Super Bowl 2014: 5 MVP Candidates

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Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker greets teammates prior to the game against the San Diego Chargers during the 2013 AFC divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Denver defeated San Diego 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Before the season, a Super Bowl matchup between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks seemed like a dream scenario, especially since it isn’t often when we get to see the two best teams go up against each other in the championship game. But both the Broncos and Seahawks withstood upset bids and injuries to get to this point, and throughout the entire seasons it just seemed like these two elite franchises were destined to meet with everything on the line. Both teams are loaded with depth and talent, and they feature some of the best coaches and front office members in the NFL. It truly is a matchup of heavyweights, and nobody weighs heavier than the best players on the field. It’s always interesting to try and speculate who the MVP candidates are going to be, and they are almost always quarterbacks or wide receivers in the Super Bowl. This list has a focus on those two positions, but there’s also a running back and an “X-Factor” in this group of five.

So here’s how it works. Each team is going to get two “prime” MVP candidates that are concentrated at skill positions, and I’ll just give the old “spoiler alert” that both quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson are on the list. In addition to both QBs, one skill position from each team is on the list, and the fifth MVP candidate is sort of a “Wild Card” pick.

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning

I’ll just start with the mots obvious name, and there isn’t much reason to go into detail as to why Peyton Manning is a top candidate for the Super Bowl MVP. I mean, he already won a Super Bowl MVP award seven years ago when his Indianapolis Colts defeated the Chicago Bears for the only ring of his career, and Manning is simply an MVP magnet; just look at all the regular season MVPs he’s won, including the MVP award he is about to win. This guy is the safest bet to win the award, even if he’s going up against the “Legion of Boom” and an incredible group of Seahawks pass rushers. Manning is aided by the fact that he has the Four Horsemen at his disposal, as well as an offensive line that has done an excellent job of keeping him clean this year. Out of all the players in this game, Manning will be the one in the best position to produce big stats and big media narratives, largely because he’s done both all season long.

Denver Broncos WR Wes Welker

Knowshon Moreno was a runner-up here, but I wanted to go with one of the Four Horsemen here partially for the sake of variety since I’m obviously going to tab Marshawn Lynch as an MVP candidate for the Seahawks. You could really go with any Broncos pass-catcher here, but the logic with Welker is the fact that Walter Thurmond is theoretically the Seahawks worst cornerback in coverage. What makes picking a Broncos wideout so difficult is the fact that everyone in the Seahawks secondary is just so good, but the Broncos wideouts are also incredibly gifted and have shown the ability to get open against top corners. I’m not too high on the prospects of Demaryius Thomas beating Richard Sherman or Eric Decker burning both Byron Maxwell and Earl Thomas deep, and I’ve seen Kam Chancellor shut down too many tight ends (Jimmy Graham, Vernon Davis, and Tony Gonzalez) to bet against him covering Julius Thomas effectively.

I don’t want to bet against Thurmond either, but Wes Welker looks like the Broncos pass-catcher with the best chance of having a big day. Against the Seahawks elite secondary, the most important thing is to chip away and make solid throws. These guys can be burned, and that’s why I really wanted to go with Decker here. However, they were easier to burn with Browner as the No. 2 corner, as it’s a lot more difficult to beat the more patient Maxwell (and then there’s speed demon and elite cover FS Earl Thomas to consider). Meanwhile, Welker is a guy whose route-running, quickness, and intelligence could be the perfect foil for the Seahawks defense. When an elite QB doesn’t win the Super Bowl MVP, his best-performing wide receiver in that game usually does (see Deion Branch‘s SB MVP in 2005).

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Tags: Denver Broncos Marshawn Lynch Peyton Manning Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl Terrance Knighton Wes Welker

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