Super Bowl 2014: Five Backups Who Can Come Up Big

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Super Bowl XLVIII: Five Backups Who Can Come Up Big

Jermaine Kearse
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

So it seems that after a largely unpredictable year in the NFL, the two teams that most analysts projected to match up in the Super Bowl are doing just that.

The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks both advanced from their respective championship games to fulfill the prophecies of countless football fans throughout the nation.

This will be a "something has to give" scenario as Denver's formidable Peyton Manning-led offense is set for a head-on collision with Seattle's hard-hitting defense. Which one will give is anyone's guess.

Richard Sherman appears to be out to prove he's the best corner in the game and surely looks forward to having the opportunity to prove that sentiment against perhaps the best offense in NFL history. It should provide an interesting storyline for ESPN to beat into the ground over the next two weeks.

But aside from the usual suspects, which non-starters have the biggest chance to contribute to their team's Super Bowl XLVIII success? Both teams have incredible depth and may look to utilize that depth throughout the game, creating an opportunity for a situational or backup player to break out.

Pete Carroll is always liable to pull some Pete Carroll-like shenanigans and get a random player involved in a game-changing situation. As for Denver, it seems that just about anybody with hands and feet would be able to succeed in their dominating offense; it's just a matter of who's in there.

Let's break it down by looking at five non-starters from both sides who have a chance to come up big next Sunday.

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5. TE Luke Willson, Seattle Seahawks

Luke Willson
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Willson has been a sneaky play at times for Seattle in 2013. A rookie who was selected by the Seahawks in the fifth round, Willson looks primed to seriously outperform his draft position.

Even with vet Zach Miller playing ahead of him, Willson has managed to make an impact in the Seattle offense this season. He's a big, physical tight end who provides coverage issues to anyone guarding him. Look for him to bail Seattle out of some third-and-longs by finding space on post routes.

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4. WR Andre Caldwell, Denver Broncos

Andre Caldwell
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Purely a gut call here. Seattle owns the league's toughest defense; the Broncos have struggled keeping their receivers healthy. I like the chances of Caldwell seeing more playing time then expected.

Caldwell has proved a serviceable fill-in during the regular season, showing the capability to play in the slot as well as make plays for Manning downfield. Should any Denver receiver have to leave the game for any reason Caldwell is first in line to step up.

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3. TE Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos

Jacob Tamme
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Tamme looked to be Denver's man at tight end heading into the season, but the emergence of Julius Thomas has obviously thwarted those plans. He recorded only three receptions over the Broncos' first 10 games.

But Tamme has begun to receive a few more looks recently and even found the end zone for Denver's first touchdown in the AFC Championship. With such a wide array of threats for Seattle's defense to focus on, consider Tamme most likely to slip coverage for an easy score or two.

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2. WR Jermaine Kearse, Seattle Seahawks

Jermaine Kearse
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

In spite of limited playing time in 2013, Kearse has seen the field enough to showcase his big-play potential. Kearse registered four touchdowns on only 25 receptions during the regular season and is always a threat to blow by secondaries for a long score.

Though he didn't record more than three receptions in any game during 2013, Russell Wilson has shown the tendency to look his way so far in the playoffs, finding him on a 35-yard score in the NFC Championship. Expect Kearse to exploit a very vulnerable Broncos' secondary for a big touchdown if given the chance.

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1. RB Montee Ball, Denver Broncos

Montee Ball
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Ball knows how to find the end zone. In fact he did so a NCAA Division I-record 83 times during his four year stay at the University of Wisconsin. After being drafted in the second-round, Ball was expected to provide Denver with much of the same. But after early-season problems hanging onto the football, Ball was relegated to duties as Knowshon Moreno's backup.

But Ball has clawed his way out of Denver coach John Fox's doghouse to once again become relevant in the Broncos' offense. Moreno is still top dog, but Ball's goal-line prowess makes him a great candidate to contribute in a large way against Seattle.