Richard Sherman, Seattle: There have been eight 5,000-yard passing seasons in NFL annals, and six have occurred since 2011. Into this pass-wacky moment steps the Seattle secondary, the league's best by yards allowed and yards per pass allowed, near the top in all other measures. Sherman is Seattle's best defender, and may be the most important man on the field at the Super Bowl: more important even than Peyton Manning. Bonus factor: His postgame diatribe after the NFC title contest was pretty silly, but the reaction was even sillier.
Danny Trevathan, Denver: Manning and his offensive line are the core of the Broncos, but Denver posted a reasonable defensive season despite the no-huddle offense often scoring quickly then sending the defense back out. Trevathan led Denver with 87 unassisted tackles -- the closest teammate compiled 58 -- and his 10 passes defensed is a high number for a linebacker. Bonus factor: Trevathan was drafted by Denver with a pick the Broncos obtained from Jersey/B in the Tim Tebow trade.
Louis Vasquez, Denver: Denver allowed a league-low 20 sacks in the regular season; Manning has yet to be pulled down in the playoffs. Manning has been hit once every 14 dropbacks; the typical NFL quarterback is hit once every seven dropbacks. Quick release is one reason it's so hard to reach Manning. Superior blocking is the main reason. As recently as December, your columnist thought Zane Beadles was having the Broncos' best year at OL. Vasquez has been spectacular in the playoffs, near perfect pass blocking and run blocking without help (Beadles has been double-teaming with the center). Bonus factor: The Broncos have been around for 53 years, and Vasquez is their first guard chosen to start in the Pro Bowl.
Stats to Ponder No. 1: Denver possession results in the postseason: five touchdowns, five field goals, two turnovers, two kneel-downs, one missed field goal and one punt.
Stats to Ponder No. 2: Discounting for the kneel-downs, Denver has scored on 10 of 14 postseason possessions.
Stats to Ponder No. 3: Seattle opponents' possession results in the postseason: eight punts, four touchdowns, four turnovers, two missed field goals, two turnovers on downs, two clock expirations at the end of a half while attempting to advance the ball, one field goal and one kneel-down.
Stats to Ponder No. 4: Discounting for the kneel-down, Seattle has allowed a score on five of 24 postseason possessions.
Stats to Ponder No. 5: If the Broncos prevail, they will be the second team to lead the NFL in passing yards and also win that season's Super Bowl. So far only the 1999 Rams finished first in passing and also won the Super Bowl. If the Seahawks prevail, their 26th rank in the NFL in passing yards will be the lowest ever for a Super Bowl champion. So far the 2005 Steelers, at 24th, are the worst team for passing yards to win the Super Bowl. Stat from reader Jeff Caveney of New York.
Stats to Ponder No. 6: The Broncos are the NFL's highest-scoring team ever. Of the previous 10 highest-scoring teams, only the 1999 Rams won the Super Bowl that season.
Stats to Ponder No. 7: Not only did the Colts defeat both the Super Bowl entrants, the Colts are the sole team on either the Seahawks' schedule or the Broncos' schedule that they did not beat this season (including the playoffs). Stat from reader Jack Epstein of New York City.