NFL Seattle Seahawks

5 Most Important Players for Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII

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Seattle Seahawks: 5 Most Important Players for Super Bowl XLVIII

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Led by an incredible defense, the Seattle Seahawks are heading to the Super Bowl for only the second time in the history of their franchise. When they face off against the Denver Broncos on Feb. 2, the Seahawks will look to bring the Lombardi trophy home to Seattle for the first time in franchise history.

Head coach Pete Carroll has put together an incredible team that cruised through the regular season with a 13-3 record, earning the top seed in the NFC. They easily disposed of the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round, and defeated their rivals, the San Francisco 49ers, in the NFC Championship game to advance to the Super Bowl.

Quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch do a nice job on the offensive side, but the Seattle defense is what makes this team elite. They gave up the fewest points in the league this season (14.4 per game) and fewest total yards (273.6). Seattle also led the league in interceptions with 28 and total takeaways with 39.

While they have an impressive defensive line and linebacker core, the stars of the defense are in the secondary. Led by outspoken CB Richard Sherman and S Earl Thomas, the Seahawks only allowed 172 passing yards per game, far and away the fewest in the league.

Their upcoming matchup against Denver will be by far their toughest test yet. Peyton Manning and his array of offensive weapons are having a historic season. Manning has made it look easy all season long as he re-wrote the record books. The Broncos led the NFL in almost all offensive categories, most by a wide margin, including points per game (37.9), passing yards per game (340.3) and total yards per game (457.3).

This matchup between these two teams should be one for the ages. Denver's best versus Seattle's best. It certainly will not be easy, but I believe the Seahawks will win this game and their first Super Bowl in franchise history. Here are five players who must be elite if they are to do so.

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5. Marshawn Lynch, RB

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Offensively, the Seahawks love to run the ball, and they lean heavily on Lynch to do so. He carried the ball 301 times during the regular season for 1,257 yards and 12 touchdowns. In their two playoff games thus far Lynch has rushed for a combined 249 yards and three TDs on 50 carries. The Broncos are solid against the run, but he has ran very well against much better defenses. His combination of quickness and power will be very hard for Denver to stop.

In order to keep Manning off of the field, the Seahawks must be able to control the clock. The best way to do this is with the running game. The fresher that the Seattle defense is, the more of an edge they have in the marquee matchup against Manning. An effective running game led by Lynch is huge for the Seahawks in this game.

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4. Richard Sherman, CB

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Sherman has probably been the most talked about person in the country since Sunday because of his actions at the end of the game against the 49ers. Regardless of what you think of him as a person, Sherman is the best CB in the league, and it really is not even close. He has elite size and strength for a corner, and his athleticism is off of the charts.

The Seahawks will surely have Sherman defending WR Demaryius Thomas for a majority of the game. Manning has plenty of weapons, but Thomas is the best and his favorite. If Sherman can shut down Thomas, the Seahawks will be in great shape.

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3. Russell Wilson, QB

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As I said before, the Seahawks will look to run the ball against the Broncos and keep Manning and his offense on the sidelines. That being said, the Broncos will probably do everything that they can to stop Lynch, including loading the box. I believe that Denver will, for the most part, sell out to stop the run, and make Wilson beat them.

With the injury to CB Chris Harris, the Broncos have a depleted secondary and are ripe for the picking. Wilson is a talented player and is capable of winning this game, using both his arm and legs. The Seattle defense is incredible, but Wilson and the offense must score some points if they expect to win.

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2. Kam Chancellor, S

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Kam Chancellor is an enforcer in the middle of the field. He is built like a linebacker (6-foot-3, 232 pounds), but he has the athleticism of a skill position player. He does an incredible job of helping in the run game, and his size and athleticism allows him to defend tough matchups in the passing game.

I believe that Chancellor will be defending TE Julius Thomas for a large portion of this game. Thomas is one of Manning's favorite weapons, especially in the red zone, and if Chancellor can shut him down, that will surely frustrate Manning. Also, the Seahawks like to have Chancellor play a zone in the middle of the field at times, I could see him putting some monster hits on Wes Welker and Eric Decker in their crossing routes that the Broncos love to run.

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1. Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, DE

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I guess naming two players here is kind of cheating, but I could not choose just one. Getting pressure on Manning has always been the key to stopping him. The Denver offensive line has done an incredible job protecting him recently, but they have not faced a pass rush like this.

Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett lead the pass rush for the Seahawks and will play a huge role in this game. Both do an incredible job of rushing the passer using an array of both power and speed moves.

Avril and Bennett are the main pass rushers for Seattle, but guys like MLB Bobby Wagner, DT Clinton McDonald and DE Chris Clemmons get involved as well. Getting pressure on Manning is the most important aspect of this game for Seattle. If they can make him hurry his throws, I like their chance. If he gets plenty of time to throw, he could have a field day.