The Super Bowl is perhaps the most celebrated extravaganza in the United States, and this year’s spectacle marks its 50th. So what a way to commemorate Super Bowl 50 with a match-up between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. Arguably the best regular season quarterback in NFL history Peyton Manning (39) vs. the hottest young quarterback in the game today, cam Newton (26). The difference in age between the two is the greatest in Super Bowl history. Cam and company are the favorites to raise the Lombardi Trophy.
The last time these two quarterbacks faced each other was during the 2012 season at Carolina. Peyton Manning threw for more than 300 yards, while his counterpart threw for two touchdowns and two picks. That Denver defense created havoc, sacking Newton seven times. Carolina’s run game was non-existent as they would rush for only 52 yards. The Broncos won that game 36-14.
The tide has changed significantly since then. Denver’s defense, believe it or not, got better. However, Manning is merely a fragment of what he was in 2012. During that season, Manning passed for over 300 yards nine times, something he’s only accomplished once this season. Newton, on the other hand, is making his case as the quarterback of the future with career numbers. Responsible for 45 combined touchdowns (35 passing, 10 rushing), Newton is expected to be the league’s MVP. In addition, Carolina has revamped its running game significantly from the last meeting.
Please allow me to break down both teams and give my prediction.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (Regular Season: 15-1)
The Panthers’ season started off with bad news concerning wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. He suffered a season ending knee injury during training camp. Carolina would have to rely on a stout defense, as well as healthy tight end in Greg Olsen. The offensive line, needing to operate out of solidity, did just that, allowing running back Jonathan Stewart to have a pro bowl year. The defense was true to form, but what really got Carolina over the hump was Cam Newton. As their captain, Newton had to manage his arm as well as his legs in order to play all 16 games. The Panthers finished the regular season with the NFL’s best record, number one scoring offense and sixth best defense.
This will be the first time Denver will face a quarterback like Newton this season. Newton’s ability to score by passing and rushing will create serious problems for that Broncos defense. Newton will not be intimidated by them even if they are the league’s best unit. If you don’t believe me, ask the Seattle Seahawks. That 31 point first half thrashing was something else. Ask the Arizona Cardinals if Cam Newton will be fazed by their defense? Newton performed well, in the postseason, against the second and fifth ranked defenses in the NFL. The way this offense is playing with Newton, how can they be stopped?
DENVER BRONCOS (Regular Season 12-4)
We know what Carolina’s quarterback Cam Newton has done this season. But lets appreciate what the Broncos’ defense has accomplished. That defense has beaten Tom Brady and Phillip Rivers twice, Aaron Rogers, Matthew Stafford, Teddy Bridgewater, Joe Flacco and Jay Cutler. All dangerous quarterbacks! They defeated five teams that made the playoffs this season. That defense is only allowing 3.3 yards per rushing attempt.
There are all sorts of scenarios that will have one believe Carolina will win. They are the younger group, with more talent, and the league MVP in Newton. But the Broncos always seems to be in every game and most of the time, they win the close ones. They attack every quarterback they face.
Quarterbacks all year have been reluctant to throw to receivers covered by defensive backs Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. They try to go at Bradley Roby as a consolation. Roby has proven to be a formidable back up who is often used as a safety. His tackling ability makes the defense dominant against the run.
WHO WILL WIN
Carolina seems poised enough to win. They have a sure thing in Cam Newton. The Panthers have it all with a strong running game that compliments the dual-threat quarterback and a top tier defense. Turnovers could decide this game; something that the Panthers forced masterfully during the playoffs. If they can do that in Super Bowl 50, I see the Panthers cruising to a 27-14 win over the Broncos.
Written by Keith S. Madyun