Super Bowl 50
Carolina Panthers vs. Denver Broncos
Panthers by 5.5; O/U: 44.5
TV: Ch. 2; Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9)
Super Bowl 50 between the Broncos and Panthers is a battle of Old vs. Newton, Super Mann vs. Superman. Peyton Manning, 39, is trying to win an elusive second Super Bowl title and most likely pull a John Elway and ride off into the sunset. Cam Newton, 26, the NFL’s likely MVP, has lived up to his jersey number with a remarkable season, and he’s looking to add a Super Bowl trophy to go along with his national championship.
This game is about more than the two quarterbacks, but in the end, their play will have the biggest factor in determining who lifts the Lombardi Trophy. That’s the biggest reason why I don’t think this will be a close Super Bowl. One quarterback will struggle to generate offense against an under-the-radar defense. The other quarterback will have success against the game’s best defense because of his dual-threat ability. All the Newton haters out there might want to make other plans, because you’re going to see a lot of celebrating and kids getting footballs.
Here are a few reasons why I see the Panthers dominating Super Bowl 50:
1. Their offense is firing on all cylinders. After scoring an NFL-high 500 points during the regular season, the Panthers scored 80 in the playoffs. That’s 31 points (all in the first half) against Seattle, followed by 49 against Arizona. That was against the second and fifth-ranked defenses.
2. Look at what they did against Arizona two weeks ago. Not including kneel-downs, of their 11 offensive possessions, Carolina scored five touchdowns and kicked two field goals.
3. As explosive as their offense has been, the Panthers’ defense has been lights out. Did you know they were the NFL’s sixth-best defense, allowing 322.9 yards per game, and 19.2 points per game, also sixth best? They made Carson Palmer look more like Carson Daly, forcing him into four interceptions and two fumbles in the NFC Championship Game.
4. No respect. The Panthers weren’t even favored by three at home in the divisional round, as many thought the Seahawks would win. Before the season, I didn’t even give Carolina a shot to win its division because I thought the loss of No. 1 wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin would be too much to overcome. Only now, after the way it has played in the playoffs, are people finally realizing how well-balanced and strong Carolina really is. In case you forgot, it is 17-1.
5. Enough gushing about the Panthers. Let’s talk about the Broncos. Particularly their offense. I just don’t see them scoring enough points to hang with the Panthers. Half of their 14 possessions during the AFC Championship Game were three-and-outs. I picked the Patriots to win big in Denver, and it was clear that I underestimated the Broncos’ top defense, especially its game-changing pass rush. But they won’t do to Newton what they did to Tom Brady. His ability and escapability will Newt-ralize Denver’s rush.
I just can’t envision a scenario in which Denver keeps this close. I’m not the only one who is picking Carolina to win comfortablly, and when everyone is on one side, the other side is usually the correct play. But I don’t see it. I thought Manning would win his last two trips to the Super Bowl when he was at the top of his game. Both were losses. Now, you expect a different result when he’s nowhere near that caliber? Newton and the Panthers will prove Sunday night that 18-1 could be a perfect finish, while Super Bowl 50 will be another Super Bowl ‘L’ for Manning and the Broncos.
The pick: Panthers 35, Broncos 10