ESPN commentators favor Broncos by nearly 2-to-1 for Super Bowl XLVIII

ESPN commentators offer their predictions for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Of the 40 ESPN picks, 26 chose the Denver Broncos and 14 selected the Seattle Seahawks as the winner of Sunday’s Super Bowl game at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey:

Picking the Broncos:
Tedy Bruschi, NFL Live analyst and three-time Super Bowl champion: 27-23: “Peyton Manning has too many weapons for the Seahawk defense to handle. The second half is when the Bronco offense finds its groove.”

Frank Caliendo, comedian/impersonator and Sunday NFL Countdown contributor: 31-24. “Peyton Manning will show he can play in cold weather and will finally be able to quit his second job at the pizza place.”

Adam Caplan, NFL Insider: 24-20: “The Broncos will win this game for one primary reason: They are the one team capable of spreading out the excellent Seahawks secondary and finding favorable matchups.”

Cari Champion, First Take host: 31-26: “Peyton Manning is a surgeon. He will carve up the defense and go down as the greatest doctor in NFL history.”

Colin Cowherd, Seattle native and host, ESPN Radio’s The Herd: 26-20: “The story of the game won’t be the Seattle defense. Instead, it will be Denver’s much improved defense.”

Trent Dilfer, Monday Night Countdown analyst and Super Bowl XXXV champion quarterback: 27-24: “What will go down as one of the best Super Bowls ever, Peyton drives the Broncos down the field for a touchdown on the final possession to win it.”

Mike Ditka, Pro Football Hall of Famer, Super Bowl-winning coach and Sunday NFL Countdown analyst: 21-17: “I don’t think it’s going to be a high-scoring game, and I think that the Broncos will be able to score enough points on the defense.”

Brian Griese, ESPN college football analyst and former Broncos quarterback: 24-20. “Richard Sherman meets his match in Demaryious Thomas and Peyton Manning. The Broncos defense, with its rebuilt front seven, limits Marshawn Lynch and Champ Bailey makes a game-clinching play in the end to seal the victory.”

Jon Gruden, Monday Night Football analyst and Super Bowl champion coach: 26-24: “I’ve got to go with Peyton Manning. I’ve never seen an offense with this kind of production. I think the tempo is something the Seahawks are going to have trouble preparing for and simulating on the practice field.”

Merril Hoge, NFL Live and NFL Matchup analyst: 28-24: “The Broncos passing game has too much flexibility and versatility with its wide receivers and with the formations they will be able to create, and Manning uses that to manage the game.”

Gary Horton, ESPN Insider/Scouts Inc.: 27-20: “When I first looked at film, I thought Seattle would impose its will. The more I watched I saw Peyton is in a zone that very few players ever experience and I don’t know how Seattle can stop him.”

Tom Jackson, former Broncos linebacker and Sunday NFL Countdown analyst: 24-13. “If you give quarterback Peyton Manning and this Broncos team two weeks to prepare, they’ll figure out a way to score 24 points.”

Ron Jaworski, NFL Live and NFL Matchup analyst: 27-24: “Fast start by Peyton Manning forces Seahawks to play from behind.”

Suzy Kolber, NFL Insiders host: 24-17: “I give the slight, intangible edge to Denver based on experience. The Seahawks rotation that has kept them fresh and made them relentless, somewhat neutralized, Peyton Manning and all his weapons pull it out.”

Steve Levy, SportsCenter anchor: 30-24: “Two weeks for Peyton Manning is simply too much for the Seahawks’ defense to overcome. Plus, no 12th Man here.”

Chris Mortensen, senior NFL analyst: 23-20: “The X factor in this game is Percy Harvin. He can flip that score, but in the end, I’m going with Peyton Manning’s ability to break down the defense just enough.”

Wendi Nix, NFL host and reporter: 27-21: “With this much time to prepare and his experience, Peyton Manning can audible enough to throw off the Seattle defense, especially if there’s not major inclement weather.”

Bill Polian, NFL Insider and six-time NFL Executive of the Year, who drafted Peyton Manning: 27-23. “The metrics all point to Seattle, but my heart points me to No. 18.”

Rick Reilly, columnist, Monday Night Countdown contributor and longtime Denver resident: 35-34: “I picked Denver to beat Seattle before the season started and I’m sticking with it. So … just as nobody predicted, it’s a shootout. Peyton Manning’s unheard-of, earth-rattling, never-seen-before three-yard bootleg running touchdown to win it is timed at 11.3 seconds. Millions slap their forehead in unison.”

Stuart Scott, SportsCenter anchor and Monday Night Countdown co-host: 31-23: “Because it’s not going to be that windy and it won’t be that cold, and Peyton doesn’t have to look Richard Sherman’s way.”

Jeff Saturday, Super Bowl champion, former teammate of Peyton Manning and NFL Live analyst: 28-24: “That’s what I picked at the beginning of the season, and as you look at the Broncos with the talent on offense and their defense playing as well as they have been in the playoffs – not letting teams run the ball – they really are a complete team.”

Adam Schefter, NFL Insider: 30-20. “This one’s for Peyton.”

Mark Schlereth, former Broncos offensive lineman, Denver resident, NFL Live analyst, and three-time Super Bowl champion: 31-17: “As long as it’s not windy out, I think the Broncos have too much offensively.”

Mike Tirico, Monday Night Football play-by-play commentator: 27-23: “I think Seattle has everything it takes to win the game, just having trouble seeing Peyton losing after all he has overcome getting back to this point.”

Trey Wingo, NFL Live and NFL PrimeTime host: 34-24: “Peyton erases all doubts.”

Steve Young, Monday Night Countdown analyst, Hall of Famer and three-time Super Bowl champion: 27-17. “In a quarterback-driven league in which defenses are handcuffed to a certain degree and we have one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in Peyton Manning, it’s offense over defense.”

Picking the Seahawks:

Chris Berman, Host, Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown: 23-21: “Temperature at game-time kickoff will be higher than the winning score. You could have had long odds on that one a week ago.”

Cris Carter, Pro Football Hall of Famer and Sunday NFL Countdown analyst: 24-20. “Percy Harvin chips in with 50 yards rushing, and Marshawn Lynch will be MVP.”

John Clayton, longtime Seattle area resident and senior NFL writer: 21-17. “Peyton Manning has to beat the Legion of Boom and the weather, which is a little too tough.”

Mike Golic, co-host of ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike: 27-23: “Seattle’s running game is constant. Marshawn Lynch’s legs never stop moving. Russell Wilson fills in with his passing, and he’ll do some damage with his legs if he has to. If it stays in the 20s, it favors Seattle.”

Mike Greenberg, co-host of ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike: 24-23: “Seattle forces three field goals with great red zone defense. Russell Wilson makes just enough plays.”

Herm Edwards, NFL Live analyst: 20-17: “The Seahawks defense has been dominant all season, allowing just six touchdown passes. In a quarterback-driven league, that says a lot about how great this defense is. I still think you win in this league playing great defense.”

Keyshawn Johnson, Sunday NFL Countdown analyst and Super Bowl champion: 23-21: “This will be an even football game and Seattle wins it late by a field goal.”

Danny Kanell, ESPN college football analyst and former Broncos quarterback: Seahawks, 24-21. “Seattle’s front seven is physical enough to pressure Peyton and the secondary is the best in the NFL and has enough to matchup with all the Broncos weapons.”

Ray Lewis, Sunday NFL Countdown analyst and two-time Super Bowl champion: 21-17. “Overall, Seattle is a better team. Denver relies so much on Peyton that if he has an average day it’s not enough. And, I think the weather favors Seattle with its defense.”

Kenny Mayne, SportsCenter anchor, who was born in Tacoma, grew up in Kent and now lives in Kirkland, Wash.: “I don’t believe the Seahawks have played their best game this season. Feels like a good time to try that. Huge respect for Peyton Manning and his guys but they have yet to face a defense like Seattle’s. Marshawn is running his a** off and people like Doug Baldwin are stepping up. And…We have Percy back. Percy.”

Louis Riddick, NFL Insider: 28-24: “Seattle defensively is uniquely equipped — better than any team in the NFL — to deal with Denver’s offense both physically and mentally. Offensively, they have the kind of ability to be balanced, which leads to time-consuming drives, limiting Denver’s offensive possessions. As a team, I just don’t see Seattle’s resolve and fortitude allowing them to lose this game.”

Ryen Russillo, co-host of ESPN Radio’s SVP & Russillo: 27-21: “The best secondary in the NFL.”

Hannah Storm, SportsCenter anchor: 24-21: “The Seahawks stellar defense takes a half to adjust to Peyton Manning and then shuts down the Broncos in the second half. ‘Defense wins championships’ and the Hawks win in a close one.”

Scott Van Pelt, SportsCenter anchor and co-host of ESPN Radio’s SVP & Russillo: 23-20: “Defense tends to trump offense in these spots. I’m leaning on that.”

To view more ESPN expert picks, visit

Allison Stoneberg and Mac Nwulu contributed to this post.

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