Peyton Manning has been on an absolute mission this season, shattering the all-time records for passing yards (5,477) and touchdown passes (55). His Denver Broncos are 13-3 and rolling, beating the San Diego Chargers before crushing the New England Patriots in the playoffs.
Manning leads an offense that is the most prolific in NFL history, scoring the most points in a single-season. For the first time, five different players on the Broncos offense have double-digit touchdowns, including Knowshon Moreno, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, Julius Thomas and Demaryius Thomas.
Speaking of Demaryius Thomas, he will likely be covered most of the night by Richard Sherman, Seattle's top corner. Sherman is hands-down the best at his craft, making this matchup one of the best on the field. Thomas is a man-child at 6'3 and 230 pounds. He has 92 catches for 1,430 yards and 14 scores on the season, displaying his dominance almost every week.
However, as Kenneth Arthur of Field Gulls points out, if Thomas is held in check, his team generally is as well:
Thomas had under 50 yards just twice this season, and the Broncos were 0-2 in those games. They are 15-1 when Thomas has 50 yards. In last years playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens, he was held to three catches and 37 yards.
Which is probably why you won't see him on Sherman for the whole game. Sherman has walked the walk.
PFF has tracked 29 cornerbacks that have played at least 25% of their team's defensive snaps in the postseason and Sherman is sixth in snaps (134) but where does he rank in yards allowed? Catches? Touchdowns? Well... He hasn't allowed a touchdown, or a yard, or a catch.
The Broncos could get Sherman off of Thomas by putting him in the slot, but that also puts the receiver in a spot he isn't used to. Without question, it's one of the great battles to watch on Sunday night.