NFL 

The Best of the Best: There Can Only be One

In any sport you want to see the top two teams or athletes go head-to-head to see who the definitive best is. Two teams or two competitors, who are at the top of their respective sport, want to show the world that they are the best. This Sunday, we will see just that in Super Bowl XLVIII.

The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will do battle at MetLife Stadium for the most prestigious prize in the game. The two best teams are left to settle the score, but only once can emerge victorious. Not only are they the two best teams because they are in the Super Bowl, but one team (the Broncos) led the league in offense, while the other team (the Seahawks) led the league in defense. This is the ultimate matchup to determine the victor.

Let’s start with Denver’s offense, which was spectacular this season led by quarterback Peyton Manning. The all-world quarterback torched the NFL secondaries this season for an NFL record 5,477 passing yards and 55 touchdowns. Manning threw just 10 interceptions and completed 68.3 percent of his passes. He overcame all the talk going into the postseason saying that he couldn’t win in the playoffs nor in the cold weather. Well he did both and is now seeking Super Bowl ring number two. If he and the Broncos are victorious on Sunday, he will become the first quarterback in NFL history to lead to two different franchises to Super Bowl victories.

The Denver receiving core was sensational this year, helping Manning achieve his success. Four different receivers caught at least 65 passes, accumulated at least 778 yards, and caught at least 10 touchdowns. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas led the way with 92 catches for 1,430 yards and 14 touchdowns. Eric Decker also reached the 1,000 yard plateau, grabbing 87 passes for 1.288 yards and 11 touchdowns. Wes Welker, who was acquired in the offseason after spending the majority of his career with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, snagged 73 passes for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns. Manning has always gotten his tight ends the ball and this year was no different, as Julius Thomas had 65 receptions for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns.

The rushing attack wasn’t too shabby, either. Knowshon Moreno rushed for 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns. Montee Ball was a quality draft pick this season as he rushed for 559 yards and four touchdowns. This offense ranked first in seven of 14 offensive statistics, were top five in the two others and top 10 in the other categories. This is one of the best offenses we have ever seen.

On the contrary to the explosive Denver offense is the sensational Seattle defense. The number one ranked defense allowed a league-low 273.8 yards per game; 172 passing and 101 rushing. Manning averaged 340.2 yards per game this season.  The Broncos averaged 37.9 points per game, but the Seahawks have allowed just 14.4 points per contest this season. The defense was full of ball hawks as it picked off 28 passes.

The defense of the Emerald City is led by the Legion of Boom, the secondary of the defense. Cornerback Richard Sherman, who has been all over the news for the past couple of weeks for his post-game comments following the NFC Championship game after he deflected a pass that would eventually be picked off, will play a big part. He trash talks, but backs it up. He claimed he was the best cornerback in the league and this year, he proved it with eight interceptions and 24 defended passes. This Sunday, he goes against one of the best quarterbacks planet earth has ever seen. You would think he would trash talk at that fact, but he has been respectable this week.

Sherman is joined in the secondary by free safety Earl Thomas who contributed 5 interceptions this season and Kam Chancellor, who picked off three passes on the season. Brandon Browner would be on this list of excellent secondary players, but he was suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Think that would affect the Seahawks? Think again. Byron Maxwell replaced Browner in the lineup and allowed an opposing passer rating of 47.3 in his seven games as a starter, second only to Sherman (39.6). Walter Thurmond and Jeremy Lane are key contributors to the Legion of Boom as well.

Denver led the league in yards after catch (YAC) while Seattle allowed the fewest YAC. Manning averages 7.8 yards per attempt. Seattle’s defense allows 4.6 yards per attempt on passes within 10 yards. The key to the game will depend on how much pressure, if any Seattle can get on Manning. He dropped back 79 times this post season and has been pressured just five times.

This Sunday we will find out who the best team in the NFL is. Will it be the Denver Broncos and their potent offense? Or will it be the Seattle Seahawks and their dangerous defense? Something has to give on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. It all comes down to this. It’s the best versus the best, but there can only be one.

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I am a 2013 graduate of Clarion University with a bachelor's degree in communications and a concentration in journalism. I aspire to be great. I love sports and professional wrestling. Follow me on Twitter @KIngEdward15 and engage in sports talk with me.

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