There is no question that both the Broncos and Seahawks are sound in all areas: offense, defense and special teams. But who has the advantage at each individual position? That's where we come in. Below is how these two teams compare. Keep in mind the great equalizer that can be the weather, though. Sometimes it becomes more about who manages conditions better than who has more talent, an X factor that's impossible to predict.
QUARTERBACK: Peyton Manning vs. Russell Wilson
advantage – Broncos.
Manning is on fire this year, putting up what is undoubtedly the best season in NFL history by a passer. Wilson is a budding star and an excellent playmaker, especially in the clutch, but he's clearly not on Manning's level of dominance by any stretch. That's not an indictment, by the way, you could argue Manning is the best ever.
RUNNING BACK: Knowshon Moreno/Montee Ball vs. Marshawn Lynch/Michael Robinson/Robert Turbin
advantage – Seahawks. The Broncos' running game works in part because Moreno is very good, but in part because Manning strikes the fear of God in anyone that prepares for him. The difference is, everyone knows the Seahawks are going to run the ball and they still can't stop it. One word: Beastmode.
WIDE RECEIVER: Demaryius Thomas/Eric Decker/Wes Welker/Andre Caldwell vs. Doug Baldwin/Golden Tate/Percy Harvin/Jermaine Kearse
advantage – Broncos: One of the more pronounced advantages if you go position by position, but the Seahawks' strength is in coverage so that will be an interesting matchup. Still, Manning's weapons are a big reason why he's been so good this year. Percy Harvin healthy does give a lot more potency to the Seahawks' passing game, though, so that may level the playing field a bit.
TIGHT END: Julius Thomas/Jacob Tamme/Joel Dreessen/Virgil Green vs. Zach Miller/Luke Willson/Kellen Davis
advantage – Push: Zach Miller is probably the most polished all around player of the ones listed above and he's a solid player for the Seahawks that does everything pretty well, but the Brocnos use a lot of players in different ways to get the most of the tight end position. The Broncos can plug any of their four guys in and get some production, but Thomas has really come on in the playoffs in the passing game. This one is about even.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Chris Clark/Zane Beadles/Manny Ramirez/Louis Vasquez/Orlando Franklin vs. Russell Okung/James Carpenter/Max Unger/J. R. Sweezy/Breno Giacomini
advantage – Broncos: Even without Ryan Clady, their star left tackle, the Broncos' o-line has been outstanding all season long. They have been all world in pass protection to keep Manning clean, and they have opened up lanes to really get the running game going. The Seahawks, by contrast, have been mired by injury and inconsistency all season. But it's coming together at the right time, so this Seattle o-line has a big of a sleeping giant feel to it.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Malik Jackson/Sylvester Williams/Terrance Knighton/Shaun Phillips vs. MIchael Bennett/Chris Clemons/Brandon Mebane/Tony McDaniel/Cliff Avril
avantage – Seahawks: The Seahawks are pretty scary from top to bottom on the D line. Brandon Mebane is a complete player and one of the most underrated in the league, and Tony McDaniel is excellent against the run, while Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett pace a very steady pass rush. Shaun Phillips is the big name on the Broncos' D line that also does a good job rushing the passer and stopping the run. Ultimately the Seahawks are just a little more well rounded top to bottom.
LINEBACKERS: Nate Irving/Wesley Woodyard/Danny Trevathan vs. Bruce Irvin/Bobby Wagner/Malcolm Smith
advantage – Seahawks: Not having Von Miller is a big deal for the Broncos, who is the one guy you have to account for on every single snap. Without him the Broncos linebackers are steady but unspectacular. Trevathan is a tackling machine and Woodyard can make plays on occasion. Similarly the Seahawks' core is solid but not infallible led by Bobby Wagner's tenacious play. Ultimately the edge goes to Seattle because the Broncos are missing Von Miller who is the centerpiece of that defense.
CORNERBACKS: Champ Bailey/Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie/Quentin Jammer vs. Richard Sherman/Byron Maxwell/Jeremy Lane
advantage – Seahawks: This one is closer than most people think, and that's not to critize the Seahawks. Sherman is arguably the very best corner in the league, and Maxwell is highly underrated. But the Broncos' corner trio has been very good this year as well. Champ Bailey is no spring chicken but DRC has had a great season and Quentin Jammer has had a bit of a resurrection with his new team. I still think the Seahawks are stronger in coverage, but don't sleep on the Broncos here either. Even without Chris Harris they have guys that can play.
SAFETIES: Duke Ihenacho/Mike Adams vs. Kam Chancellor/Earl Thomas
advantage – Seahawks: This is a blowout. The Thomas/Chancellor duo is excellent in coverage, hits a tons, and causes major disruptions to opposing offenses. An area where the margin of talent is much more pronounced than other positions.
KICKER: Matt Prater vs. Steven Hauschka
advantage – Push: Hauschka has missed two kicks all year and Prater has missed one. These are two of the very best in the business and they've made clutch kicks all season. Any miss inside 50 from either player would be a shock, they've been automatic all year.
PUNTER: Britton Colquitt vs. Jon Ryan
advantage – Broncos: It doesn't seem like Colquitt gets much work because the Broncos' offense is always scoring, but when he's called upon he's rock solid. These two have about an even net average this year, but this is one of the worst of Colquitt's career and one of the best of Ryan's career. Colquitt's leg is a big stronger.
RETURN GAME: Trindon Holliday vs. Golden Tate/Doug Baldwin
advantage – Broncos: Holliday is the ultimate high reward, high risk player. Ball security is a major concern but he's as explosive as it gets. He can blow a game wide open just as much as he can cost his team severely. Either way, in a big game like this he figures to potentially make a significant impact. Holliday has two returns for scores this season, and the Seahawks have none, although Tate does a great job on punts.