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Super Bowl story lines

Denver's best offensive player

Of course it's Peyton Manning, whose 2013 statistics border on ridiculous: 5,477 passing yards and 55 touchdowns against just 10 interceptions. But half of those interceptions came during the fourth quarter, and he faces a defense that had an NFL-high 28 picks during the regular season, including eight by outspoken cornerback Richard Sherman.

Seattle's best offensive player

You could go with second-year quarterback Russell Wilson, but we will choose Marshawn Lynch 1,277 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. He gained 5.0 yards per carry in both postseason games after doing so just four times during the regular season.

The other matchup

You know Denver's offense led the NFL in scoring at 37.9 points per game and Seattle's defense led the NFL in scoring at 14.4. What about the other halves? Seattle tied for eighth in scoring offense at 26.1 points per game while Denver ranked 19th in scoring defense at 24.9 per game.

Denver's defense didn't hold anyone to fewer than 17 points in its first 14 games. But in its past four, it gave up 13, 14, 17 and 16 points — an average of 15.0 — while Seattle allowed 14.5 in the same four-game span.

Seattle's offense has struggled of late. It hasn't scored more than 27 in any of its past six games. And quarterback Russell Wilson has been quiet, with five total touchdowns over the past six games while throwing for 215 yards or fewer. Then again, the Colts' Andrew Luck threw for only 228 and the Chargers' Philip Rivers 166 in beating Denver.

Where Denver is vulnerable

Kickoff returns? The Broncos sent 73 percent of their kickoffs for touchbacks, second best in the NFL.

When they were returned, however, the Broncos gave up an NFL-worst 29.2 yards per return, including an 108-yard touchdown. The problem for Seattle is it was fifth worst in kickoff return average. Then again, Percy Harvin (who is healthy and playing) returned only one kickoff this season … and went for 58 yards.

Where Seattle is vulnerable

The defense has few holes, but one is the deep ball. In two of its three losses, Seattle gave up long pass plays: a 73-yard touchdown catch by Indianapolis' T.Y. Hilton and 63-yard catch by Arizona's Brittan Golden.

So keep an eye on Denver's Demaryius Thomas, who had four catches of 60 yards and longer.

Record in jeopardy?

Seattle's secondary makes it unlikely, but given Peyton Manning's season, you might wonder what the Super Bowl record for passing yards is: Kurt Warner's 414 in St. Louis' win against Tennessee in XXXIV.

Warner actually has the other top three totals: 377 in Arizona's loss to Pittsburgh in XLIII and 365 in St. Louis' loss to New England in XXXVI.

Longest kick

We're calling this one: Denver's Matt Prater will kick the longest field goal in Super Bowl history.

The record is 54 yards, set by Buffalo's Steve Christie 20 years ago. That's the only kick longer than 51 yards. Prater had five field goals of 53 or longer this season, including an NFL record 64-yarder on Dec. 8 against the Titans.

Also, in Prater and Seattle's Steven Hauschka, the game has the league's two most accurate kickers in 2013. Prater hit 96.2 percent, including 6-of-7 from 50 yards and longer. Hauschka hit 94.3 percent, including 3-of-3 from beyond the 50 — though his long was just 53.

One more to watch

Most penalties in a Super Bowl? The combined record is 20 — rung up by Dallas and Denver in Super Bowl XII with Dallas sharing the team mark of 12. Seattle led the league in penalties (7.9 per game) and penalty yards (72.8) this season. Denver was among the top six in both, meaning flags could be flying.

In particular, expect them in the passing game. Seattle's defense was second in the league with 13 pass interferences (plus another 11 holds), and Denver was second with 13 holds (plus another 10 pass interferences).

Greg Auman, Times staff writer

Super Bowl story lines 02/01/14 [Last modified: Saturday, February 1, 2014 9:50pm]
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