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Super Bowl XLVIII: Top 15 MVP Candidates

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15 MVP Candidates for Super Bowl XLVIII

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Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest sporting event of the year. The Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos will face off this Sunday for the NFL Championship and the opportunity to hoist the coveted Lombardi Trophy.

The matchup between these two teams is perfect for the football fan in all of us. Peyton Manning and the Denver offense is not only the top in the league, you could easily make an argument that they are the greatest of all time. Manning set the single season passing TD record this year with 55, and the 2013 Broncos set an NFL record for points scored in a single season with 607.

Sunday's Super Bowl matchup pits Denver's incredible offense against the best defense in the NFL. Seattle led the league in almost every defensive category this season, including total yards allowed per game (273.6), points allowed per game (14.4) and takeaways (39). This Seattle defense is loaded at all positions and will give Manning and company their biggest test yet.

The explosive Denver offense against Seattle's tenacious defense will be the most important matchup in this game, but the individual players will determine who wins the Super Bowl. Both teams are loaded with incredible individual talents, and that makes for a ton of MVP candidates.

When a player wins the Super Bowl MVP, it instantly takes his career to another level. Which player in this game will step up and take home the award? We obviously will not find out for sure until Sunday night, but here are the 15 top candidates to take home the Super Bowl XLVIII MVP award.

Daniel is a writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @D_Schmelzer, "Like" his Page on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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15. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

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Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been great in his first season in Denver. Rodgers-Cromartie is a very fast and athletic corner that always has big play potential. Obviously, he is a huge longshot to take home the MVP award, but I could see a scenario where he uses his speed and athleticism to make some big plays and takes home the award.

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14. Percy Harvin

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Because of a nasty hip injury and concussion concerns, Percy Harvin has only played 39 offensive snaps with the Seahawks this season. Everybody was excited about adding Harvin to the Seattle offense, but his health has never allowed that to happen.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll has made it clear that Harvin will play in the Super Bowl. I doubt that Harvin will be a huge part of the Seattle game plan, but he is a dynamic athlete that can score from anywhere on the field. If Harvin can make the best out of his few opportunities, you never know.

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13. Doug Baldwin

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Doug Baldwin is sometimes the forgotten man in the Seattle offense. That being said, he seems to have a knack for making big play in important moments. Baldwin is one of Wilson's favorite receivers. It is unlikely that he will put up the numbers necessary to win the MVP, but if he can make plays at the right time, it is certainly not out of the question.

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12. Kam Chancellor

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Kam Chancellor is one of the most intimidating players in the NFL. Standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 232 pounds, Chancellor is huge for the Safety position. Do not think for a minute that his size slows him down, because Chancellor is an incredibly athletic and fast player. I believe that he will play a huge role in trying to slow down Manning and the Broncos, but it seems unlikely that he will be able to put up the numbers necessary to win the MVP.

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11. Golden Tate

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Golden Tate has been the most consistent receiver for the Seahawks all season long. He is a versatile player who does well in the slot and on the outside. Denver is far from loaded with elite corners, and Tate could easily exploit the favorable matchups; he also has a very nice rapport with quarterback Russell Wilson.

Tate is the most likely Seattle receiver to make an impact in the game and take home the award.

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10. Earl Thomas

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Earl Thomas is arguably the best safety that the NFL has to offer. He does an incredible job in pass coverage against big and athletic tight ends, small and quick wide receivers, and everyone in between. Thomas plays like a man with his hair on fire, making plays all over the field.

I would not be surprised to see him make a handful of huge plays in the Super Bowl and receive MVP consideration.

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9. Eric Decker

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Eric Decker had an incredible 2013 season, hauling in 87 receptions for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns. Decker has nice size and speed, runs great routes, and has incredible hands. He may not be Manning's first option on every play, but if the Seattle defense tries to take away the other options, Decker is more than capable of taking advantage.

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8. Julius Thomas

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Julius Thomas came seemingly out of nowhere this season and has instantly become when of the most dangerous tight ends in the NFL. Thomas burst on to the scene with 65 receptions, 788 yards and 12 touchdowns in 14 regular season games in 2013.

He has continued to be a weapon for Manning in the first two playoff games. Thomas has a rare combination of power, size and athleticism that makes him a matchup nightmare, and I would not be the least bit surprised to see him go off in this game.

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7. Knowshon Moreno

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It was not long ago when Knowshon Moreno was considered just another 1st round RB bust. He has risen from the ashes this season, giving Denver a much needed ground attack. Moreno rushed for 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns on 241 attempts this season.

Moreno also does a nice job in the passing game, both as a receiver out of the backfield and protecting Manning. If the Broncos decide to attack Seattle on the ground, he could easily become the MVP.

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6. Wes Welker

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Wes Welker's first season in Denver has been up-and-down. He has been a valuable part of their incredible offense all season long, but he has struggled to stay on the field. Welker is completely healthy now, and he is a serious threat in this game. The Seahawks do struggle to defend slot receivers at times, so I think Manning could look to feature Welker early and often in this one.

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5. Demaryius Thomas

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Demaryius Thomas has taken his game to a completely different level this season. Thomas has great size (6-foot-3, 229 pounds), fantastic speed and incredible strength for a WR. Manning has an array of options in this offense, but Thomas is, without a doubt, the best one.

Thomas caught 92 balls this season for 1,430 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has also been incredible throughout the postseason, hauling in 15 receptions for 188 yards and two touchdowns in two games. If Denver wins this game, Thomas will probably be a big reason why.

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4. Richard Sherman

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You may not like him, but Richard Sherman is right, he is the best corner in the league. He has all the size and athleticism that you could dream of in a defensive back, and he is also incredibly football intelligent.

I imagine that Sherman will match up with Demaryius Thomas for a majority of this game, but that remains to be seen. One thing is for sure -- whoever Sherman is defending probably will not be coming down with the ball.

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3. Russell Wilson

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Russell Wilson is one of the most impressive young QBs in the game. He may not put up the monster numbers like Manning or some of the other quarterbacks, but he is an incredibly smart player who can attack a defense in many different ways. Wilson has a strong and accurate arm and can take off on a successful scramble at any time.

Quarterbacks usually take home these kind of awards, and while the Seahawks do not ask a whole lot out of Wilson, he is certainly talented enough to be the Super Bowl MVP.

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2. Marshawn Lynch

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Marshawn Lynch might be a man of few words, but make no mistake about it, he is one of the best runningbacks in the NFL. Lynch is one of the most powerful runners that the sport has ever seen. "Beastmode" rarely goes down on first contact and he has plenty of speed to take it to the house when he gets space.

The Seahawks must be able to control the clock in order to keep Manning and the explosive Denver offense off of the field. Obviously, Lynch will take a key role in that. If Seattle can win this game, Lynch will probably be a huge reason why and a legitimate contender to take home the MVP award.

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1. Peyton Manning

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Let's be honest, if Denver wins this game, Peyton Manning is very likely to take home the award. If the Broncos can win this game, Manning enters the discussion as greatest QB of all time. Obviously, he will be supremely motivated to win this one.

The Broncos will likely put this game squarely on the shoulders of their QB. If he can dominate like he has all season long, Denver will probably win and Manning will probably be the Super Bowl MVP.