Well here it is, folks! The moment we’ve all been waiting for since early September – only two teams remain to duke it out for supremacy in the National Football League.
Will it be a moment of redemption for one of the greatest quarterbacks of our time, as he attempts to get his second Super Bowl in four tries, this after suffering potentially career-ending injury and criticism that his play has never been the same caliber?
Will it be the peak performance of an up-and-coming superstar that is due for his moment in the limelight after being told his team would likely finish last in their division this year?
Let’s go ahead and find out:
SUPER BOWL 50
Carolina Panthers vs. Denver Broncos
Okay, pretty much everything that can be written about this has been well covered over the past week. I’m only planning on giving my opinion of what this, the fiftieth Super Bowl, should entail.
I’m expecting plenty of grandstanding on Carolina’s part, mainly from outstanding quarterback Cam Newton. I’ve been touting his prowess all season long, and when they started off 7-0, lone in their unbeaten streaks alongside New England and Cincinnati, they still weren’t even validated. I think this is validation enough finally, proving that they could have one of the best seasons a team could ever have in the NFL. This, despite losing Stephen Hill, Kelvin Benjamin, Frank Alexander and Ryan Kalil going into the start of the regular season.
There really has been so much said about the divisive Cam Newton this week and a half, so I’d like to think he’ll put all the critics to bed by putting up a career performance. Alongside his receiver corps including Jerricho Cotchery and Ted Ginn, he’ll have the outstanding athlete Jonathan Stewart running alongside him to pick up whatever slack that might actually occur.
On the other side of the field is one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time concluding his career in his fourth attempt at a Super Bowl victory.
Peyton Manning is undoubtedly going to do his best to turn in a prime performance, and while I’m hesitant to compare it to his previous Super Bowl efforts…I’m certain it won’t start as sadly as his loss to Seattle was. An immediate fumble for a touchback Seattle two-pointer is not in the cards for Denver this time around.
I can see a much better troop here, with Cody Latimer and Emmanuel Sanders joining Demaryius Thomas on the receiver corps, so I expect more TD catches then previously. On the running game, they still have Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson, so they should be fairly set there. I think this will be a tight game, with the difference coming in the team’s defenses and special teams.
I certainly don’t expect this to be won simply by kicks, but if we compare them, Brandon McManus made all 7 of his attempts, the longest coming at over half a football field (52 yards to be precise) in the Broncos-Patriots win. Graham Gano was fine on his 3, making them all as well. In the regular season, they each made 30 field goals, with McManus having one extra attempt on Gano. So let’s move to defense. Luke Kuechly (Carolina) led the two teams with the most sacks, while Aqib Talib had 2 touchdowns returned on defensive plays. So they’re fairly even there as well.
So is there a way to predict this thing? Obviously, no, despite Madden’s typically concise virtual forecast calling it in favor of the Panthers. My gut agrees, and even though I like Peyton Manning and the Broncos (they’ve had the worst time in the Super Bowl, with a 2-5 record so far), I expect Carolina to finally fall over that hump and claim the first Lombardi trophy for Charlotte.