NFL Preview - Denver (2-0) at Seattle (1-1) (ET)
(SportsNetwork.com) - A little over seven months has done little to lessen the sting for the Denver Broncos.
Sunday could be a different story as the Broncos will get a chance to exorcise the demons of Super Bowl XLVIII when they travel to the Pacific Northwest to take on the NFL champion Seattle Seahawks.
It's only the sixth time in NFL history in which the regular season will feature a rematch of the previous Super Bowl, a 43-8 Seahawks drubbing of Denver at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.
"This is what we've been waiting for," Broncos wide receiver Andre Caldwell said.
The Broncos will arrive in Seattle 2-0 after Peyton Manning threw three touchdown passes in a 24-17 win over Kansas City a week ago.
Manning finished 21-of-26 for 242 yards against the Chiefs, while Emmanuel Sanders caught eight passes for 108 yards and Demaryius Thomas hauled in five receptions for 62 yards and a score for Denver, which also fended off the Indianapolis Colts, 31-24, in Week 1.
Manning has already thrown six touchdowns with no interceptions so far this season, a year after he threw a record 55 TD passes for the first offense in history to break the 600-point barrier.
Manning's counterpart with the Seahawks, Russell Wilson, has four touchdowns without an interception in 2014 after a two TD, no turnover performance in the Super Bowl victory.
"This is going to be a challenging game facing Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos," said Wilson, who has an 18-1 record as a starting QB in Seattle. "They're a very good football team."
The Seahawks come in after a rare loss, a 30-21 setback in San Diego. Wilson converted 17-of-25 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns in that one as Seattle had a five-game winning streak snapped that dated back to last season and included the three-game run to win the Lombardi Trophy.
"They did a really good job on third downs. They just sustained drives and kept us off the field offensively," Wilson said of the Chargers.
Robert Turbin and Marshawn Lynch each caught touchdown passes from Wilson, while Percy Harvin rushed for 45 yards on two carries with a touchdown in the loss.
The Broncos already did extract a bit of revenge by winning the preseason opener for both teams back in August and they lead the all-time regular-season series between the two clubs by a 34-18 margin.
"I'm sure this is a really important game to them again. As it is to us," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "I think there was something going on in the preseason. I think it was a big deal for them. I don't blame them one bit."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Here's what the Broncos are up against: Wilson is 18-1 as the Seahawks starter at CenturyLink Field and he has thrown 34 touchdowns against just seven interceptions in those games. The Seahawks defense, meanwhile, has allowed only 13.3 points per contest in those 19 games, allowing more than 20 on just two occasions.
Denver, meanwhile, hasn't been quite as explosive offensively early this season, averaging 343.0 total yards per game after amassing nearly 460 per game in 2013. Part of the issue has been the absence of slot receiver Wes Welker, who was reinstated from suspension this week and practiced for the first time since Sept. 1.
"There's not a lot of 58-0 games in this league," Denver coach John Fox said. "(The lack of offense) is all a concern but when you look at the first quarter of our season, every team is a 10-win team. One's the defending Super Bowl champs and we trot to their place this week."
Welker's return came sooner than expected after the NFL and the NFLPA agreed to a new performance-enhancing drugs policy, which cut the veteran's suspension for amphetamine use in half.
Welker, who had 73 catches and a career-high 10 touchdowns last year, rejoins a receiving unit that boasts Pro-Bowler Thomas, Sanders, who leads the team with 14 catches for 185 yards, and tight end Julius Thomas, who has four TD receptions in two games.
Manning, meanwhile, leads the NFL with a 126.5 passer rating through the first two contests.
Of course defense beat offense in the big game back in January as Seattle's stop unit smothered Manning and Co.
For the first time in a long time, though, the group looked human in San Diego last week, something which may not bode well for the Broncos.
"They're quiet. They're quiet and serious," said Carroll. "We don't take these (losses) easily. There are very high expectations that we live with here and everybody knows that. The main thing is everybody took to heart the changes and adjustments and the things that we can fix."
Even All-Pro Richard Sherman, regarded by most as the best cornerback in football, looked shaky in San Diego, struggling with the short-area quickness and route-running ability of Keenan Allen.
Offensively for Seattle, Wilson seems to have taken another step forward this season and has a stellar passer rating of 114.7. The addition of Harvin, who was injured for most of last season, as a multi-pronged threat is keeping opposing defenses on their toes.
Revenge is usually a strong motivational tool and if this game were in Denver, you would almost expect the Broncos to bring their A-Game and get at least a modicum of vengeance. The Seahawks just don't lose in front of the 12th Man, however, and nothing changes this week.
"I don't think anybody's playing their best football of the year after Week 2," Fox said. "And I'd say it's a fair assessment that we aren't, either. That's something that you try to do is improve every day and every week."
Sports Network predicted outcome: Seahawks 31, Broncos 21