X-Factors of Super Bowl XLVIII
By Andre Khatchaturian
BU News Serivce
Peyton Manning and Seattle’s Legion of Boom have been getting most of the attention, but here are some other key players from both the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks who will play a factor in this Sunday’s game.
Percy Harvin, WR (Seattle)
The former Florida Gator barely played this season because of injury. However, when healthy, Harvin is one of the most dynamic wideouts in the game. The Seahawks are essentially adding a Pro Bowl caliber player to their roster on the day of the Super Bowl. The good news for them is that there isn’t even that much film on him so the Broncos may have difficulty covering him. That said, Harvin has barely played this season. There could be plenty of rust and perhaps even another setback during the game.
Champ Bailey, DB (Denver)
Bailey has not lived up to his first name throughout his NFL career. He has 12 Pro Bowl selections (a record for a cornerback), is a seven-time All-Pro, and has been one of the most dominant corners in the game for a long time. However, he’s never won a championship. It took him 15 seasons, but Champ will be looking for the chance to actually be a champ in his first Super Bowl this Sunday. Bailey only played five games this year due to injury, but returned in Week 16. Since then, the Broncos have kept opponents to fewer than 20 points in every game. Along with fellow corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Broncos will look to prevent Russell Wilson and the Seahawks from beating them through the air.
Terrance Knighton, NT (Denver)
Terrance Knighton, also known as Pot Roast, played under the radar for much of his career in Jacksonville. This year was his first in the Broncos and he’s finally getting plenty of attention, deservedly so. Knighton has been a key factor in the Broncos dominant rush defense. No – his numbers aren’t gaudy, but opposing teams haven’t been able to run the ball with Pot Roast stuffing the holes. After stifling the Chargers and Patriots running attack in the first two rounds of the playoffs, Pot Roast will have his work cut out for him as he tries to stop Marshawn Lynch.
Marshawn Lynch, RB (Seattle)
Beast Mode has been the offensive MVP for the Seahawks for the last three seasons. His downhill and aggressive style of running has been a huge reason why the Seahawks have been so successful. He may be the most important player for the Seahawks come Sunday. If he runs well, the clock will run. When the clock runs, Peyton Manning doesn’t have the ball in his hands and that’s the best way to beat him. Lynch has averaged close to five yards per carry in the playoffs, but he’ll be going up against a solid rush defense.
Matt Prater, K (Denver)
Wait, a kicker? Absolutely. Prater missed just one field goal this season and it was a 52-yarder against Kansas City. He was 6-of-7 on kicks longer than 50 yards and one of those broke the record for longest field goal of all time (64 yards). Does he get help from Denver’s thin air? Perhaps, but he’s yet to miss a field goal this season on the road. Prater matters because Peyton doesn’t have to rely on scoring touchdowns to beat Seattle. If he can consistently get the ball to within 35 yards from the endzone, which he is more than capable of doing, Denver may actually coast to victory.