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Seahawks, Broncos are well-matched for Sunday’s battle

Sports Reporter

Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 23:01

Richard Sherman Super Bowl Football NFL

John Froschauer | Associated Press

Cornerback Richard Sherman (left) shakes hands with quarter Peyton Manning (right) after their preseason match in August. Analysts believe this game will come down between these two: Denver Bronco’s offense versus Seattle Seahawks defense.

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We have made it – the Mecca of football.

Super Bowl XLVIII.

The ultimate showdown between the NFL’s best defense and best offense: The Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos, respectively.

Yet, the last time these two ball clubs saw each other was in a mid-August preseason matchupwhere Seattle dominated Denver in a 40-10 rout. But many football fans dismissed the early victory because they claim preseason games are irrelevant.

That notion is wholly plausible because the odds are that preseason favoriteswon’t win the Super Bowl. The Green Bay Packers were chosen as preseason Super Bowl picks, and we all know that the 49ers sent them home the first round of the playoffs.

So, it’s fine if you believe preseason has no bearing on the actual season because in most cases, it doesn’t.

Until now.

ESPN gathered its seasoned body of NFL analysts, insiders and hosts to predict the two teams that would play in SB XLVIII and its winner. Both the Seahawks and Broncos garnered eight votes each to have the honor bestowed upon them.

Talk about a draw.

Except Seattle Seahawks will be the victor of this contest.

The Broncos are only the favorites because Peyton Manning is commanding the offense with his dynamic receiving corps, comprised of Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas.

This group set an NFL record in 2013, racking up 606 points while Manning threw 55 passing touchdowns and four receivers caught 10 or more of those touchdowns.

This offense can be a tough animal to tame.

Let’s not forget about Manning on the line of scrimmageeither. While the word “Omaha!” has become the word of choice, the actual word that describes his style at the line of scrimmage is ‘hurry.’ The Broncos spew out 72 plays per game –another statistic in which they lead the NFL.

“For whatever reason, our offense plays better the faster we go,” Manning said to the Denver Post. “Anything we can do to make us more efficient as an offense, that's what we're looking to do.”

However, the Broncos aren’t the only ones who harbor speed.

The Seahawks’ secondary, which functions under the moniker “Legion of Boom,” has thwarted offenses throughout the NFL with their uncharacteristically large safeties and cornerbacks, but most of all, with their aggressive style of play.

The most storied member of L.O.B is Richard Sherman, the “All-Pro Stanford graduate” who picked off eight passes for the season. His most recent came in the waning seconds of the NFC Championship against the 49ers. Colin Kaepernick sought receiver Michael Crabtree in lockdown coverage in the end zone to attempt the final dagger to the Seahawks – or so it appeared.

Sherman used hyped speed against a “mediocre” Crabtree to tip the pass to safety Earl Thomas to hold off San Francisco 23-17 to advance to the Super Bowl.

As the self-proclaimed best corner in the game, Sherman has made a habit of tearing down receivers on the field with his lockdown coverage and patented trash talk – just ask Crabtree. If Sherman denying a game-winning pass isn’t frustrating enough, there’s always a body-rocking boom to level your physical foundation.

Seattle can also rely on their offense run by dual-threat quarterback Russell Wilson. While the jury is out on him deserving the label of elite, one thing is for certain: he can make something out of nothing.

Wilson was steel-solid in third down conversions this season, particularly with long-shots over 11 yards.  Of the 31 passes he attempted over 11 yards, he completed 20.  He converted on 64 percent of third downs in general. When you think his time on the field is over, he can unload an all-out aerial attack on you and have someone catch the ball while falling effortlessly into the end zone.

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