NFL: Super Bowl will pit top offense vs. top defense
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning runs the NFL's No. 1 offense.
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is a key cog in the NFL's No. 1 defense. (Just ask him.)
That intriguing matchup will be one of the main Super Bowl story lines when the AFC champion Broncos (15-3) play the NFC champion Seahawks (15-3) on Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
According to STATS, it's the first NFL title game since 1991 pitting the team that scored the most points in the regular season against the team that allowed the fewest.
Providing quite a cap to the season, this marks only the second time in the last 20 Super Bowls that the No. 1 seed in each conference reached the NFL championship game. The only other such matchup since 1994 also involved Manning: His Indianapolis Colts lost to the New Orleans Saints in 2010.
Manning does own one Super Bowl title already, having led the Colts past the Chicago Bears in 2007.
Already the only four-time NFL MVP and expected to earn a fifth such honor when awards are announced the night before the Super Bowl Manning can become the first starting QB to win titles with two franchises.
And now, inevitably, the two-week buildup until the Super Bowl will be mainly about Manning, just as this entire season has. He is, after all, the player who set NFL records by throwing for 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards, helping Denver lead the league with 37.9 points and 457.3 yards per game. He is, already, an inescapable pitchman, seen Sunday after Sunday during TV commercials. Expect even more face time now.
Ol' No. 18's opposite number in two weeks, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, provides a real contrast as he seeks his and the Seahawks' first Super Bowl trophy.
The 6-foot-5 Manning is 37, in his 16th NFL season, a prototypical pocket passer who was a No. 1 overall draft pick after a stellar college career. Wilson is 6 inches shorter, 12 years younger, a skilled scrambler in only his second pro season after slipping to the third round of the draft.
"Any time you get to the Super Bowl," Wilson said after Seattle beat the San Francisco 49ers 23-17 on Sunday, "it's a special time."
Seattle's only other trip to the big game ended with a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006. Denver will be playing in its seventh Super Bowl and eyeing a third title, to go with those from 1998 and 1999.
Early betting lines have the Broncos favored by 1 point at several books, while others had them as high as a 3-point pick.