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Best against best

Broncos' offense, Seahawks' D makes for compelling Super Bowl

They both flourish because they do their homework. Forget the silly “Omaha” stuff. Manning’s real genius is his work ethic, relentless film study, and tendency to address whatever puzzle a defense throws at him and always find open guys. It helps to have Wes Welker, Eric Decker and the Thomas guys (Julius and Demaryius) to throw to, each of them match-up nightmares.

Just the same, Seattle’s defense has owned opponents with sheer depth, shaking off injuries and suspensions by putting together a heavy rotation in the front seven that causes havoc. Plus, Sherman is a brilliant corner, quickly able to read and dissect pass patterns and then shut them down, if anyone is foolish enough to throw at him. Wild guess – Manning is not foolish.

This leaves the other parts of the game as an undercard, but don’t forget them. Denver’s defense has played its best in the post-season, as Tom Brady can tell you about. They will deal with the improvisational Russell Wilson and a diverse Seattle offense that will want plenty of Beast Mode from Marshawn Lynch in order to be fully effective.

Each coaching story is rich, too. John Fox, in Denver, overcame criticism of his play-calling in that epic Baltimore playoff loss, not to mention a life-threatening heart attack that sidelined him for a month this season, emerging with the same positive spirit. His presence made a big difference the second time around against New England.

Pete Carroll, nearly two decades after the Jets (unfairly) fired him after just one season in his first head-coaching gig, brings it full circle with his Seahawks. Carroll just missed the Patriots dynasty and then built a superpower at USC, having a lot of fun along the way. He lets his players be themselves, and they take it to heart, never giving anything less than an all-out effort.

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