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Denver Broncos Seattle Seahawks: 2014 NFL Championship Weekend Review

The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will battle in Super Bowl XLVIII, Sunday, February 3 in MetLife Stadium, New York, New York. The game will be covered by Fox Sports with kickoff at approximately 6:30pm ET.

The Broncos (AFC) and Seahawks (NFC) both enter the game as the number one seed from the respective American Football Conference and National Football Conferences, and both come into the game as the best at what they do: the Broncos are the top scoring offence in the NFL, while the Seahawks are the league’s top defence. Come Super Bowl Sunday, one of those will have to give in.

So how did the teams get this far. Here is a quick review:

The Denver Broncos finished first in the AFC West with a 13-3 record, edging out the Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) for the division crown. The Broncos then faced the San Diego Chargers (9-7) in the Divisional Playoff round, winning that game by 24-17 score.

In the AFC Championship game, the Broncos met their old nemesis in the New England Patriots, who were led by Tom Brady. The Broncos jumped out to a quick 13-3 lead at the half, then extended that to 20-3 heading into the final 15 minute segment, before closing out the 26-16 win. Denver was now heading to the franchises’ 6th Super Bowl, having won twice in back to back wins in 1997 and 1998, led by QB John Elway, who is now the club’s President.

The Seattle Seahawks also finished first in the NFC West with a 13-3 record, squeezing by the defending NFC Champs San Francisco 49ers (12-4) for the divisional crown. In the Divisional Round of the playoffs, the Hawks met up with the New Orleans Saints, who were led by quarterback Drew Brees, prevailing 23-15.

In the NFC Championship game, the Seahawks met up with divisional rival 49ers, who jumped out to a 10-0 first half lead. The Hawks then cut into the lead for a 10-3 halftime deficit. Marshawn Lynch then rumbled for a 40-yard touchdown run to knot the game at 10-10 midway through the 3rd quarter. After some back and forth scoring, the Hawks then led 23-17 as the Niners marched in the final minute for the winning score. But an interception in the endzone ended San Fran’s thoughts of a comeback win, and Seattle was on its way to the team’s second-ever Super Bowl. The last time they were in the big game was in 2006 in Detroit, dropping a 21-10 decision to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

2012 NFL Early Season Review & Updated Odds to win Superbowl

The 2012 NFL season is now just over one-third complete and teams are starting to show their true colors. All of the preseason prognostications are being evaluated as the season unfolds, and some teams are far exceeding expectations while others are struggling to live up to their fanbase’s lofty expectations. Let’s take a closer look at some of the compelling storylines going on in the NFL this season.

Biggest Surprises

The Arizona Cardinals are certainly one of the bigger surprises this season. With a 4-3 record, and just one game behind the NFC West division leading San Francisco 49ers, the Arizona Cardinals are a surprise to be in the hunt for a division title at this point in the season. The Cardinals’ quarterback situation leading into the season was one of the biggest question marks around the league, but Kevin Kolb has performed well when healthy and John Skelton has done OK in his absence. The defense for Arizona has been the real reason why the team is playing so well, and should continue to be a bright spot for team in the defensive minded NFC West.

The other biggest surprise to date in the NFL has been the play of the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota had a lot of question marks coming into the season as well, especially the health of running back Adrian Peterson. However, after offseason knee surgery, Peterson appears to be back to his old self while quarterback Christian Ponder has improved immensely in his second season. If both players continue to play at their current level, the Vikings could make some noise in the postseason.

Biggest Underperformers

The New Orleans Saints are probably the biggest underachiever to date in the NFL. Many people were trying to predict how the teams’ offseason issues would affect their play on the field before the season began. As it turns out, the loss of head coach Sean Payton was a bigger deal than some people predicted as the Saints stumbled out of the gate to an 0-4 record. A porous defense was the main reason why the Saints struggled early. However, after winning their last two games, New Orleans may be turning their season around just in time to make a playoff push.

The Detroit Lions, a playoff team a year ago, has been another disappointing team early in the season. With just a 2-3 record, the Lions find themselves at the bottom of the NFC North. Early season losses to Tennessee on the road and Minnesota at home were a bit of a shock at the time as Detroit was expected to possibly contend for a division title. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has not performed up to the level he did a year ago, which has caused the offense to sputter at times. A tough remaining schedule could make it difficult for the Lions to reach the playoffs again in 2012.

Meeting Expectations

While there have been a handful of teams that have overachieved and underperformed thus far in the season, there are more teams that are meeting their expectations and performing a level where everyone thought they would before the NFL season began.

The Houston Texans are certainly a team that is living up the preseason hype. Playing in the weak AFC South division, the Houston Texans were expected to roll to a division title and make some noise in the playoff this year. After a 6-1 start, the Texans are living up to those expectations and have had only one bad game this season, a 42-24 loss at home to the Green Bay Packers.

The Atlanta Falcons are another team that is meeting expectations this season, cruising to a 6-0 record. A lot of NFL experts expected the Falcons to be good and possibly contend for the number one seed in the NFC. Quarterback Matt Ryan is leading an explosive passing offense while the defense is one of the better units in the league. Also, with the fact that the New Orleans Saints are struggling this season, the NFC South is not nearly competitive as it appeared it was going to be in the preseason.

Odds to Win the Super Bowl

With seven weeks in the NFL now complete, the playoff picture is starting to take shape and the Super Bowl contenders are starting to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Below are the current Super Bowl odds for some of the biggest surprises, underachievers and contenders.

San Francisco 49ers +500
Houston Texans +500
New England Patriots +600
Atlanta Falcons +700
New Orleans Saints +4500
Minnesota Vikings +5000
Arizona Cardinals +7000
Detroit Lions +10000