What you need to know about the players battling for the Lombardi Trophy
So, there’s a football game tonight? You don’t want to be like this guy and pick the Patriots to win; there might not be a faster way to get kicked out of your Super Bowl party! Here’s a cheat sheet to help get your through XLVIII. (Across the board: jersey number, name, position, age, height, weight, years in the NFL and college.)
Points: 8th (league rank)
3 Russell Wilson QB 25 5-11 206 2 Wisconsin
A caretaker with explosive big-play abilities. That’s an oxymoron that, so far, has worked for the Seahawks.
24 Marshawn Lynch RB 27 5-11 215 7 California
Tenacity and power are touted keys to his game. Less touted but equally important is his lateral agility.
22 Robert Turbin RB 24 5-10 222 2 Utah State
Only around because Beast Mode, at least for a few snaps per game, goes into Rest Mode.
26 Michael Robinson FB 30 6-1 240 8 Penn State
You’d think a former college quarterback would be more of a ball-handling fullback, like Mike Tolbert. Instead, he’s just a sound zone lead-blocker.
89 Doug Baldwin WR 25 5-10 189 3 Stanford
System player, but part of being in Seattle’s system is knowing what to do when the quarterback extends the play, which this slashing receiver has a great feel for.
11 Percy Harvin WR 25 5-11 184 5 Florida
Not since Rod Woodson in January 1996 has a star player missed essentially the entire season only to return for the Super Bowl. Brings new dimensions to this offense (including vertical lethality). The Broncos don’t have much film on him to study.
15 Jermaine Kearse WR 23 6-1 209 2 Washington
Has the ability to make plays over the top within the confines of a play design. That’s critical in this offensive system and for playing with Russell Wilson, who has the best downfield touch in football.
81 Golden Tate WR 25 5-10 202 4 Notre Dame
Good shifty catch-and-run weapon, but must be a little more consistent to justify the chip on his shoulder.
86 Zach Miller TE 28 6-5 255 7 Arizona State
As average as a Tuesday afternoon. (That’s neither good nor bad.)
82 Luke Willson TE 24 6-5 252 R Rice
Effective on crossing routes in play-action, and will occasionally come out of the backfield.
60 Max Unger C 27 6-5 305 5 Oregon
Classic upper-tier zone scheme center; so-so when facing powerful bulls in a phone booth, but outstanding in open space and on the move.
77 James Carpenter G 24 6-5 321 3 Alabama
Remember when cameras caught Nick Saban showing palpable surprise upon hearing his former lineman’s name called in the first round on draft night? Three years later, Saban’s reaction makes more and more sense.
67 Paul McQuistan G 30 6-6 315 8 Weber State
As a utility backup, he grades as a B. As a starter, he’s a C-. (Or D- if asked to play left tackle.)
64 J.R. Sweezy G 24 6-5 298 2 North Carolina State
Can sometimes get exposed against quality opponents in one-on-one scenarios, but is a solid cog when operating as part of a group.
73 Michael Bowie OT 22 6-4 332 R Northeastern State (Okla.)
Started at left guard in divisional round and was a healthy scratch in the NFC Championship. Tells you how the Seahawks feel about him and their left guard position as a whole.
68 Breno Giacomini OT 28 6-7 318 6 Louisville
Prototypical right tackle: heavy feet (bad) and heavy hands (good).
76 Russell Okung OT 25 6-5 310 4 Oklahoma State
Not quite elite, but is as physically gifted as any left tackle in the league. Is capable of playing that way, too.
91 Robert Ayers DE 28 6-3 274 5 Tennessee
He’s versatile and quietly fills in a lot of blanks for Denver’s defensive front.
97 Malik Jackson DE 24 6-5 293 2 Tennessee
Good movement skills for his size; capable of making a flash play or two as a sub-package interior pass rusher.
90 Shaun Phillips DE 32 6-3 255 10 Purdue
Hard to understand why everyone was so surprised by his 10 sacks this year. He had 9.5 sacks for the Chargers last year.
94 Terrance Knighton DT 27 6-3 335 5 Temple
Has blossomed into Denver’s most important run-defender; has uncommon short-area change-of-direction skills for his size.
96 Mitch Unrein DT 26 6-4 306 3 Wyoming
Solid run-plugger who effectively doubles as a short-yardage fullback on offense.
92 Sylvester Williams DT 25 6-2 313 R North Carolina
Not a lot of defensive tackles get better each week in the latter part of their rookie season. He has, and that’s allowed this D to survive season-ending injuries of Kevin Vickerson and Derek Wolfe.
57 Jeremy Mincey DL 30 6-4 265 6 Florida
Has assumed a supporting role at outside linebacker and defensive end this postseason, showing flashes of the guy who once had an eight-sack campaign in Jacksonville.
56 Nate Irving LB 25 6-1 245 3 North Carolina State
A good day at work is one where he just blends in.
51 Paris Lenon LB 36 6-2 240 12 Richmond
Has spent his career stabilizing front sevens by winning starting inside linebacking jobs that weren’t supposed to be his. Coaches will tell you he’s as smart as any player.
59 Danny Trevathan LB 23 6-1 240 2 Kentucky
Denver’s most valuable linebacker. Brings speed and pursuit skills to the outside of the base 4-3 and good coverage ability to the nickel and dime packages.
52 Wesley Woodyard LB 27 6-0 233 6 Kentucky
Was Denver’s most valuable linebacker until his lack of size and physicality proved too great of hindrance against the run.
24 Champ Bailey CB 35 6-0 192 15 Georgia
His dependability at an all-new slot position only adds to his Hall of Fame résumé.
32 Tony Carter CB 27 5-9 175 5 Florida State
Dubbed the team’s most gifted raw cover artist early in John Fox’s tenure, but has struggled this season. Was brought up from the bottom of the depth chart two weeks ago only to get picked on by Tom Brady and the Patriots.
23 Quentin Jammer CB 34 6-0 204 12 Texas
At this point in his career, offers everything that Tony Carter does—only minus the athleticism.
45 Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie CB 27 6-2 193 6 Tennessee State
His retirement talk illustrates why the ceaseless Super Bowl press conferences are nonsensical exercises in killing time and brain cells. No chance one of the league’s 10 best man-to-man defenders calls it quits with an eight-figure signing bonus all but assured to him this upcoming offseason.
36 Kayvon Webster CB 22 5-11 198 R South Florida
Played just 11 snaps in the AFC Championship Game and one snap in the divisional round as he worked his way back from late December thumb surgery. If at full strength, he’ll be the nickel outside corner.
20 Mike Adams S 32 5-11 200 10 Delaware
Smart, multidimensional player with limited raw tools.
31 Omar Bolden S 25 5-10 195 2 Arizona State
Converted cornerback who has taken over at free safety in the nickel package. Nothing special, but more reliable in coverage than Duke Ihenacho.
29 Michael Huff S 30 6-0 211 8 Texas
Late-season addition who has joined in the nickel and dime safety rotation. Hasn’t lit the world on fire, but the rotation as a whole worked well two weeks ago versus New England.
33 Duke Ihenacho S 24 6-1 207 2 San Jose State
Plays much bigger than his 207-pound size suggests. Has a chance to prosper long-term as an Adrian Wilson-type box safety.
18 Peyton Manning QB 37 6-5 230 16 Tennessee
A win on Sunday puts him at the forefront of “G.O.A.T.” discussion.
28 Montee Ball RB 23 5-10 215 R Wisconsin
Denver’s best pure runner; will spend this offseason honing his receiving and pass-blocking skills, and will likely take over as the every down back next September.
27 Knowshon Moreno RB 26 5-11 220 5 Georgia
Currently Denver’s best all-around back; a big performance on Sunday will net him an overpriced free agent contract (probably somewhere else).
12 Andre Caldwell WR 28 6-0 200 6 Florida
Still hard to understand how someone so wiry can obtain the nickname “Bubba.” He’ll catch what you throw him, but barring an injury to one of the three starters, he won’t see more than about five snaps.
87 Eric Decker WR 26 6-3 214 4 Minnesota
Has morphed into one of the league’s most precise route runners under Manning.
88 Demaryius Thomas WR 26 6-3 229 4 Georgia Tech
Deserves to be recognized as one of the league’s best all-around wideouts. A legitimate deep threat who can also get open along the sideline or over the middle, and a superb run-after-catch artist, including on receiver screens.
83 Wes Welker WR 32 5-9 185 10 Texas Tech
He didn’t have a crucial drop in his last Super Bowl appearance because he choked; he had a crucial drop because, for all his greatness in the slot, he has a tendency to drop passes. In fact, he’s second only to Brandon Marshall in this department over the last six years.
85 Virgil Green TE 25 6-5 255 3 Nevada
Raw athleticism and versatility allowed him to sneakily blossom into the No. 2 tight end this year.
80 Julius Thomas TE 25 6-5 250 3 Portland State
Far and away the most significant X-factor in Super Bowl XLVIII. Click here to read why.
66 Manny Ramirez C 30 6-3 320 7 Texas Tech
Aptitude as a run-blocker and in getting out in front on screens has made him the NFL’s most improved center (and maybe player) in 2013.
68 Zane Beadles G 27 6-4 305 4 Utah
Outstanding at delivering point-of-attack double-teams in the running game.
65 Louis Vasquez G 26 6-5 335 5 Texas Tech
Dependable pass protector who has fit perfectly in this O-line.
75 Chris Clark OT 28 6-5 305 5 Southern Mississippi
No Ryan Clady, but with Manning’s awareness and pocket maneuverability, he doesn’t need to be.
74 Orlando Franklin OT 26 6-7 320 3 Miami (Fla.)
Another vastly improved lineman, mainly in pass pro.
56 Cliff Avril DE 27 6-3 260 6 Purdue
Only thing more astounding than the fact that GM John Schneider got Avril for just $6.5 million a year (on average) is…
72 Michael Bennett DE 28 6-4 274 5 Texas A&M
The fact that Schneider got this guy for just $4.8 million.
79 Red Bryant DE 29 6-4 323 6 Texas A&M
Tremendous playside run-stopper who has light enough feet to thrive on the weak side.
91 Chris Clemons DE 32 6-3 254 10 Georgia
Sack numbers are down (4.5 this year) but has flashed the same burst and pliability that he had before blowing out his knee last January.
99 Tony McDaniel DT 29 6-7 305 8 Tennessee
Is quietly a very disruptive run-defender. Can also win against one-on-one pass-blocking.
69 Clinton McDonald DT 27 6-2 297 5 Memphis
If you haven’t confused him with McDaniel at least once this season, then you haven’t watched many Seahawks games.
92 Brandon Mebane DT 29 6-1 311 7 California
Easily a top-five noseguard. Plays low and moves left and right with aplomb.
51 Bruce Irvin LB 26 6-3 248 2 West Virginia
Has performed well at his new strongside linebacker spot (even in coverage) but isn’t it a little peculiar that he hasn’t been used more as a pass rusher? No one on the roster has a quicker first step.
53 Malcolm Smith LB 24 6-0 226 3 USC
A smaller, poor man’s version of K.J. Wright—which means he could start for a lot of teams.
54 Bobby Wagner LB 23 6-0 241 2 Utah State
As effective in space as any Mike linebacker backer in football. And that’s not to say he isn’t good in traffic.
50 K.J. Wright LB 24 6-4 246 3 Mississippi State
This game very well could be decided by him in pass defense.
20 Jeremy Lane CB 23 6-0 190 2 Northwestern State-Louisiana
If someone gets hurt and he has to play every snap, his team will be fine. That’s not true with most No. 4 corners.
41 Byron Maxwell CB 25 6-1 207 3 Clemson
If he continues to develop next year at the rate that he developed over the second half of this season, then he’ll challenge his loquacious teammate for “best outside corner in the game.”
25 Richard Sherman CB 25 6-3 195 3 Stanford
The aforementioned loquacious teammate.
28 Walter Thurmond CB 26 5-11 190 4 Oregon
How come we haven’t encountered very many stories this week about Walter Thurmond’s comeback? After missing essentially the last two years with leg injuries, he unexpectedly resumed his march toward being the NFL’s top pure slot corner.
31 Kam Chancellor S 25 6-3 232 4 Virginia Tech
Has essentially served as a fourth linebacker in Seattle’s scheme, though his ability to cover tight ends man-to-man is what put this defense over the top. (Can he apply those skills to Julius Thomas at an X-iso receiver spot?)
29 Earl Thomas S 24 5-10 202 4 Texas
Far and away the rangiest centerfielder in football. The rangiest one since a young Ed Reed, in fact.