Super Bowl XLVIII: Weather gives Seahawks the edge

Today’s NFL is full of surprises. It’s unusual that two teams who were thought of as among the league’s elite in the preseason meet on the final day of the season.

But for once, the 2013 season will culminate in a matchup many foresaw back in the summer as the Seahawks and Broncos square off on Sunday in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Both teams are true football titans who have few glaring weaknesses, but the premier matchup is no secret to those following the story lines of the game: Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ No. 1 offense against Richard Sherman and the Seahawks’ No. 1 defense.

Factoring in the chilly weather expected at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., don’t expect a herculean effort from Manning, whose numbers aren’t as gaudy when playing in the cold. That should give the edge to a ball hawking Seattle defense.

Frigid temperatures ought to favor Seattle’s offense, too, thanks to an excellent running game led by Marshawn Lynch. He’s likely to see 20-plus carries for the fourth time since Christmas — a span in which he’s averaging 4.7 yards per carry.

Lynch and his backfield mates have excellent ball security, too. On 573 running plays, Seattle fumbled just twice in the regular season and playoffs combined.

But beware, the Seahawks are the most penalized team in the NFL. Thus far, that dubious distinction hasn’t hindered them too much, but don’t be surprised if a boneheaded play does them in.

If this game were to take place in warm weather or a dome, the Broncos likely would be my pick. They’re offense is the most talented unit in this year’s Super Bowl.

The weather is a tremendous X-factor and gives all the advantages to Seattle, which will earn it’s first league championship.

Prediction: Seahawks 24, Broncos 21