The Call: Super Bowl XLVIII

  • Updated: February 1, 2014 - 8:25 PM
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The Empire State Building, top, backdrops Roman numerals for the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game standing during sunrise at Pier A Park in Hoboken, N.J., Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. The Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos are scheduled to play on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Photo: Julio Cortez • Associated Press; Star Tribune illustration,

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players to watch

PEYTON MANNING

BRONCOS QB

Talk about a stressful 60 minutes of football. A record five-time league MVP and one-time Super Bowl winner actually needs to win this game to be remembered as having lived up to his full potential. Fair? No. Reality? You betcha. A win would tie little brother Eli in Super Bowl victories and move him within one of Tom Brady with still enough time to even the score with his career-long nemesis. A loss and, well, the record season and a great career will be always — and wrongly — include a “yeah, but …”

RUSSELL WILSON • SEAHAWKS QB

On the flip side, there’s no historical pressure on Wilson beyond the usual Super Bowl stress. Wilson, 25, is a former third-round draft pick who already has more regular-season wins (24) than any other second-year quarterback in NFL history. But his unflappable poise and extraordinary ability to elude tackles, extend plays and make crisp, on-time throws down the field will be tested early. When the jitters are fresh, that’s when passes from young QBs tend to do the Super Bowl sail.

TERRANCE KNIGHTON • BRONCOS Dt

The focus this week has been on Manning vs. Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” secondary. But what about “Pot Roast” (Knighton) vs. “Beast Mode” (Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch)? Seattle’s a run- oriented team with a wild man running the ball. Lynch is averaging 5.0 yards per postseason carry. “Pot Roast” is a giant mound of flesh and muscle smack dab in the middle of a run defense that’s allowing a postseason-low 64.5 yards per game.

RICHARD SHERMAN • SEAHAWKS cb

The self-proclaimed best cornerback in the world now has to prove it while facing a legendary quarterback and an offense that had a record four receivers catch at least 10 touchdowns. Sherman kept his mouth under control for the most part this week, but he did slip by saying Manning tends to throw “ducks.” He was right, of course, but it still became sensationalized.

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keys to the game

WHO’S MORE PHYSICAL?

Typically, the conversation about the physical battle is contained to the line of scrimmage. But this game could come down to the hand-to-hand confrontations between Seattle’s oversized cornerbacks and aggressive safeties and Denver’s receivers and tight ends. Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase uses well-designed bunch sets that allow receivers and tight ends to beat man coverage with legal and sometimes questionable pick plays. If Seattle can disrupt that, it will affect the rhythm that makes Manning, well, Manning.

CAN DENVER CONTAIN LYNCH?

Now this is a traditional conversation about a physical battle. Seattle must control the game with its running game to keep Manning off the field. If Denver’s defense, which has been gaining momentum since December, can stay stout in the middle with Knighton as the anchor, the Broncos’ other defenders will be able to swarm to Lynch. And the only way to bring this wild-eyed runner down is with a swarm. If you notice Denver’s D-line moving backward, get ready to see less of Peyton Manning.

WHAT ABOUT PERCY?

Seahawks receiver-kick returner Percy Harvin will be perhaps the best athlete on the field. But the former Viking also has played only 39 snaps in two games during his first year in Seattle. Is that a good thing because he’s finally healthy and his legs are fresh? Or will he be rusty and prone to further injury? Harvin’s only regular-season action came against the Vikings. He played only 20 snaps, but both touches — one catch, one kickoff return — were turning points in a 40-21 Seahawks rout.

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unsung heroes

* MANNY RAMIREZ • broncos center

Ramirez is one of three Super Bowl XLVIII participants who were on the Lions team that went 0-16 in 2008. He’s also a 12-year veteran who is in his first season playing center. The former guard and third-string center was bumped up to the front line at a new position when injuries to other players created a need in the offseason. Few will watch anything he does Sunday, but he has the pressure of keeping the front of the passing pocket clean and coordinating his line calls with all of Manning’s pre-snap changes.

STEVEN HAUSCHKA • seahawks kicker

He has suited up for six NFL teams and one UFL team since joining the Vikings as an undrafted rookie in 2008. Hauschka was released that summer but bounced around the league, even spending part of a season with Denver when Matt Prater was injured. Lost in the shadows of Seattle’s “Beast Mode” and “Legion of Boom” talk is a kicker who made a career-high 33 of 35 field goal attempts (94.3 percent).

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bold

prediction

This has been a predictable but still exciting NFL postseason. We predicted Seattle over Denver here at the start of the playoffs, and we’ll stick to that. Admittedly, it’s not easy to pick against Peyton Manning when he’s at the peak of his career. But Seattle has the defense that will disrupt pass routes, which will throw Manning off rhythm just enough for Seattle’s pass rush to catch up to the speed at which Manning’s mind works.

Seahawks 31, Broncos 28









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  • Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) walks off the field after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group/MCT) ORG XMIT: 1147276

  • The Vince Lombardi Trophy is displayed between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos helmets before a news conference Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, in New York. The Seahawks and the Broncos are scheduled to play in the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game on Sunday, Feb. 2, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Denver Broncos guard Manny Ramirez takes part in drills at the team's training camp in Englewood, Colo., on Friday, July 27, 2012. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) ORG XMIT: OTKDZ117

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Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 39 3rd Qtr
Washington 56
Orlando 54 3rd Qtr 11:10
Charlotte 45
Memphis 33 2nd Qtr 8:56
Miami 24
Indiana 4 1st Qtr 9:40
Brooklyn 9
New Orleans 4 1st Qtr 8:56
Chicago 7
Atlanta 7:30 PM
Milwaukee
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Utah
New York 9:00 PM
Sacramento
Minnesota 9:30 PM
Golden State
NY Islanders 1 2nd Prd 12:17
Buffalo 0
Detroit 1 2nd Prd 17:03
Ottawa 1
Carolina 0 2nd Prd 13:28
Tampa Bay 1
New Jersey 0 2nd Prd 13:09
NY Rangers 1
Boston 1 2nd Prd 15:29
Columbus 2
Winnipeg 0 2nd Prd 18:57
Minnesota 1
Washington 1 2nd Prd
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 1 1st Prd 16:35
St. Louis 1
Philadelphia 0 1st Prd 16:53
Nashville 0
Anaheim 0 1st Prd 16:15
Arizona 0
Chicago 8:00 PM
Colorado
Edmonton 9:00 PM
Calgary
San Jose 9:00 PM
Los Angeles
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
UAB 58 FINAL
North Carolina 89
IUPUI 55 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 83 2nd Half 0:35
BYU 77
Mercer 62 2nd OT
Georgia 62
San Francisco 77 FINAL
Pacific 71
Wright State 24 2nd Half 17:01
Ohio State 53
Presbyterian 32 2nd Half
Virginia Tech 45
Brescia 2 1st Half 15:37
Western Ky 11
Tennessee St 7:30 PM
Tennessee
Kennesaw St 8:00 PM
Illinois
Colorado State 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Portland 8:00 PM
San Diego
Wayland Baptist 8:05 PM
Utah State
Bristol University 8:05 PM
Weber State
Sacramento St 8:05 PM
Utah Valley U
Southern Utah 9:00 PM
UNLV
SD Christian 9:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 24 4th Qtr 0:15
Penn State 24
(25) Nebraska 0 1st Qtr 13:47
(24) USC 0
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
SMU 45 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 96
UCF 64 FINAL
Houston 50
BYU 62 FINAL
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 62 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
San Diego 8 1st Half 15:34
Portland 6
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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