It is easy to recognize the names of the star players the Denver Broncos have on their roster. All season they have been relentlessly discussed by analysts, sports reporters and armchair quarterbacks. It is a foregone conclusion that without stellar play by Peyton Manning, Terrence Knighton, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Demaryius Thomas and Danny Trevathan, chances of victory are slim. Assuming they do their part on Super Bowl Sunday, here are some “non-stars” who must step up their game to ensure a Broncos victory.
The Seahawk’s play a physical brand of football. By doing most of the heavy lifting for the first three quarters, Knowshon Moreno will know he has been in a professional football game. His contributions to the offense will be plentiful even if his final stat line won’t tell that tale. In spelling Moreno throughout the game, Montee must protect the football and get positive yardage on each carry. He must contribute to manageable third down situations by not getting stopped behind the line of scrimmage or for no gain.
Come the fourth quarter it will be Montee’s time to shine. He doesn’t need to break off huge runs, but he must continue to hold onto the ball and get necessary yards. If Denver needs two yards, then he gets two yards. If they need three he gets three.
Assuming the game plan has worked, the Broncos will need to run the football to close out the game late. Having thoroughly tired out Seattle’s big boys with the hurry up offense, running in the fourth quarter won’t be as tough. Three and four yard chunks with be attainable and Ball has the physical running style to get them. As the game is coming to a close, Montee needs to feast at the table Knowshon set for him.
Even though his gigantic concussion-proof helmet makes him look a little like Dark Helmet from Spaceballs, Sunday will be Welker’s day. Using the Cover 3 against the Broncos is going to leave the short passing game open for Welker.
Seattle will try to shut down Demaryius Thomas with Richard Sherman one-on-one. Eric Decker and Julius Thomas can’t be covered by any one man on Seattle’s team not named Sherman. With those two making sure the secondary has their hands full, who is left to cover Welker? Cam Chancellor? A linebacker? Chancellor is solid versus the run, but not a great coverage safety. A linebacker on Welker is laughable and he will run away from all of them, reminding Broncos fans of why gaining those yards after catch has made him so productive over the years. 10 receptions and 100 yards are there for the taking.
If the Seahawks don’t pay significant attention to Knighton, they are either foolish or haven’t watched film of the past few games. In an attempt to contain Knighton with double teams and other tactics, Sylvester’s proverbial door will open; he just needs to step through it.
The rookie has been solid as of late, but he has to play better on Sunday. He needs to beat his man and spend time in the backfield disrupting the run game. When Sylvester finds himself on the field during passing situations he must push the pocket so there is a crowd in front of Russell Wilson. He cannot allow the Seattle offensive line to slide him to the outside opening up a clear lane for Wilson to pass or run. Williams doesn’t have to have a huge statistical game, but he must be the disruptive force envisioned when he was drafted in the first round.
Replacing Von Miller is a daunting task to say the least. Irving has filled in admirably with solid hits on running backs and tackles for loss sprinkled throughout the season. He doesn’t need to play like Miller on Sunday to make a difference. Nate’s back-story is a great one filled with perseverance and will to succeed. He must dig deep and find the fire and drive generated by those events so that he may impose his will. He doesn’t have to be the star of the game, but when the day is done Marshawn Lynch must know Nate Irving came to play. He can’t miss tackles and his final stat line needs read 5-7 tackles and at least one for a loss.
Not including Champ as a one of the stars doesn’t feel right, but in 2013 he has not been one. He has played in only a few games due to injury and until the AFC Championship game he was held to a snap count. However, this is the biggest game of his Hall of Fame career and maybe the only time he plays in the Super Bowl. He needs to put a stamp on arguably the best career of any cornerback in the history of the NFL. Champ needs to play solid coverage and he must make at least one game-changing play.
For years he has been able to shut down one side of the field and take away the opposing team’s best receiver, but not since the 2006 season has Champ consistently made significant game-changing plays. There are a variety of reasons for this, some not in Bailey’s control, but on Sunday he needs to make an impactful play and the Broncos will leave MetLife Stadium as champs.