After a very successful Divisional round for Ed and Jeff, they both suffered a rough Conference Championship round. They came into the Conference Championship games with identical records of 5-2-1, and Ed had a slight lead in units with 1,125 compared to 1,100 for Jeff. Both Ed and Jeff liked the 49ers, but Richard Sherman and the Seahawks proved them wrong. To make matters worse, they both missed on their under pick by a half of a point. They also both liked the over in the Pats-Broncos matchup, and that one never came close. But Jeff managed to take the lead as he took the Broncos, while Ed went with the underdog Pats. So, heading into the Super Bowl, Jeff stands at 6-5-1 with 900 units, while Ed is at 5-6-1 with 825 units. They'll be picking the game, the over-under and two prop bets each. It's still anyone's game. Can Ed pull off the comeback? Or will Jeff hold on to his lead?
Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos (-2.5)
Ed: This takes the phrase “clash of styles” to a whole new level. The most feared defense in the league against the most feared offense in the league. It’s like the irresistible force vs. the immovable object. But it’s the Super Bowl, so there must be a winner. Peyton Manning has arguably had the best season of his illustrious career this year, and with so many weapons to throw to, and with plenty of Super Bowl experience, he and the Broncos may seem like the most logical pick. But I’m going the other way. Seattle’s defense is a big part of why I think they’re going to emerge victorious, but the bigger reason is Marshawn Lynch. I expect the Seahawks to pound the ball on the ground and try to control the clock. Lynch will be armed with plenty of Skittles as he unleashes “Beast Mode” on the Broncos on the biggest stage of them all. I think Lynch will be able to keep the chains moving, and as a result, keep Manning off the field. Not only will this strategy keep Manning off the field (like the Chargers did in their Thursday night win over the Broncos in Week 15), but it will also tire out the defense. This could open some things up for Russell Wilson in the passing game. Wilson hasn’t looked very good of late, but Lynch can certainly make things easier on him by having a big day on the ground. Plus, Percy Harvin will be back. If Harvin can stay on the field, it’s a major weapon that the Broncos have to focus on. And that could be the big difference Wilson needs to get things back on track in the passing game. So much of the talk has been about Richard Sherman and how Seattle needs to slow down Denver’s passing attack. But the real story will be whether Denver can stop Seattle’s rushing attack, and I don’t think they can. I think this one will be close throughout, but look for Seattle to win this one outright as they don’t allow Manning to get back on the field at the end of the game to attempt a game-winning drive.
Pick: Seahawks +2.5, 150 units
Jeff: The Broncos seem to be the popular pick here as once the line opened there was a tremendous amount of action on them, which drove the number up to as high as three, and it has come down slightly to where it is now. I thought all along that the winner of the Seahawks-49ers game would go on to win the Super Bowl. I haven't changed my mind as I think the Seahawks will take care of business on Sunday night. The Seahawks' game plan will be to run the ball with Marshawn Lynch to control the clock and pressure Peyton Manning so he can't get into any rhythm in the passing game. Lynch will be a key factor in this matchup as he makes this offense go. The Broncos' rush defense has played well in the playoffs, but they'll have their biggest challenge with trying to slow down Lynch. Another critical piece to this game is whether the Seahawks' defense can put pressure on Manning. If they are able disrupt the Broncos' passing game on a consistent basis, the Seahawks will put themselves in a great position to win this game. The Seahawks will not have to worry about the mobile quarterback this week as they know if Manning feels any pressure, he'll either throw the ball away or take the sack. Russell Wilson will have opportunities in the passing game as the Broncos' secondary can be thrown on. I think Wilson comes up with enough plays to give his team a chance to win. In a game that will be close throughout, I think the Seahawks win this game, 23-20, as a late field goal will be the difference.
Pick: Seahawks +2.5, 200 units
Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos (Total points: 48)
Ed: Since I think this game is going to come down to Seattle pounding the rock and keeping the Broncos off the field, I’m definitely going with the under in this one. It’s very hard to take the under in any Broncos game, but I’m hitching my wagon to Marshawn Lynch. Seattle won’t be able to shut down Peyton Manning completely, but I expect them to be able to frustrate him and keep him off-balance. I think they’ll do a good job limiting Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball as well. I think Denver will be able to hit the 20-point plateau, but that’s about it. As mentioned above, look for Seattle to employ the ground and pound attack to keep the Broncos’ offense off the field. Seattle may hit a couple of big plays in this one, but I think the strategy will be to simply keep the chains moving. Russell Wilson will also be able to utilize his legs to keep plays alive if his receivers aren’t open, which could lead to him picking up some crucial first downs on the ground. I’m expecting a 23-20 type of game here, so the under is the pick.
Pick: Under 48 points, 100 units
Jeff: The total began to drop after it opened as people feared the weather would play a big part into the amount of scoring. Now that the forecast calls for temperatures in the low 40s with relatively light winds at kickoff, more action is now coming in on the over. Since I think the Seahawks win this game, the play here is on the under. The Seahawks don't want to get into an up-tempo type game with the Broncos. They want to slow the game down and work the clock in order to keep the Broncos' high powered offense off the field. I think the Seahawks will have great success running the football with Marshawn Lynch as they'll look to have long, sustaining drives. The Broncos' offense hasn't seen a defense like this all season. They are not going to be able march up and down the field like they are used to doing. I think the Seahawks will dictate the pace of this game as it will go under the posted total.
Pick: Under 48 points, 50 units
Demaryius Thomas receiving yards (Total receiving yards: 75.5)
Ed: Since I’m banking on this being a relatively low-scoring game, I’m going to pick against Denver’s No. 1 wide receiver. I think Seattle will do a good job of taking Thomas away as a major weapon. Richard Sherman will be covering for portions of the game, depending on where he lines up, and I think Sherman is more than prepared to back up all of the talking he does. I think he’ll thrive on the big stage and come up with a monster effort. And if Thomas is covered, I don’t think Manning will try to force it. I think he’ll simply look to his other options like Wes Welker, Eric Decker and Julius Thomas.
Pick: Under 75.5 receiving yards, 75 units
Longest TD of the game by either team (Total yards: 43.5)
Jeff: The Broncos' potent offense goes up against a Seahawks defense that rarely gives up long touchdowns. The Seahawks' secondary won't allow the Broncos' main deep threat Demaryius Thomas to get behind them. The Seahawks' offense isn't made to throw the ball deep, or rely on the big play. Their focus will be to run the ball and stick to their mid-range passing game. In this year's playoffs, neither team has scored a touchdown over 43 yards. I think that trend continues on Sunday.
Pick: Under 43.5 yards, 100 units
Marshawn Lynch rushing yards (Total rushing yards: 94.5)
Ed: Here’s one more pick for Beast Mode. Like I’ve said over and over, I’m expecting Lynch to have a huge game and be the focal point of the offense. He’s going to get all the carries he can handle, and with so much volume, I think he’ll end up around the 150-yard mark in this one. I wouldn’t be shocked if he gets close to this total by the end of the third quarter.
Pick: Over 94.5 rushing yards, 75 units
Marshawn Lynch rushing attempts (Total rushing attempts: 21.5)
Jeff: The Seahawks will want to get the running game going with Marshawn Lynch early and often in this game. A big part of their game plan will be to control the clock and keep Peyton Manning off the field in order to limit his possessions. Lynch only gets stronger as the game goes on. The week off will only help in a game where he'll be asked to carry the ball a ton. I think he finishes this game with 23-25 carries.
Pick: Over 21.5 rushing attempts, 50 units