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February 1, 2014

The Daily Star Super Bowl XLVIII Predictions

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The Daily Star

---- — DEAN RUSSIN

Sports Editor

Peyton Manning needs a nickname.

So far, the best one I’ve heard for the Manning of the Hour is “The Sheriff,” but that makes me think of the incompetent Roscoe P. Coltrane from The Dukes of Hazzard. Before the Internet existed, by the way, I thought his name was Roscoe Peco Train. A-kee, kee, kee.

Now Peyt the Great is definitely a good ol’ boy, but he’s going up against Seattle’s Legion of Boom and Beast Mode on Sunday. The point is, we need a cool headline for Monday’s paper, so “Manning’s Broncos top Seahawks” just isn’t going to cut it.

That is what’s going to happen, even though the Shermanator thinks duck season opens Sunday. It’s actually wabbit season, though, so the Manningimal is going to make the mental case who thinks he’s the best cornerback in the galaxy look daffy.

Of course, should Seattle win, we could use “The duck stops here” on Monday. Or if the Prime Minister delivers and sticks with Denver for another season, we could go with “Manning starts duck dynasty.”

OK, my sinus medication is clearly wearing off, so let’s just say the Broncos hit Pey Dirt with a Super Bowl title Sunday and be pun and done.

Prediction: Broncos 24, Seahawks 20.

ROB CENTORANI

Sports Writer

It’s nice to know the national media is paying attention to what I write.

You no doubt remember my Super Bowl prediction last year when I tried to start a campaign to keep Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa out of the Baseball Hall of Fame (why wouldn’t I write about that in a story that’s supposed to be about pro football?).

My campaign never gained much traction.

But when Torre, Cox and La Russa earned election into the Hall in December, former Sports Illustrated and current ESPN columnist Rick Reilly echoed my sentiments (Reilly’s the reason why I used to read SI from back to front).

Here’s what I wrote last February:

“I’d like to start a campaign to keep Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox out of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Rumor has it that they’ll be on the veterans committee ballot this year. If Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire can’t get into the Hall because they abused drugs, then the managers who said nothing while their players were cheating also should be left out. Their silence means they condoned it or didn’t know about it, which seems unlikely. Either way, I say they’re out.”

Here’s part of what Reilly wrote shortly after they were elected:

“It’s just another year in the Hall of Farce, where the codes of conduct shift like beach sand; where the rules for one set of men are ignored for another; where PED poppers can never enter, but the men who turned their backs to the cheating get gleaming, bronze plaques.

“Hail The Great Enablers!

“La Russa’s slipping on the Hall of Fame jersey Monday is the sight that really tested my gag reflex. He did more for juicers than Jack LaLanne. He managed McGwire and Canseco — the Wright Brothers of the Druggie Era — for 21 combined seasons. He made millions on their pimpled backs, won his first World Series title on their syringes and built his 33-year managing career on their artificially carved biceps.”

I’ve always suspected that Reilly reads my stuff. This is air-tight confirmation.

Sticking with my baseball theme for this year’s Super Bowl, who remembers when John Elway played for the Oneonta Yankees in the summer of 1982? He batted .318 with four home runs and made some eye-opening plays in the outfield in his lone professional baseball season.

He’s arguably the most famous player in Oneonta’s minor league history, having quarterbacked the Broncos to two Super Bowls titles during his Hall of Fame career.

These days, he’s calling the shots in the front office for Denver and is a big reason Peyton Manning joined the team.

Sticking with the local theme for this year’s Super Bowl, did anyone notice where the goal posts for this year’s Super Bowl were made? A story in Wednesday’s edition of The Daily Star reported that Delhi firm Sportsfield Specialties Inc. made the goal posts that will be used at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

It’s my opinion that goal posts don’t garner enough attention. If you’re in your 40s and you’re an NFL fan, you’ve probably seen Scott Norwood’s miss at the end of Super Bowl XXV more times than you can count.

But as the ball is sailing wide of the right goal post, you’ve probably never heard anyone say, “Geez, I wonder who made those posts?”

Well, if Matt Prater or Steven Hauschka — kickers for the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, respectively — play the role of goat Sunday, we’ll know where the posts came from.

Imagine if Prater or Hauschka doinks one off of a post as time expires. Those posts made by Sportsfield Specialties Inc. will become the most famous in football history.

And we can proudly say that those posts were made in Delhi.

To be serious for a moment, a missed field goal to lose this year’s game has a decent chance of happening. The teams seem to be fairly equal, the game will be outdoors in cold weather and it figures to be quite windy.

I say Hauschka bangs one off of the left post.

Prediciton: Broncos 31, Seahawks 30.

GREG KLEIN

Cooperstown Crier

I watched the NFC Championship game and thought I was watching two .500 teams, rather than the best teams in the conference. It was an awful game with two teams sinking to the occasion. The thing that amazed me was the sports media the next day, talking about what a great game it was. What game were they watching?

Seattle has a great defense, but Denver shut down New England. Every time the Patriots needed a play or got close to making it a game, it was the Denver defense that stepped up. With all this talk about the Seahawks defense, I expect the Broncos defense to feel unappreciated.

The Seahawks were great at home. The stadium, the crowd and the noise helped them win, but they won’t have that in the Super Bowl. You also have to take into account that no Seahawks have played in the Super Bowl, so Seattle probably will make some out-of-character penalties and turnovers.

Marshawn Lynch is the key for Seattle. For the Seahawks to win, he needs to be the MVP with close to 200 yards rushing. But I love the way Denver shut down New England’s LeGarrette Blount, and I can see them doing that to Lynch, too.

Peyton Manning has had two weeks to work on a game plan, so he should have a huge game. A radio host called him the Greg Maddux of football. That’s a good analogy. He isn’t fast, he isn’t mobile and he doesn’t have the best arm, but he will use his head to win.

This game looks a lot like the AFC title game. Denver gets ahead early as Seattle makes a few mistakes. The Seahawks will then make a second-half run, but it won’t be enough. Right when it seems like the Seahawks will get back into the game, Peyton will make a big play. Then Denver’s defense makes a big play and it’s game over.

Prediction: Broncos 31, Seahawks 17.

JUSTIN VERNOLD

Copy Editor

Peyton Manning might have his best-ever receiving corps in Denver. That’s quite a statement, given that Manning’s Colts had a pair of potential Hall of Famers in Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. But consider this: in Manning’s record-breaking 2004 season with Indianapolis, his receivers gained 38 percent (1,725 yards) of Manning’s 4,557 total passing yards after the catch. This year, his receivers gained an NFL record 2,682 yards after the catch, or a whopping 49 percent of Manning’s record-setting 5,447 passing yards.

Denver can attack with big-play split end Demaryius Thomas, sturdy flanker Eric Decker or crafty veteran Wes Welker operating out of the slot. There’s also tight end Julius Thomas, a former college hoops standout who should change his surname to “Erving” to avoid confusion with Demaryius.

Seattle’s roster was designed to beat the division rival San Francisco 49ers, whose smashmouth style couldn’t differ more from Denver’s. The Seahawks weren’t built for comebacks or shootouts; their only chance is to keep the game close early, then use running back Marshawn Lynch to control the clock and keep Manning off the field.

Manning has a history of big-game meltdowns and hasn’t played well in bad weather. But many of his past errors have come from forcing a play when his team needed it. In the AFC title game, Manning’s cautious approach gave the Patriots’ defense few chances to make big plays.

On top of that, Sunday’s forecast calls for clear skies. Let’s not kid ourselves; the Seahawks are clearly the underdogs here.

Prediction: Broncos 35, Seahawks 23.

MIKE NEAGLE

Former Sports Writer

In my line of work, I try to show how the study of the past can help inform the present.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t really help much when it comes to this year’s Super Bowl.

The Broncos and Seahawks used to be rivals in the AFC West and played each other 50 times over a quarter-century — including a 1983 wild-card playoff victory for Seattle.

But since the Seahawks moved to the NFC in 2002, the teams have only played each other three times — 2002, 2006 and 2010. So we can’t draw much from the Broncos’ 34-19 series edge.

Both teams are even vastly different from 2010. The QBs in that game: Kyle Orton and Matt Hasselbeck. Now, the Seahawks have Russell Wilson under center, Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch in the backfield and Richard “Don’t You Ever Talk About Me!” Sherman in the secondary.

As for the Broncos? It’s all about Peyton Manning. When he arrived in Denver — even with a surgically repaired neck held together by toothpicks and bubblegum — the Broncos became instant title contenders. They are 26-6 in the last two regular seasons. He’s kept his teammates accountable — much like he did in Indy — and there’s a sense the team doesn’t want to let him down. He’s gotten past the bad rap that he’s not a “cold weather” quarterback. With gameday temperatures forecast to be in the 40s, it shouldn’t be much of a factor anyway. Plus, he’s had two weeks to prepare for the Seahawks vaunted D, which should be enough time to figure out its weaknesses.

Besides, if Colin Kaepernick’s throw to Michael Crabtree at the end of the NFC Championship game was 6 inches farther, I’m writing a different prediction and Richard Sherman isn’t as (in)famous.

I just wish the “other” Manning QB was playing in this game. And I don’t mean Archie.

Prediction: Broncos 28, Seahawks 24.

ROB GOBLE

Former Sports Clerk

My son, Jordan, has correctly selected the last two Super Bowl winners, but he’s actually giving me a say this year.

So we predict that Denver’s aerial attack will be too much for the Seahawks to overcome Sunday. We understand that defense wins championships, but Denver has too many weapons.

If Peyton Manning can throw a few more “ducks” for TDs and the Broncos can put up more than 28 points, Jordan — er, I mean we — believe they will win.

Denver is strong against the run and will keep Marshawn Lynch from going all “beast mode” in the Super Bowl. If the Seahawks can’t run, we’re not sure Russell Wilson has enough to stay with Denver.

The only thing that can stop Denver is if Manning actually listened to any advice from brother Eli. If he did, we reserve our right to change our pick.

Prediction: Broncos 31, Seahawks 23.

DAVE COURY

Former Sports Clerk

I want to preface this year’s prognostications by coming clean. I’m in a slump. Since picking the Ravens last year, I just can’t seem to catch a break.

I had New Mexico in the Final Four, Tiger to win the Masters, and my preseason Super Bowl prediction was Houston over Atlanta. Well, New Mexico lost to Harvard in the first round, Tiger fell apart after a bizarre second-round triple-bogey on the 15th hole, and Houston and Atlanta finished the 2013 NFL season a combined 6-26.

I’ve decided the best way to bust out is to predict the outcomes for some of the Internet’s oddest prop bets.

Color of national anthem singer Renee Flemings’ gloves: Classically trained singer Fleming was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Eastman School of Music in 2011 and, of course, the prestigious school’s official seal is a deep navy blue. Therefore, with prop options of white, black, red or other, I’ll take “other” at 3-to-1 odds.

Will the announcers say “marijuana?”: Each Super Bowl team represents a state that has legalized recreational use of marijuana. Will this be brought up by Joe Buck or Troy Aikman? When I was a student assistant at the University of Missouri in the early 90s, we served pizza to media members before each basketball game. A young Buck frequently called Tigers games back then, and let me tell you, that dude could scarf down a pepperoni pizza like nobody’s business. I’ll take yes at better than 5-to-1.

Will Bruno Mars wear a fedora, fur hat, tuque, or nothing on his head at the start of the halftime show?: According to Wikipedia, a tuque is a knit cap. Also according to Wikipedia, Bruno Mars is an American singer-songwriter. Who knew? I sent a Facebook message to my niece, a freshman at Union-Endicott High. Her take is that Mars is a “girly man” and, therefore, likely will wear a fedora. So, I’ll take the “girly” fedora at 2-to-3 odds. In honor of Danielle, a huge fan of 90s rock, I’ll parlay the hat with the chance of a Red Hot Chili Pepper member going shirtless at even odds.

As for an actual game result: My brother Ben and I have been using a board game called Pizza Box Football to predict Super Bowl outcomes since Peyton Manning’s Colts beat the Bears in Super Bowl XLVI. We have a 6-1 record of correctly predicting the outcome against the spread. If you’d like to follow the riveting action of Pizza Box Super Bowl VIII, you can get live scoring updates via twitter using #pizzaboxfootball beginning at noon on Super Bowl Sunday.

Prediction: TBA.

ERIC DEEMER

Sports Clerk

Peyton Manning and the high-scoring Broncos will look to unravel the confident and determined Seahawks, led by second-year quarterback Russell Wilson.

Wilson is a master at extending plays with his scrambling ability, so Denver will have to adjust to handle his speed and maneuverability.

It’s safe to say the Broncos, who are averaging an unbelievable 37.9 points, can consistently pick apart just about any defense. But they haven’t been tested by Seattle, which allowed an NFL-best 14.4 points per game.

Richard Sherman, the outspoken voice of the Seahawks cornerbacks — who have picked off their opponents 28 times this year — believes Manning is the best of the best. But that doesn’t mean Peyton and his storied receivers, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker, will be in the clear.

Manning’s tactical play-calling will be based on the Seahawks’ formations and style of play. As a seasoned veteran, that will give the Broncos the edge.

Prediction: Broncos 24, Seahawks 17.

ERIC MILLER

Sports Clerk

As I try to make an educated prediction for this year’s Super Bowl, I have scoured the Internet searching for expert opinions.

I find it interesting that EA Sports’ Madden 25 has a simulated game, but I’m terrible at it — even in rookie mode. So if I choose to play as one team, the other surely will win.

To get the predictions from ESPN, I would need to subscribe to be an Insider. I don’t need to know the “expert” opinions that badly, though.

Since my J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets had another interesting season of ups-and-downs, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the NFL this year. Therefore, I can’t rely on first-hand knowledge.

I’ve asked many with a lot more insight but got a fairly mixed set of results.

So here’s my prediction, based on nothing more than a guess.

Prediction: Seahawks 28, Broncos 24.

ALEX HEROLD

Sports Clerk

After being absent for the last three Daily Star Super Bowl Predictions, it feels good to be back.

In 2010, I said the Indianapolis Colts would lose to the New Orleans Saints, and that’s exactly what happened. This year, I don’t think I can bet against Peyton Manning. The guy did break Tom Brady’s single-season touchdown record.

With 55 TD passes and four receivers with double-digit TD catches, it’s safe to say Manning has some threats.

He also has a younger brother with one more super bowl ring. If that’s not enough incentive to win Sunday, I don’t know what is.

Prediction: Broncos 34, Seahawks 27.