Where’s the Love?
Heading into Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos there were more than a few players who snagged the headlines for each team.
Peyton Manning had the nation obsessing about his legacy, Richard Sherman caught the blunt of the media’s attention after his post-NFC Championship rant, Marshawn Lynch quietly attracted publicity towards himself, Russell Wilson continued to lead by example, and Knowshon Moreno stepped briefly into the spotlight for his potential impact on the game.
Yet, for all the accolades the aforementioned players deserve, there are plenty of other players on each team’s Super Bowl roster that could have breakout performances in the big game of 2014.
With many already having grasped the spotlight previously, there are a few on this list who may surprise you with just how much of a factor they play on Sunday. That said, here are 5 players who could surprise the masses at Super Bowl XLVIII.
Byron Maxwell/Walter Thurmond III
I know, I know, I’m kind of cheating on my first entry but the way these two athletes will factor into the game is essentially the same. Replacing Brandon Browner earlier in the year, Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond III have played more than admirably in 2014.
With them being somewhat interchangeable opposite of Richard Sherman, they could be HUGE factors come Sunday if Sherman locks down whatever receiver he is put on.
Both are fast, a bit undersized, and should be able to help keep Denver’s offense somewhat at bay. Expect to see them picked on all day by Manning, resulting in a mix of good and bad plays that will have a big impact on the outcome of the game.
While most of the offensive talk about the Seahawks has centered around Percy Harvin, Russell Wilson, and Marshawn Lynch, a potentially big player in this game will be Doug Baldwin, a consistent receiver who really had quite the game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Hauling in six passes for 106 yards, Baldwin also sparked Seattle’s special teams unit with three returns for a total of 109 yards.
In all likelihood we’ll see the Broncos key in on Lynch, Wilson, and Harvin tomorrow, allowing other receivers like Baldwin and Golden Tate the opportunity to garner some attention and yards tomorrow. Look for Baldwin to step up when called upon.
Most of the attention in Denver’s run game has focused on Moreno this week, and for good reason. This year he has 1,038 yards on 241 carries with 10 touchdowns to accompany his statistics.
But while Moreno will likely see a majority of all the carries in Sunday’s game, don’t be surprised if Montee Ball makes an appearance and an impact in Super Bowl XLVIII.
A former standout Wisconsin Badger, Moreno has averaged 4.7 yards per carry this year and scored four touchdowns. He may be the most unheralded player heading into the game, but he may have a huge impact as well.
Matt Prater/Steven Hauschka
Including both the Broncos’ and Seahawks’ kickers on this list seems very appropriate considering how unappreciated they are despite being quite important to their respective offenses. Both Matt Prater and Steven Hauschka are essentially automatic kickers and will undoubtedly play a big role in determining the outcome of the game.
Once a big signing by the Seahawks to shore up their TE slot, Zach Miller hasn’t had a huge impact in Seattle’s passing offense but may take Sunday as the opportunity to showcase his talents on the field.
He’s Seattle’s third leading receiver but has been out of the spotlight for most of the year. Look for him to be targeted with Denver keying in on Lynch and Harvin.
With all that said, the time of speculation is almost over.
Super Bowl XLVIII is just around the corner and both Denver and Seattle fans should be proud for the accomplishments of their respective teams this year. Let’s just hope the game lives up to everything it’s been billed to be.