Shawn: Super Bowl 50 is today. Continuing a trend for the last five Super Bowls, the Green Bay Packers will not be there.
That is unfortunate. However, before you commence with gnashing of teeth and rending of garments over that fact, consider that 50 of these have now been played and the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns have never played in a single one.
Who will be there are two teams that smacked the Packers and sent them spinning towards mediocrity — the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers are favored by around 5 points going into this. As far as the match-up on paper goes, the Broncos match-up very well. They bring the No. 1 ranked defense in the NFL into the game, and that is usually a harbinger of success in this game. Ironically,two years ago the Broncos brought the No. 1 offense into the game to play against the Seattle Seahawks’ No. 1 defense, and the Broncos were summarily embarrassed in 1989-type fashion.
Historically, top-rated defenses typically have the advantage when matched against top-rated offenses. The Broncos can do something that most teams that have faced the Panthers have not been able to do, and that is stop the run. They can also get after Cam Newton and have the kind of athletes on the outside who can run with Newton and get him down.
Of course, the Panthers can also play a little defense, and the Broncos haven’t exactly been dynamic on the offensive side of the ball.
Personally, I think this is likely to be a defensive ball game. The two keys are probably the first 15 minutes and Peyton Manning. If the Broncos are tied or leading after the first 15 minutes, then they will be in good position to win this game. The Panthers have been getting out early on teams and forcing teams to play catch up. The Broncos are not equipped to play catch up. Peyton Manning was so bad this season, he was benched. He hasn’t been great in the postseason, but he has been good enough for the Broncos to get by.
Manning is 1-2 in Super Bowls and played terribly two years ago. If he plays poorly here, the Panthers’ defense will shut the Broncos down and set up their offense for easy scores. The Broncos cannot afford that. If Manning can play a solid game, then the Broncos have a good shot to win this game.
I think there are a lot of good reasons to pick the Broncos. However, the Panthers are on a roll. I thought the Seahawks and Cardinals matched up well with them too. Those teams got smashed. I think it would be crazy to pick against the Panthers now.
Panthers 24, Broncos 16
Monty: I’m simply going to look at this from a wagering perspective because I give no shits about either of these teams.
The line opened at 5for Carolina and got up to 8 in some places. The early money was going toward the Panthers and with good reason. They’re a pretty damn good team. It looks like the late money is being bet on the Broncos because the line is now back to 5 and even 4.5 in some places.
If you can still get 8 somewhere, run there and throw some money on Denver.
While I do not think Denver is the better team, I do think they can at least keep this game close. And if they do keep it close, then they have a chance to win.
It’s that defense.
The Broncos defense is outstanding. Is it 2000 Ravens or 1985 Bears good? We’ll find out today, but I think this Denver defense is close to those two units.
They can slow down Cam Newton and they can slow down the Carolina rushing attack. We all know, from watching him against the Packers, Newton isn’t the most accurate passer. If the Broncos make Carolina one dimensional on offense, the Panthers aren’t going score a lot of points like they did against Arizona and Seattle.
That gives the Broncos a fighting change.
Look, I have zero confidence in Peyton Manning. Not only was he garbage this season, but he’s always been a playoff choker. His one Super Bowl win came over a Bears team led by none other than Sexy Rexy Grossman.
I mean, c’mon.
The thing is, a great defense can win a Super Bowl for a mediocre quarterback. Just ask Trent Dilfer.
I won’t go so far as to pick Denver, but I most definitely would bet them.
In fact, I predict Peyton will have a chance to win it at the end and will fail to come through.
Panthers 21, Broncos 17