like summer around these parts.

Fans at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., will receive a hat, lip balm, ear muffs, mittens, a cup holder, a radio, hand warmers, a seat cushion, a waist-wrap with hand pockets and tissues. No word on whether the fans will have to wipe their own noses.

IV Press coverage vs. pick plays

Last week, Patriots coach Bill Belichick accused former Patriot and current Broncos receiver Wes Welker of intentionally trying to injure New England cornerback Aqib Talib on a pick play in the AFC Championship Game.

The Seahawks better get ready for an even heavier dose of picks from bunched-up receiver sets. That’s offensive coordinator Adam Gase’s best strategy against a defense that has giant defensive backs who thrive on old-school power, press coverage and intimidation.

V “Beast Mode” vs. “Pot Roast”

Two of the better nicknames in Super Bowl history will bang helmets all day.

As good as Wilson is, Seattle’s identity is better defined by the tough between-the-tackle power of Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch. He had 22 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown in the NFC title victory over the 49ers.

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  • In this photograph taken with a fisheye lens, snow is accumulated on the seats and on the field of MetLife Stadium as crews removed snow ahead of Super Bowl XLVIII following a snowstorm, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. Super Bowl XLVIII, which will be played between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 2, will be the first NFL title game held outdoors in a city where it snows. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

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Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: E. Volquez 1
LA Angels - WP: T. Skaggs 7 FINAL
Washington - LP: T. Jordan 2
Kansas City - WP: J. Shields 8 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: D. Salazar 2
Baltimore - LP: E. Meek 3 FINAL
Toronto - WP: S. Delabar 9
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Leesman 6 FINAL
Detroit - WP: J. Verlander 8
St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: D. Gee 0
Miami - WP: J. Fernandez 1 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Wood 0
Minnesota - LP: K. Gibson 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: D. Price 7
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 9 FINAL
Boston - LP: J. Lester 3
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Hammel 9
San Diego - WP: D. Roach 2 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: A. Figaro 1
San Francisco - LP: M. Bumgarner 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: F. Morales 2
Texas - WP: A. Ogando 5 FINAL
Oakland - LP: L. Gregerson 4
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 5 FINAL
Seattle - LP: E. Ramirez 2
Philadelphia - WP: A. Bastardo 3 FINAL
Los Angeles - LP: J. Howell 2
Atlanta 85 FINAL
Indiana 101
Brooklyn 95 FINAL
Toronto 100
Washington 101 FINAL
Chicago 99
Tampa Bay 3 FINAL
Montreal 4
Boston 3 FINAL
Detroit 0
NY Rangers 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 1
San Jose 4 FINAL(OT)
Los Angeles 3
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

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