I like the Broncos to win it, and here are five reasons why:He might be throwing more often than any time in his career, but Manning is no longer a reckless gunslinger. He's not going to try to force a pass that isn't there. He's not going to throw at Sherman just to prove he can.
He's not afraid to rely on Knowshon Moreno and the running game if it moves the chains and keeps those long drives alive. In fact, I think Manning's approach will be one that emphasizes the long, time-consuming drives where the Seattle defense remains on the field, growing frustrated with Denver eating up field and clock. Manning had the greatest pressure of his life two weeks ago, playing nemesis Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. He was near flawless.Sherman, Byron Maxwell, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, otherwise known as the Legion of Boom, present a puzzle for Manning to solve. They've shown they can put the clamps on a number of receivers this season. They're likely to amp up the contact, too, presuming that officials can't call pass interference every play and that officials tend to call fewer penalties as the postseason progresses. Here's where Manning has the edge: He has more receivers than the Seahawks can handle. He has Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Julius Thomas and even Moreno out of the backfield. Manning can steer clear of Sherman and run all sorts of different formations to cross up the Seahawks.Lynch, the Seahawks running back known for "Beast Mode," has played well in the postseason, but there's been a different vibe leading up to this game as a result of the attention generated by his reluctance to talk with the media. Super Bowl players are made available for nearly four hours, in hour-long increments, once they arrive at the Super Bowl site. Lynch has talked about 20 minutes total, and half of that was listening to the questions. Does it matter? Only in this sense: He wants his playing to do the talking. So he's going to try to be loud Sunday. If he presses too much, possibly turning the ball over, it could be a game-changer. I'm not saying he will press, but the potential is there.Does anybody even remember the Broncos have a defense? No, it was not an elite one, especially after all the injuries to Von Miller and others. But it is a proud one, one that did a nice job of throwing Tom Brady off his game in the AFC championship. It has Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton, who'll be set on slowing Lynch. Suppose the Broncos slow the Seahawks running game, as they did with the Patriots' running game. Then what? Then it rests in the hands of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. He's made some great plays in his young career, and he's forced some things under pressure. Champ Bailey might not be the defensive back he once was, but he knows how to rally the secondary.Apparently, the game-time conditions will be winter, but not arctic, chilly but not overly windy. The possibility of bad weather was one of the factors many thought could impact the Broncos' game plan. If it were too windy, Manning's passing attack, and the precision it requires, could be altered. Now that it looks like a relatively mild day, weather becomes less and less of a factor. The Broncos can score points in a hurry. It's not as clear the Seahawks can respond, especially if they're trailing and forced to be one-dimensional.
The pick: Broncos 34, Seahawks 27
Super Bowl XLVIIIKickoff: 6:25 p.m. Sunday
For more on the NFL, follow Reggie Hayes via Twitter at www.twitter.com/reggiehayes1