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Continued: Craig: Ten storylines for Super Bowl XLVIII

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

Meanwhile, Denver’s defense is anchored well between the tackles, particularly with Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton, a 6-3, 335-pound boulder with twinkle toes. The unheralded free-agent acquisition from Jacksonville last offseason has helped hold Denver’s playoff opponents to an average of 64.5 yards rushing per game. His sack of Tom Brady on fourth-and-2 in the third quarter of the AFC title game also showed that Pot Roast has some burst as well.

VI Can Denver’s offense be balanced?

There aren’t many rookies to keep an eye on in this game, but one is Broncos running back Montee Ball. With 22 carries for 95 yards (4.3 yards per carry) in two postseason games, the Wisconsin product has helped starter Knowshon Moreno keep defenses off-balance enough to enable Manning to dominate while going virtually untouched in the pocket.

In the playoffs, the Broncos are averaging 31 carries and 39.5 pass attempts. Balance like that makes Manning unbeatable.

VII What will Percy do?

Seahawks receiver Percy Harvin is in the Super Bowl, but the Vikings still are significantly ahead when it comes to the perception of the trade that sent Harvin to Seattle.

The Vikings got three picks in return. One became cornerback Xavier Rhodes (No. 25 overall), who appears to be a starter for years to come. The second helped the Vikings trade back into the first round and select Cordarrelle Patterson, who appears more than capable of replacing Harvin as a receiver and kick returner. And the third pick is a third-rounder in this year’s draft.

Harvin, meanwhile, has played in two games all season because of a hip injury and a concussion. He also has done nothing to disprove the knock on him that he’s a supremely gifted athlete whose 184-pound body can’t withstand its crash-dummy style of play. But what better time to start changing perceptions and earning that $11 million a year than on Super Bowl Sunday?

VIII An X-factor in J. Thomas

The beauty of Manning’s greatness is elevating nobodies to somebodies. The latest greatest example is tight end Julius Thomas. The former fourth-round pick out of Portland State had one catch and one start before this season. But this year, after working with Manning after practice on a regular basis, Thomas had 65 catches for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns.

If the “Legion of Boom” silences Manning’s receivers, look out for the 6-5, 250-pound former nobody to make a name for himself on the game’s biggest stage.

IX What’s the over-under on “Omaha!”?

The Broncos are 2 ½-point favorites. But who bets on just the game anymore?

Here are two of the more unusual things you’re able to place a bet on this week:

• Will the announcers use the word “marijuana” during the game?

• How many times will Manning say “Omaha” during the game? The over-under on Omaha, by the way, is 27 ½.

X Good vs. evil?

  • related content

  • 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...

  • Manning

  • Knighton

  • Sherman

  • 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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