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It doesn't take long to find a compelling matchup in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Fresh off an NFL-record 55 passing touchdowns and propelling four receivers to double-digit scores on the year, Peyton Manning and the Denver offense will face the Seahawks and their vaunted "Legion of Boom" secondary.
It's a matchup NFC East Lead Writer Brad Gagnon feels is the game's most critical:
A lot has been made about this being the league’s top-rated offense against the top-rated defense, but if we get a little more specific, there’s one matchup that is about as compelling as it gets.
The Broncos have the deepest, most talented receiving corps in the NFL as well as one of the league’s all-time best quarterbacks throwing the passes. But the Seahawks have, without a doubt, the most talented defensive backfield in the game.
For those of us who savor the individual matchups within the ultimate team sport, it’s as good as it gets.
You’ve got Seattle's Richard Sherman, who led the NFL with eight interceptions and is generally considered to be the league’s top corner, against Denver's Demaryius Thomas, who topped all receivers with 14 touchdown grabs and 697 yards after the catch during the regular season.
Opposing quarterbacks posted a passer rating of only 47.8 against Seattle's Byron Maxwell during the regular season, which, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), ranked second in football to Sherman. But he’ll have his hands as full as ever with Eric Decker, who ranked within the top 15 in terms of yards and catches this year.
Broncos tight end Julius Thomas was voted to the Pro Bowl after scoring 12 touchdowns in 2013, but he’ll probably have to deal with Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, who might have been Seattle’s best player in their NFC Championship victory over the 49ers. But Earl Thomas and slot stud Walter Thurmond aren’t bad either. PFF listed both Chancellor and Thomas within the top 14 among safeties in coverage.
Thurmond, who, according to PFF, gave up the fifth-fewest yards per slot cover snap in the NFL in 2013, will likely have some fun matchups with Wes Welker, who has made a living by killing defenses from that same spot.
Expect an ongoing epic battle between Denver's Thomas, Decker, Welker and Thomas against Seattle's Sherman, Maxwell, Thurmond, Chancellor and Thomas.
That’s a lot of Thomases and a ton of talent.
Just imagine if the Seahawks still had Brandon Browner…