Who is in the best position to shine brightest on Super Sunday?
A new NFL champion will be crowned Sunday night during Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium as the most-watched sport in the nation takes its biggest stage of the year. Besides more than likely hoisting the Lombardi Trophy once the game is over, the MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII will reap some other enviable rewards.
For starters, he will be presented with a Super Bowl MVP trophy along with a new GMC vehicle. Joe Flacco, last year’s Super Bowl MVP got a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. There’s also the numerous media and potential sponsorship opportunities that could present themselves. Do the words “I’m going to Disney World!” ring a bell?
So with this in mind, which Denver Bronco or Seattle Seahawk is best positioned to leave MetLife Stadium Sunday night with extra hardware and additional spoils of victory in tow?
Note: Odds to win courtesy of Bovada Sportsbook, as of publication date.
1. The Odds-on Favorite: Peyton Manning, QB, Denver
Odds to win: 11/10
Should the Broncos defeat the Seahawks Sunday night, it would be somewhat of a major upset if Manning wasn’t on the podium to accept his second Super Bowl MVP award. For one, no player will garner more attention leading up to and during Super Bowl XLVIII than the man behind the greatest statistical regular season of any quarterback in the history of the game. Also, whether he likes it or not, this game has already been labeled as Manning’s opportunity to stake his claim as the greatest quarterback to ever play or merely cement his Hall of Fame legacy, depending on who you ask. The good news for Manning, and perhaps Denver fans, is the fact that No. 18 is playing the best football of his career.
2. The Other Quarterback: Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle
Odds to win: 15/4
If the Seahawks end up winning Super Bowl XLVIII Wilson appears to have the best chance of being named the game’s MVP. Quarterbacks have earned Super Bowl MVP honors 26 times in the game’s 47-year history. The last four Super Bowl MVPs have been quarterbacks and six of the last seven. As good as Seattle’s defense has been this season, the offense will need to score some points of its own. This is where Wilson comes in, as he’s capable of making plays with both his arm and his legs, and he’s already shown what he can do when the games count the most. In four career playoff games, Wilson has posted an impressive 96.9 passer rating. Don’t forget, he just turned 25 years old a couple of months ago.
3. The Bruising Running Back: Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle
Odds to win: 15/4
Despite Wilson’s presence, poise and production, the Seahawks’ offense is built around running the ball. Seattle finished fourth in the regular season with 136.8 yards rushing per game with Lynch accounting for more than half (1,257 of 2,188) of the damage. A true workhorse, Lynch leads all players with 249 yards rushing on 50 carries this postseason and boasts a career 5.1 yards per carry average in the playoffs. Denver’s defense has been awfully stingy against the run lately (64.5 ypg, 3.8 ypc in two playoff games) and no doubt will be focused on bottling Lynch up at the line of scrimmage. If “Beast Mode” makes an appearance Sunday night it could lead to big things for both Lynch and the Seahawks.
Odds to win: 20/1
Intentional or not, Sherman guaranteed he would be one of the primary faces and storylines of Super Bowl XLVIII following his explosive commentary after the NFC Championship Game. A two-time, first-team All-Pro shutdown cornerback, Sherman definitely has the game to back up his big talk and now has everyone’s full attention. The Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” secondary is by the far the toughest test Peyton Manning and company have faced this season, but the same could be said for Seattle’s defense matching up with the highest-scoring team in the history of the game. Since Sherman serves as the secondary’s official spokesman, if you will, all eyes will be on him Sunday night to see if his actions back up his words. One thing worth noting: Sherman (6-3, 195) won’t enjoy the same height advantage against Denver’s Demaryius Thomas (6-3, 229) or Eric Decker (6-3, 214) that he did against San Francisco’s Michael Crabtree (6-1, 214) and Anquan Boldin (6-1, 220).
5. The Big Game Veteran: Wes Welker, WR, Denver
Odds to win: 25/1
Welker may not be nearly as big (5-9, 185) as aforementioned teammates Thomas and Decker or any of the Seahawks’ starting defensive backs for that matter, but he does enter Super Bowl XLVIII with one sizeable advantage – experience. Welker and Manning have each played in two Super Bowls, which is twice as many as any other active player on either team’s roster. Unlike Manning, however, Welker has yet to hold the Lombardi Trophy, as he came up short twice (Super Bowl XLII, XLVI) during his six seasons with New England. Fortunately for Welker, he’s not playing the New York Giants Sunday, and he’s also been given a third opportunity to win the biggest game of his career. Welker’s Super Bowl stats (18 rec., 163 yds., 2 att., 21 yds.) certainly aren’t overwhelming, but his experience on this stage, his hands and his ability to find holes in the defense could come up huge for Manning and the Broncos.