Jan 29, 2014; New York, NY, USA; ESPN NFL analyst Mike Ditka speaks to the media during the ESPN Press Conference prior to Super Bowl XLVIII at Empire East Ballroom. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Super Bowl 48: ESPN Experts Favor Denver Broncos On Sunday

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We’re just a couple of days away from Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey and the experts’ picks are starting to roll in.

ESPN’s panel strongly favors the Denver Broncos—who are currently three-point favorites according to Bovada.lv.

Of those who picked the Broncos, here are some of the reasons why:

Merril Hoge: “The Broncos have too much flexibility and versatility with their wide receivers and the formations they will be able to create, and Manning uses that to manage the game.”

Ron Jaworski: “A fast start by Peyton Manning forces Seahawks to play from behind.”

Chris Mortensen: “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.”

Mike Ditka: “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 Seattle defense.”

The old saw about “defense wins championships” may not be so true anymore. Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young is among those who believe the game has changed.

“In a quarterback-driven league where 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.”

Many of ESPN’s analysts who have their roots on the defensive side of the ball are picking Seattle.

Herman Edwards: “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.”

Mike Golic: “I’m going to take defense over offense. If the refs let the teams play physically—and I think they will—Seattle has the edge.”

Ray Lewis: “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.”

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