By: Monte Perez
When I think of Super Bowl 50, I think of the movie Dirty Grandpa. Peyton Manning would be Robert De Niro. They were both once the headliner, now they are a co-stars. Cam Newton is Zac Efron, a young, talented, good looking celebrity who is on the rise.
Manning is 39 years old, Newton is 26. It is the largest age difference between starting QB’s in Super Bowl history. (It is also the first time in the history of the Super Bowl in which QBs drafted NO.1 overall will face each other…Newton was drafted in 2011, Manning in 1998).
The Broncos defense has been sensational all season. They were the stingiest in the league, giving up 283 yards per game. They have the unique ability to defend the run and the pass. Against the New England Patriots, the Broncos hit Tom Brady 20 times over 4 quarters. This defense has speed/power and no real weaknesses.
Manning threw the ball for 48 yards in the second half of the AFC championship game. This is a totally different role for him. For years he carried teams with his offense.This team is winning despite below average quarterback play. Manning was second in the league with 17 interceptions and had his lowest completion percentage (59.8) since his rookie year.
Newton has carried the Panthers all season long. He has put this team on his back and led them to a 15-1 record. His stat line is worthy of an MVP. Newton threw for 3,837 yards, rushed for 636 yards, had 45 total touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. Tight End Gregg Olsen led the team with 77 receptions and Ted Ginn had 44 catches. Jonathan Stewart rushed for 939 yards to lead all running backs. As you can see, this is a team that doesn’t have a lot of stars on offense.
On defense, Carolina has unique play makers. Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis continue to be one of the best linebackers in the NFL that the casual fan doesn’t know about. The two combined for 223 tackles on the season. They are fast and fierce and defensive back Josh Norman is a lock down cornerback. Davis has a broken arm but expects to play on Sunday.
Both Carolina and Denver were the number 1 seeds going into the playoffs. They have lived up to the hype and they both deserve to be here. The Broncos played a Steeler team that was decimated with injuries. Pittsburgh was using their 3rd string running back and wide receiver Antonio Brown(136 receptions) was sidelined with a concussion. When they played the Patriots they were facing a team that had absolutely no running game.
They won’t be that lucky in Super Bowl 50. The Panthers have a two headed rushing attack with Newton and Stewart. Most experts say Carolina doesn’t have any elite wide receivers, yet they keep getting open and as a unit they are very productive. Denver has a great defense, they are one of three teams to not allow a rushing touchdown by a quarterback. Carolina led the NFL with 40 takeaways.
The difference here is offense, in order for the Broncos to win they must keep Newton off the field. They must run the ball and Manning can’t turn the ball over. The Panthers were ranked 4th on defense against the run and 11th against the pass. They were on the bottom of the league in allowing passing plays over 20 yards are more. But here is the rub, Peyton can’t throw the ball down the field with any consistency, so that shouldn’t be an issue. The thing Denver needs to do is throw deep to open up their running game but with Manning behind center, that is not an option.
For years we heard the phrase defense wins championships, but that is no longer the case. Peyton has become a “game manager” and they no longer win Super Bowls. You need an elite quarterback and Newton is playing the best at that position right now. If life were a fairy tale I would have won the billion dollar power ball last month and Peyton would win this game and retire. Life is not a fairy tale and either is the NFL…. The Panthers have the number one offense and they will prove all their “haters” wrong on Sunday…Carolina wins this game 34-20.
Follow the Sports Whisperer on Twitter:Montetjwitter11
and listen to the Monte Cristo Sports Things on WRNJ Radio, Thursday Night at 7pm