Super Bowl XLVIII: Important Names You Should Know

Russell S. Baxter@@BaxFootballGuruContributor IJanuary 22, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII: Important Names You Should Know

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    In less than two weeks, the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos will square off in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium.
    In less than two weeks, the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos will square off in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium.Tim Donnelly/Associated Press

    There’s more than a week to go before Super Bowl XLVIII.

    The Seattle Seahawks are in pursuit of their first Lombardi Trophy and look to become the 19th current franchise to win a Super Bowl title.

    The Denver Broncos will be searching for their third NFL title and first since 1998.

    By the time Feb. 2 rolls around, we will all get to know every member of both of these teams.

    So here’s a head start, as if it was really needed, when it comes to knowing some of the key figures that will participate in the NFL’s prom of proms.

    Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find out something here that you may not have known about each of these club's biggest faces.

    Of course, in a week and a half, we will have the final answer when it comes to the 2013 NFL season.

    Finally, here's a shoutout to Pro Football Focus (subscription required) and Pro Football Reference for their usual outstanding statistical support.

QB Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson wears No. 3. But two is the operative numeral in many aspects to this Super Bowl.

    Two, as in second season for Wilson, who has guided his team to the playoffs in each of his NFL campaigns and now has the franchise one win away from its first NFL title.

    While no rookie signal-caller has ever led his team to or started in a Super Bowl, Wilson is the sixth quarterback (and second straight) to guide his team to the Big Game in his second NFL campaign.

    Colin Kaepernick did it a year ago with the San Francisco 49ers (XLVII). Dan Marino (Miami Dolphins, Super Bowl XIX), Kurt Warner (St. Louis Rams, Super Bowl XXXIV), Tom Brady (New England Patriots, Super Bowl XXXVI) and Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers, Super Bowl XL) round out the list.

    Although comparing any second-year quarterback to a player that’s been on the field for a decade and a half is somewhat futile, there is at least one thing Wilson has in common with Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

    Seattle’s current field general has thrown exactly 26 touchdown passes in each of his first two seasons.

    Manning has never thrown fewer than 26 touchdown passes in any of his 15 campaigns on the field.

QB Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

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    Does this Man(ning) really need an introduction?

    Two years after sitting out 2011 due to numerous neck surgeries, quarterback Peyton Manning’s second season with the Denver Broncos is on the verge of being one of the greatest in the league’s 94-year history.

    The prolific passer threw for 5,477 yards and 55 scores this past season, both single-season NFL records, while being picked off just 10 times. He’s followed that up with four touchdown passes and one interception in the playoff sweep of the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots.

    Manning, with 64,964 yards and 491 touchdown passes, now trails only Brett Favre on the league’s all-time list in terms of passing yards (71,838) and touchdown tosses (508).

    In 22 postseason games, Manning has thrown 22 interceptions. However, his 6,309 yards passing trails only Tom Brady (6,424) on that all-time list. And the Denver signal-caller has thrown 36 career touchdown passes in the postseason, trailing only Hall of Famer Joe Montana (45), Favre (44) and Brady (43).

    Still, it’s the championship ring that Manning and his team seeks. And if he and the Broncos pull this off, Manning will become the first quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl with two different franchises. Of course, he pulled the trick with the Indianapolis Colts seven years ago in Super Bowl XLI.

    Yep. That ought to do it for now.

RB Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks

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    While he is certainly partial to the candy, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch does anything but skittle down the field with the ball.

    It’s been a joy to watch Pete Carroll’s workhorse pile up mounds of rushing yards these last two seasons. Including playoffs, the one-time Buffalo Bills first-round pick has totaled 100 or more yards on the ground in 16 of 36 outings.

    In six playoff games, all with the Seahawks, Lynch has rushed for 560 yards and six touchdowns. That includes a 2010 NFC Divisional Playoff loss to the Chicago Bears in which he was limited to two yards on four carries before leaving the game. Lynch has scored at least one touchdown in four straight postseason contests.

    In this Super Bowl matchup, it’s interesting to note that both the Denver Broncos and Seahawks allowed exactly 1,626 yards rushing (101.6 yards per game) during the regular season.

    But you can also bet that Seattle will test that Denver defense early and often. And if Lynch gets on one of his rolls, it could be like taking candy from a baby…

    Snicker, snicker.

WR Wes Welker, Denver Broncos

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    In six seasons prior to his arrival in the Mile High City this season, wide receiver Wes Welker caught a combined 672 passes for the New England Patriots and assisted them in their appearances in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI.

    These last few days, we’ve been hearing all about what the current Denver Broncos wideout did to block the Patriots' chances of reaching Super Bowl XLVIII.

    However, the focus here is on what Welker can do against arguably the best secondary in the league and not arguably, the NFL’s top-ranked defense in terms of total yards allowed and passing yards allowed.

    There is not a lot of Super Bowl experience on either side of the ball in this upcoming matchup. But in two appearances on the NFL’s big stage, the crafty wideout has totaled 18 receptions for 163 yards. Let’s not forget that Welker is the co-owner of the Super Bowl record for most receptions in a game (11), set in the New England Patriots’ stunning loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

    In a pair of playoff games this season with the Broncos, Welker has pulled down 10 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. Let’s see how big he comes up, if needed, in this clash with the league’s best pass defense.

LT Russell Okung, Seattle Seahawks

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Strictly by coincidence, this is the third Russell mentioned in this piece. What’s in a name, anyway?

    Shameless plugs aside, Seattle Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung was a Pro Bowl performer in 2012. However, the former first-round pick missed eight games during this regular season, one of many issues Pete Carroll’s offensive line has faced in 2013. That lack of continuity added up to an up-and-down year for Okung, as you can see thanks to Pro Football Focus.

    Including their playoff wins over the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers, the Seahawks have allowed three or more sacks in five consecutive games. In last week’s win over the Niners, Okung gave up one of the four sacks on quarterback Russell Wilson.

    In Super Bowl XLVIII, the massive left tackle will be lining up against Denver Broncos right defensive end Shaun Phillips, who led the team with 10 sacks during the regular season and two more in the playoffs.

CB Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks

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    It’s almost tempting to not include any text in this slide and just let Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman do all the talking.

    There’s been mixed reaction to the Pro Bowl cornerback all week following his chatter after the team’s 23-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers.

    However, the focus here is on what he does on the field. And statistically speaking, it’s officially a lot.

    Sherman led the National Football League with eight interceptions in 2013. Since entering the league as a fifth-round draft choice from Stanford in 2011, he’s totaled a NFL-high 20 interceptions.

    Now the talented defender and his “Legion of Boom” will try to lower the boom on Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and his record-setting 55 touchdown passes during the regular season.

    In 2013, the Seahawks gave up just 16 scores though the air and picked off 28 passes. Pete Carroll’s club led the NFL with 39 takeaways this past season.

    Will Super Bowl XLVIII turn into a clash between Manning and Sherman? It’s doubtful that it will be that simple.

    But we can always talk.

Head Coach Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    It’s all about consistency.

    Pete Carroll has been the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks for four seasons. While he’s taken the team to the playoffs in three of those four campaigns, it’s the last two years that have obviously made the greatest impressions.

    Speaking of consistency, the Seahawks finished 7-9 in each of this first two years at the helm. And although that first year resulted in an NFC West title, better things were expected.

    Expectations have been rewarded. A year after an 11-5 season and wild-card berth, the Seahawks captured a division title and the NFC’s No. 1 seed with a 13-3 record in 2013.

    Seattle has allowed the fewest points in the league each of the last two seasons. For the second straight year, Carroll’s club finished with the NFL’s 17th-ranked offense. In 2013, the Seahawks were fourth in the league in rushing and 26th in passing. The previous season, the club was third in the NFL in rushing and 27th in passing.

    Now the well-traveled coach hopes to lead this franchise to its first-ever Super Bowl title in the current home of where Carroll began his NFL head coaching career in 1994 with the New York Jets.

Head Coach John Fox, Denver Broncos

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Here’s quite a list.

    Don Shula, Bill Parcells, Mike Holmgren, Dan Reeves and Dick Vermeil. There are two members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Shula and Parcells) and three other coaches whose accomplishments need no words.

    Now add John Fox to that list. Ten years ago, he led the Carolina Panthers to Super Bowl XXXVIII and now guides the Denver Broncos to Super Bowl XLVIII. Along with the other five men mentioned, Fox becomes the sixth head coach to take two different franchises to the Super Bowl.

    Including the postseason, the longtime coach has amassed a 115-90 overall record with the Panthers (78-74) and Broncos (37-16). He becomes the fourth different head coach to lead Denver to the Super Bowl, joining Red Miller (XII), Dan Reeves (XXI, XXII and XXIV) and Mike Shanahan (XXXII and XXXIII). The last time the Broncos were in the Super Bowl was 1998, when Fox was defensive coordinator of the New York Giants.

    Now it is time for him to be in the spotlight once again. Nearly three months ago, he missed some time with the team due to a heart procedure. His return and the team’s success have made for one of the league’s better stories in 2013.