Falcons’ starters: Quarterback Matt Ryan (Pro Bowler). Wide receiver Roddy White and Julio Jones (Pro Bowler). Tight end Tony Gonzalez (Pro Bowler).
Falcons’ key reserves: Harry Douglas, Drew Davis and Michael Palmer. Luke McCown is the backup quarterback.
Seahawks’ starters: Left cornerback Richard Sherman, right cornerback Brandon Browner, free safety Earl Thomas (Pro Bowler) and strong safety Kam Chancellor.
Seahawks’ reserves: Safeties Jeron Johnson, Chris Maragos and Winston Guy. Cornerbacks Marcus Trufant, Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane and DeShawn Shead.
Matchup to watch: Jones and White vs. Browner and Sherman.
After season-ending injuries to Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond last season, the Seahawks had no other choice but to turn to fifth-round pick Richard Sherman.
They have been pleased with the results as the second-year cornerback from Stanford has ascended to star status and is generally considered one of the top cover corners in the league.
Over 26 regular-season starts, he has 12 interceptions and 51 passes defensed. He’ll take White or Jones, whomever shows up on his side of the field.
Browner is a massive at 6-foot-4 and 221 pounds. The Falcons enjoyed some success against him in last season’s 30-28 win on Oct. 2, 2011. He had trouble with White and Jones as he had to honor their speed.
White and Jones were targeted 28 times and caught 17 passes for 205 yards in the last meeting.
“They’re both very physical,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “They’ve got very good size.”
Sherman and Browner will get some help from Seattle’s fine safeties, Chancellor and Thomas.
Normally, White would be fired up about a marquee matchup, but he’s focused on the big prize.
“As long as I continue to help my team, get out there put up good numbers and stuff like that, at the end of the day, you want to put up good numbers, but you do want to win the Super Bowl,” White said. “That’s the ultimate goal and if I can do that, it will be well worth it.”
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