The Denver Broncos will be taking on the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII Sunday, Feb. 2. Seattle bring in the NFL's best passing defense, while Denver possess the top aerial threat. The game could come down to the All-Pro matchup between Richard Sherman and Demaryius Thomas.
**All stats from ESPN.com unless stated otherwise**
Demaryius Thomas vs. Richard Sherman
I am assuming the Seahawks will be using Sherman against Thomas no matter which side of the field he lines up on. This is the strategy they used against the 49ers with Michael Crabtree. They will need his big physical presence to try to contain Manning's favorite target.
Sherman has made it clear who he believes the best corner back in the game is. To his credit he looked the part against the 49ers. He stepped up and made the biggest play of the game in crunch time.
Sherman held Crabtree to just four catches for 52 yards on eight targets.
The big difference between Thomas and Crabtree is pure speed. Thomas's speed is often overlooked due to his size.
Crabtree and Sherman are on level footing when it comes to speed. Both ran a 4.54 in the 40 yard dash. On the other hand Thomas ran a 4.38. If Thomas gets a step on Sherman in a one-on-one matchup he will be off to the races.
Sherman will not have as much help coverage over the top due to the Broncos' other receiving threats. Similar to last year's NFC divisional round game against the Falcons.
In that game, Roddy White was able to get a step on Sherman and burn him for a 47-yard touchdown reception. Look for Thomas to do the same as Thomas is bigger and faster than White.
Thomas is quickly becoming one of the top receivers in the NFL. His persona is the complete opposite of the man that will be talking his ear off all game. He just quietly goes about his business and lets his game do the talking.
Here is what Broncos' coach John Fox had to say about Thomas on Monday according to the Denver Post:
"First off, he's just a wealth of talent. He is big, physical, strong, fast — all the things you look for athletically. I think he has worked extremely hard. Our quarterback is a fairly demanding guy, and I think it has really helped Demaryius in his growth."
Thomas led all wide receivers in touchdowns with 14 this season and was fourth in the NFL with 1,430 yards receiving. He torched the Patriots for seven catches, 134 yards, and a touchdown on Sunday.
The Broncos will win this matchup and Super Bowl XLVIII.
Thomas Prediction: six catches, 115 yards, one TD