ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Go on, look for a glaring weakness in the Seattle defense.
Hard to find, isn't it?
It's not up front. If you didn't know it before Super Bowl XLVIII, you knew it then, with Cliff Avril leading the charge that led directly to a pair of first-half interceptions. Avril and Michael Bennett can generate pressure, and the two have already combined for four sacks and 14 quarterback hurries this year, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Although three of the sacks came against a Green Bay offensive line weakened by injuries, this remains a potent duo capable of capitalizing on a tiny misstep.
It's not on the back end. Richard Sherman is brash, but one of the most physical cover cornerbacks in the game. Byron Maxwell and Marcus Burley are helping fill the void created by Brandon Browner's departure. And safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are disruptive, as was seen in the Super Bowl, beginning with Chancellor's first-quarter hit on Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. It's not on the back end. Richard Sherman is brash, but one of the most physical cover cornerbacks in the game. Byron Maxwell and Marcus Burley are helping fill the void created by Brandon Browner's departure. And safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are disruptive, as was seen in the Super Bowl, beginning with Chancellor's first-quarter hit on Denver's Demaryius Thomas. The safeties give the cornerbacks leeway to be aggressive; they can gamble knowing that the deep middle is secure.
"Everybody in their secondary, they just fly around," said Demaryius Thomas. "They fly around, they're always around the ball, they're trying to strip it and they pin big hits on you. So I think that's the main thing. You don't really see a secondary that flies around and hits people that hard like they do."
The Broncos wide receiver admitted that he has not seen a better safety combination than Chancellor and Earl Thomas.
And if you think the weakness is among the linebackers, guess again. Recall last year's preseason game at CenturyLink Field, when Bobby Wagner sprinted past Montee Ball and crushed Peyton Manning as he threw. Or Malcolm Smith's adept grab of a pass that was affected by Avril's hit in Super Bowl XLVIII. Smith and fellow linebacker K.J. Wright struggled in coverage against San Diego's Danny Woodhead and Antonio Gates last week, but that game could be a mere aberration.
"Those linebackers are probably the ones that people forget about—that's a good group of linebackers," said Broncos Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase.
"This defense as a whole -- you're talking about three teams in the history of football: the '85 [Chicago] Bears, the 2000 [Baltimore] Ravens and these guys. That's where these guys ranked in defensive football," said Gase. "These guys are one of the best teams to ever play and they are trying to show it again this year."
You can throw the 1976 Steelers, the best defense of the NFL's pre-rules-change "dead ball" era, in as well. The point is that the Seahawks defense of 2013 is in the conversation for the best in league annals relative to the league-wide standards of that year, and most of the key personnel remains in place.