The Broncos and Seahawks will go at it in Super Bowl 48 on Sunday evening in frigid New Jersey in a match up of the top offense in the NFL, which is Denver, against Seattle, which has the NFL's best defense.
The Broncos (led by Head Coach John Fox) averaged 37 points per game during the regular season, which has dipped to just 25 points per game during the playoffs.
Meanwhile, after allowing 15 points per game on defense to lead the NFL during the regular season, Seattle (led by Head Coach Pete Carroll) has yielded a similar amount (16 points per game) during the post season.
We all know about Denver quarterback Peyton Manning and the record setting season he had in 2013, throwing for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns.
The Broncos also boast five different players with at least 10 touchdowns scored in 2013, another league record to go with 606 points scored this year, which also established a new league record.
Manning is surrounded by a plethora of wide receivers, led by Demaryius Thomas (92 receptions for 1,430 yards and 14 touchdowns) and Eric Decker, who made 87 catches for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns. Throw in Wes Welker (73, 778, 10 TD) and tight end Julius Thomas (65, 788, 12 TD) and choose your weapon.
Can the Seattle defense stop that attack, much less contain it in the least bit?
The Seattle defense is ferocious and boasts the best pass defense in the entire league, which will try to slow down the Manning-led passing attack in the Super Bowl.
The Seahawks picked off a league high 28 passes this season, with cornerback Richard Sherman leading the way with eight interceptions. Earl Thomas had five picks as well. In comparison, Denver had 17 interceptions this season, with three players sharing the team lead with three picks each.
The Seattle offense doesn't get the attention like their much ballyhooed defense, but QB Russell Wilson put together another good season, despite struggling down the stretch as the Seahawks averaged just 19 points per game during the final four regular season games. The second year quarterback had a 101.2 QB rating while throwing for 3,357 yards and 26 touchdowns with just nine interceptions. He also rushed for 539 yards.
Seattle's passing attack doesn't quite measure up to Denver's but they do have Golden Tate (64 receptions, 898 yards and five TD) and Doug Baldwin (50, 778, five TD) leading the way along with Jermaine Kearse, who made the go-ahead touchdown against the 49ers with a 35-yard TD reception early in the fourth quarter two weeks ago. Versatile Percy Harvin is looking to be ready to go in the Super Bowl after being concussed against the Saints in the division playoffs.
The strength of the Seattle offense is the running game, which is led by Marshawn Lynch (1,257 yards, 4.2 ypc average and 12 TD), who has been at his "beast mode" best during the playoffs, which included two long scoring runs against New Orleans and another one (40 yards) in the win over San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game.
Denver can also run the ball with Knowshon Moreno (1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns) and rookie Monte Ball, who gained 559 yards for a 4.7 ypc average and scored four touchdowns.
The Denver defense has also picked it up since losing to the San Diego Chargers back in Week 15 of the regular season, when they were lit up for nearly 200 yards rushing in a 27-20 home loss.
The Broncos have allowed just 16.5 points per game in the playoffs and held the Chargers and New England Patriots under 100 yards rushing in the playoff victories. They will be up against a tough test in trying to do the same against Lynch.
On special teams, both squads have break away threats on kick returns as Denver has Trindon Holliday while Doug Baldwin had a huge 69-yard kickoff return for the 'Hawks in the NFC title game.
Both teams have strong kickers as well with the Broncos' Matt Prater missing just one field goal attempt (and no PAT kicks) all season long. In addition, Prater set a new NFL record by making a 64-yard field goal in early December. Seattle's Steven Hauschka missed only two field goals during the regular season and was also perfect on extra points.
PREDICTION - Look for a close game, unless turnovers dictate the outcome, which is always a possibility, especially if the weather (it is winter time in New York/New Jersey area) goes haywire.
Peyton Manning should be his usual brilliant self, but don't expect 400-plus passing yards against the Seattle "Legion of Boom" defensive secondary.
The key will be whether or not Denver can RUN the football consistently in the game.
If they do, watch out!
The Seahawks will definitely try to establish the run and a key for them will be if QB Russell Wilson can do some damage with his legs as well as his arm. Containing Wilson will be critical for the Broncos' defense as they try to pressure him in the pocket.
Avoiding turnovers is always the key factor in the Super Bowl. This game could very well come down to a late field goal.
SEATTLE 24, DENVER 20