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5 reasons to watch Super Bowl XLVIII

Peyton Manning smiles while standing on the sideline

Peyton Manning smiles while standing on the sideline against the Oakland Raiders. (Dec. 29, 2013) Credit: AP

1. Peyton's Place.

Two years removed from missing an entire season because of four neck surgeries that threatened his career, Peyton Manning, 37, is coming off the best statistical passing season in NFL history. And yet for all of his accomplishments he has won only one Super Bowl ring -- one fewer than his little brother Eli of the Giants. Manning's place in NFL history is secure, but one more Lombardi Trophy, won in Eli's home stadium, might stamp him the best quarterback ever to play -- not to mention give him equal bragging rights at family reunions.

2. Legion of Boom.

The marquee matchup in Super Bowl XLVIII will be the Broncos' Peyton Manning and the No. 1-ranked offense in the NFL against the Seahawks' No. 1-ranked defense, the first such meeting in a Super Bowl since the Giants defense held the Bills' high-flying offense in check 23 years ago. Seattle's defense comes with a nickname, "Legion of Boom," that reflects its hard-hitting, tough-talking style, led by famously mouthy cornerback Richard Sherman, who should thrive in the media spotlight that comes with Super Bowl week.

3. Generation Gap.

The generational and stylistic contrast could not be much more different between the quarterbacks in the big game. Peyton Manning was the first overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft, comes from a family of football royalty, is a future Hall of Famer and mostly sticks to the comfortable environment behind his offensive line. Russell Wilson, 25, was a third-round pick in 2012 and regularly makes plays -- or keeps them alive -- by scrambling away from defenders. Wilson was 9 years old when Manning was drafted.

4. Weather or not.

Since the day Super Bowl XLVIII was awarded to the Meadowlands in May of 2010, the potential for cold or otherwise inclement weather has been a source of speculation and fascination. Now that we know the teams involved, there is another reason to discuss it. Logic suggests very cold, windy or wet conditions would hurt the Broncos more than the Seahawks, given Denver's high-powered, pass-oriented approach. Seattle relies more on running the ball on offense, a style that could come in handy in a blizzard.

5. Cream of the crop.

The Broncos and Seahawks finished the regular season with the best records in their respective conferences. But seeing two No. 1 seeds reach the Super Bowl is not as common as you might think. The only other time it has happened under the current playoff format that began in 2002 was after the 2009 season, when the Saints defeated Peyton Manning's Colts. So while the first metropolitan-area Super Bowl will be without the Jets or Giants, or even a team from this side of the Mississippi, there is no quibbling with the quality of the matchup.

New York Sports