Super Bowl 2014: Top 5 Matchups In The Big Game

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Super Bowl XLVIII: The Big Game's Top 5 Matchups

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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

This is the best possible Super Bowl matchup fans could have received: the Denver Broncos versus the Seattle Seahawks. It's no surprise that the Broncos and Seahawks are in Super Bowl XLVIII. Both teams were favorites to make it to the big dance prior to the start of the 2013 NFL season. The Broncos slashed their way through the AFC with one of the greatest offenses professional football has ever witnessed. The Seahawks, with one of the league's best running games and the best passing defenses, climbed their way to the top of the NFC.

Denver and Seattle both hold No. 1 seeds, marking the first time in four years that both teams competing in the Super Bowl are No. 1 seeds from their respective conferences. The last time that happened, Peyton Manning played on the losing end on the NFL's biggest stage.

This is Seattle's second trip to the Super Bowl. Their last trip was during the 2005 season, when they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL. Denver is making their seventh appearance in the Super Bowl, which is tied for second all-time. The Broncos have won two Super Bowls; those wins came in the seasons of 1997 and 1998, which are also Denver's last appearances in the Super Bowl. Both of those Super Bowls were won with the team's current GM John Elway as the starting quarterback.

It has been clear for quite some time that the Seahawks and Broncos are the NFL's two best teams. We have been blessed recently with good Super Bowls, and this should be another classic game.

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5. QB Russell Wilson vs. QB Peyton Manning

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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

If Peyton Manning can top this season off with a Super Bowl victory, this will go down as one of the best seasons a quarterback has ever had, if not the best. This is Manning's third Super Bowl appearance, and he's looking for a second ring. Manning has shredded every defense put in his way this season, but the Seahawks pose as his toughest opponent this year. Seattle has the league's best secondary. The Seahawks could be the team to thwart Manning.

Russell Wilson, statistically, isn't having a phenomenal year, but he is clearly becoming one of the NFL's best quarterbacks. Unfortunately for Wilson, he's had to deal with several injuries to his team's receiving corps, which definitely attributed to his rather lackluster year. Although Wilson is only in his second year in the NFL, it doesn't seem likely that he will be overcome with nerves. He will deliver.

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4. RT Orlando Franklin vs. DE Michael Bennett

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Broncos possess one of the league's best offensive lines. A key part of that line is right tackle Orlando Franklin, who only allowed two sacks in the entire regular season. Franklin is scheduled to go up against Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who totaled nine sacks in the regular season. Bennett is also a force against the run, and Franklin isn't overly good in run-blocking situations. Watching these two square off will be fun.

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3. Broncos' Running Game vs. Seahawks' Defense

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Knowshon Moreno was injured in the AFC Championship game, so his status for Super Bowl Sunday is up in the air at this point. With the Broncos facing the league's best passing defense, it's very likely that they'll be running the football more than usual. Seattle has a pretty good run defense too; on average, the Seahawks' run defense allows 3.9 yards per carry. The Broncos' offense may have finally met its match.

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2. RB Marshawn Lynch vs. Broncos' Defense

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Byron Hetzler-USA TODAY Sports

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is one of the league's best running backs. He is a powerhouse and he is nimble. The Broncos have a very good run defense, but Lynch still has the ability to have a great game. If the Broncos can limit Lynch under 100 yards of rushing, their chances of winning could be very high.

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1. WR Demaryius Thomas vs. CB Richard Sherman

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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is easily one of the league's best. The Broncos' Demaryius Thomas is one of the NFL's top wideouts. Sherman picked off eight passes in the regular season. Furthermore, according to Pro Football Focus, quarterbacks have a rating of 47.3 when throwing in his direction. Thomas amassed over 1,400 yards of receiving, and he caught 14 touchdowns. This will be the most intriguing matchup of the entire game.


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