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January 27, 2014

Broncos and Seahawks travelled divergent paths to Super Bowl

From Tribune wire services

The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks showed there are two different routes to the Super Bowl.

The Broncos did it with offense. They rolled up the most yards (457.3 per game) in the NFL this season and scored more points (37.9 per game) than any other team in NFL history. Quarterback Peyton Manning’s 5,477 passing yards and 55 touchdowns were the most in NFL history.

The Seahawks did it with defense. Seattle allowed the fewest yards (273.6), fewest points (14.4) and fewest passing yards (172.0) per game and had the most takeaways (39), interceptions (28) and best turnover differential (plus-20) in the league in 2013.

Add it up either way, and each team finished 13-3. And next Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J., they will form the first matchup of No. 1 seeds in the Super Bowl since the 2009 season, when Manning’s Indianapolis Colts lost to New Orleans in Super Bowl XLIV.

This will be only the second Super Bowl since 1970 in which the top-ranked offense meets the top-ranked defense. Tampa Bay’s No. 1-ranked defense defeated Oakland’s No. 1 offense 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII.

And this will be the fifth Super Bowl since 1970 that the top-ranked scoring defense meets the top-ranked scoring offense. The top-ranked scoring defenses are 3-1 in those games.

Pittsburgh’s top-ranked defense beat Dallas in Super Bowl XIII; San Francisco beat Miami in Super Bowl XIX; and the New York Giants beat Buffalo in Super Bowl XXV. The only top-ranked offense to win was San Francisco over Denver in Super Bowl XXIV.

But the days of defenses winning championships changed in the 2000s with new the rules favoring offenses and with the proliferation of more sophisticated passing games led by Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Manning.

Could the Seahawks reverse the trend and go back to old-school defense winning the Super Bowl?

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