Super Bowl 50 Preview
By RYAN KAMBER and NICK ALBICOCCO
Super Bowl 50’s matchup between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers has the makings of a classic, which seems only right for a game half a century in the making. The Lombardi Trophy is up for grabs, and we have reason to believe that it’s anyone’s game…
Nick’s 5 Reasons Why Denver Will Win:
- The Secondary
After getting embarrassed in Super Bowl XLVIII, the Broncos set out to improve their defense. Two years later, they boast one of the league’s top secondaries. The defense has many talented players, including cornerbacks Chris Harris and Aqib Talib, and safeties TJ Ward and Darian Stewart. Carolina’s wide receivers are not household names, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Broncos shut down the Panthers’ passing attack.
- Pass Rushing Linebackers
The Broncos feature two of the best pass rushing linebackers in the NFL: Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. Miller had 2 sacks and an interception in the AFC Championship Game. During the postseason, he and Ware stifled legendary quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady.
- Peyton Manning’s Playoff Experience
The legendary quarterback has talked about this being his final game. While Manning has the reputation of being a poor playoff performer in recent years, he has experience playing in the Super Bowl, while Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton has never played on a stage this big, so the pressure may get to him.
- Dynamic Duo at Wide Receiver
Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders combined for 181 receptions this season from an injured Peyton Manning and backup quarterback Brock Osweiler. Whichever receiver isn’t covered by All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman should be in line for a big game.
- The Panther’s Injury Bug
The Panthers’ top ranked defense has caused havoc all season long, but injuries have ravaged the defense. Cornerback Charles Tillman is out with a torn ACL, and while linebacker Thomas Davis (broken arm) and defensive end Jared Allen (broken foot) will play, both will be less than 100%. The injuries will allow Manning more time in the pocket to find receivers.
Ryan’s 5 Reasons Why Carolina Will Win:
- Cam Newton
A heavy favorite for league MVP, Newton gets it done with both his arm and his legs throwing for over 4000 yards, rushing for almost 700 yards, and scoring fifty total touchdowns (38 passing, 12 rushing). He is almost certain to have a huge game on America’s biggest sports stage.
- Josh Norman
Norman has been a revelation this year. The All-Pro Cornerback has locked down some of the NFL’s most elite receivers this season. I expect Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to suffer the same fate.
Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis are the best linebacker combination in football. Both were All-Pro selections this season. A combined 253 tackles from the pair in the Panthers’ eighteen games this season should definitely pose a threat to a mediocre Broncos offense. Speaking of which…
- Peyton Manning
It’s time we face the facts. The 39-year-old signal caller has seen better days. Manning has thrown more interceptions (17) than touchdowns (11) this season and even saw himself benched at one point this year. While he is likely to go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, Manning seems destined to falter against the Panthers stifling defense.
- Greg Olsen
The Panthers’ passing attack has been stellar this year without last season’s leading receiver, Kelvin Benjamin. A huge reason for that is Greg Olsen. The 30-year-old tight end led the Panthers in receiving yards with a career high of 1,104 which is also good for the second highest total among NFL tight ends behind Rob Gronkowski. Olsen has been an unstoppable force this season and will show no signs of slowing down in the biggest game of the year.
Photos by Fox Sports and The Charlotte Observer