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Super Bowl 2014: Top Storylines Heading into NFL's Title Game

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman gives a thumbs-up as he leaves team's headquarters, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, in Renton, Wash., to board a bus for his flight to play the Denver Broncos in the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Ted S. Warren/Associated Press
Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2014

Last year, it was brothers Jim and John Harbaugh coaching against one another. Two years ago, it was a Super Bowl rematch between the New England Patriots and New York Giants. Every year, the two weeks before the Super Bowl are inundated with storylines and compelling matchups to study and dissect.

So what are those storylines this year? What can you expect to read about, watch and listen to ad nauseam in the days before the Super Bowl?

Here's your storyline primer, folks. Enjoy.

 

The Weather

Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Ever since a New Jersey Super Bowl was announced—you can call it a New York Super Bowl all you want, but the game is being played in Jersey—the weather has been a storyline, as the game will be played outdoors.

Will it snow? Will the outdoor conditions favor one team (in this case, the Seahawks, who rely on a stout defense and strong running game) over the other? Would you even want tickets to an outdoor, winter Super Bowl?

Pretty much everyone outside of Denver and Seattle is hoping for a snowy Super Bowl. It would make the event so much more memorable and iconic. Don't expect the weather chatter to pipe down anytime soon.

 

Peyton Manning's Legacy

Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

You could make a very compelling argument (and some among us would say a very true argument) that Peyton Manning is already the greatest quarterback to play the game. His numbers speak for themselves, as does his Super Bowl victory with the Indianapolis Colts.

Still, he is always going to be compared side by side with Tom Brady, who has three titles. But as his brother, Eli Manning, told Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, Peyton has a pretty rock-solid legacy:

I think Peyton has already created his own legacy. He’s played at a very high level for a long period of time. He’s overcome injuries and obviously set numerous records, been on a lot of playoff teams, and is playing in his third Super Bowl.

There’ll always be arguments, ‘Who’s the greatest?’ or ‘Who’s the best?,’ ” Eli continued. “I think if you’re in that argument, if you’re one of the names thrown around up there, I think he’s already created a pretty good legacy.

Sure, there is some bias there. They are brothers, after all. But Eli isn't wrong—his brother is already in the conversation as the greatest quarterback in NFL history regardless of what happens in this Super Bowl. And that shouldn't be forgotten, even if the Seahawks win the title.

 

Richard Sherman

For the past two years, Richard Sherman has been the best cornerback in football. In the span of about 30 seconds after the NFC Championship, he also became one of the most notorious players—if not the most notorious playerin the NFL.

He talked to Rachel Nichols of CNN about the reaction to that interview:

But while all eyes and ears will be on Sherman leading up to this game—and he's a smart dude, so he probably won't make the week about himself but will instead keep it focused on his teammates—he also will likely spend much of the game matched up against wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, a very tough assignment.

The Broncos have a ton of playmakers, but Thomas is a home run hitter. Sherman will once again be asked to walk the walk, and if he does, you can bet he'll relish the opportunity to talk the talk afterward. 

 

The League's Best Offense vs. the League's Best Defense

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19:   Demaryius Thomas #88 celebrates his third quarter touchdown with  Eric Decker #87 of the Denver Broncos during the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014
Elsa/Getty Images

The Broncos led the NFL in yards and points per game this year. The Seahawks led the NFL in yards allowed and points allowed per game this year. This is a dream matchup between the league's best offense and its best defense.

Trying to figure out which unit will win the battle is the most compelling storyline from a strategic standpoint. On one hand, the Broncos have waves of weapons, from Demaryius and Julius Thomas to Wes Welker, Eric Decker, Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball. Oh, and that Manning fellow.

On the other hand, the Seahawks have the best secondary in the league and a slew of smart but big and physical defensive backs. 

It promises to be a fun matchup. 

 

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