Seahawks vs Broncos: The key matchupsLoading
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    Here are the key matchups for the Super Bowl on Sunday between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium:

    Text by Barry Wilner/AP
  • CORRECTION Cowboys Seahawks Football
    When the Seahawks (15-3) have the ball:

    Beast Mode. And big plays. RB Marshawn Lynch (24, pictured) has been pretty much unstoppable in the playoffs after a late-season slump. He powered his way to 109 yards and a 5.0 average per rush against San Francisco's staunch defense in the NFC title game. His 40-yard TD run got Seattle back in the game, and he ran all over New Orleans the previous week.

    Denver has stepped up defensively on the ground, led by NT Terrance Knighton (94) — yep, "Pot Roast vs. Beast Mode" — and LBs Danny Trevathan (59) and Wesley Woodyard (52), and will be in excellent shape if it can slow Lynch.
    Kevin P. Casey | AP
    Seattle's offensive line struggled protecting Russell Wilson (3), but was fine when pounding it out against the 49ers. The Broncos aren't as physical or as deep defensively, and without LB Von Miller, there could be vulnerability.

    Then again, they are 10-0 without him as Trevathan has become a standout, DE Jeremy Mincey (57) has sealed the edge, and LB Shaun Phillips (90) and Robert Ayers (91) have ramped up their play..

    Where the Seahawks sometimes struggle is keeping pass rushers off Wilson. The key is to keep Wilson contained in the pocket. Once he gets outside, he will create big plays either running or passing..

    Jeff Siner | MCT
  • Super Bowl Seahawks Harvin Football
    Despite what some critics maintain, QB Wilson does have the targets to produce with his arm. Doug Baldwin (89) has been superb in the postseason, and Golden Tate (81) is just as formidable at wide receiver. Third wideout Jermaine Kearse (15) caught the 35-yard TD pass for the winning points last week..

    Denver's battered secondary handled Tom Brady quite well for the AFC championship, so it should ride a wave of confidence into the Meadowlands. Veteran DBs Champ Bailey (24), Tony Carter (32) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (45) will have a tougher time against these receivers than they did against New England.

    Don't underestimate the abilities of TEs Zach Miller (86) and Luke Willson (82) to get open and contribute, either. And if WR-KR Percy Harvin (11, pictured) is recovered from a concussion suffered against the Saints, it adds more speed and elusiveness for the Seahawks.

    Scott Takushi | AP
  • Super Bowl Seahawks Sherman Football
    When the Broncos (15-3) have the ball:

    The Seahawks ranked first in overall defense this year, yielding a league-low 231 points. All Denver did was score 606, shattering the previous NFL mark. Even juicier for this Super Bowl, Seattle was tops against the pass, which, of course, is a Peyton Manning (18) specialty. This is likely where the game will be decided.

    If Seattle's unequaled secondary led by All-Pros cornerback Richard Sherman (25, pictured with Manning) — yeah, the guy can talk, but he sure can play, too — and safety Earl Thomas (29), supported by terrific S Kam Chancellor (31) and emerging CB Byron Maxwell (41) can handle Manning's myriad receivers in man coverage, the Seahawks get a huge edge. .

    Of course, Seattle has not faced a QB like Manning, either. His 400-yard game against New England epitomized his sensational season.
    John Froschauer | AP
  • Patriots Broncos Football
    Manning will look for WRs Demaryius Thomas (88) and Eric Decker (87) in favorable matchups, especially on the outside, and for slot receiver Wes Welker (83) and TE Julius Thomas (80) over the middle. The Seahawks like to keep LBs Bobby Wagner (54) and Malcolm Smith (53) on the field as much as possible, so one of them could wind up against the dynamic Denver tight end. So might the now-healthy LB K.J. Wright (50). Manning will go there quickly to see if Seattle can handle Thomas. The Seahawks' defenders will play tight and tough on those targets.
    Joe Mahoney | AP
  • Eagles Broncos Football
    For those who haven't noticed, mesmerized by Manning and his record-setting performances, the Broncos have a running game. The question is whether that ground attack will get anywhere against Seattle, which held the 49ers' third-ranked rushing unit to 161 yards, 130 by Colin Kaepernick.

    The worry for Seattle is workhorse Knowshon Moreno (27), who can offer enough balance with his running to keep the opposition, well, off-balance. Moreno's work as a receiver out of the backfield gives Manning an astonishing five targets who caught 60 or more passes. All five also scored 10 or more touchdowns.
    Jack Dempsey | AP
  • Bears Broncos Football
    Special Teams:

    Denver PK Matt Prater (5) broke the NFL record with a 64-yard field goal and might have the strongest leg in the league. He shouldn't be bothered much by the swirling winds should they blow through MetLife Stadium.
    Jack Dempsey | AP
  • Buccaneers Seahawks Football
    Seattle's Steven Hauschka also is very reliable, although his range is not like Prater's. But he has made 17 of 18 field goals from 40 yards or longer.
    Elaine Thompson | AP
  • Super Bowl Football
    Coaching: .

    Seattle's Pete Carroll and Denver's John Fox both took over moribund franchises. Now look where they are.

    Both are strong motivators, although Carroll does it in more of a rah-rah style his players embrace..

    No team is more aggressive, especially on defense, Carroll's specialty, than the Seahawks. He had some success in a previous head coaching stint with the Patriots, then went to USC and won two national titles. Since returning to the pros, Carroll has done a brilliant job turning the Seahawks into a championship contender..

    Jeff Roberson | AP
  • Super Bowl Football
    Fox, who missed a month of the schedule after heart surgery, is smart enough to keep the reins very loose on Manning. His background is in defense, where the Broncos struggled until recently. His players and assistants credit his energy and easygoing manner with helping steer them through a season of potholes to get to the Super Bowl.

    Manning's legacy overrides many other elements of this game. He's already proven to be among the greatest regular-season players the NFL has seen. But he is only 1-1 in Super Bowls; hey, even his younger brother, Eli, is 2-0 in them.

    There's also the possibility, perhaps remote, that Peyton will emulate Broncos boss John Elway (pictured) and retire should he win a second ring. Elway said he doesn't see that happening.

    The Seahawks lost in their only previous Super Bowl, which adds to the franchise's hunger. They also recognize that in Super Bowls featuring potent offenses against stingy defenses, the defensive team usually wins.
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