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January 20, 2014

Looking ahead to the Super Bowl

NORMAN — 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.

Definitely no upstarts here.

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.

“He’s been remarkable,” said Denver’s John Fox, one of six coaches to take two clubs to the league’s title game. “It’s unprecedented what he did.”

In a 26-16 victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game Sunday, Manning was pretty much flawless, going 32 of 43 for 400 yards with two touchdowns.

“Peyton played great today,” Brady acknowledged.

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. Hey, there he was on the screen, selling cars, during the broadcast of the NFC title game. Expect even more face time now.

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