Super Bowl 50 is finally upon us, and we’ll get another epic matchup of offense against defense, and defense against offense. The Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos come into this game with two of the NFL’s most complete teams.
The Broncos ranked smack dab in the middle of the league in offensive rankings, despite quarterback Peyton Manning having an utterly embarrassing start to the season with 17 interceptions, they weren’t terrible. On defense, the Broncos have the number four scoring squad, and allow the fewest passing yards (3,193), and third fewest rushing yards (1,337).
The Panthers have the fourth best offense in the NFL, led by the most dynamic quarterback in the league. They were able to rush for 2,282 yards, second behind only the Buffalo Bills. Defensively, the Panthers have had a coming out season. The fourth best rushing defense allowed only 1,415 yards in 2015 while only allowing 3,752 passing yards (11th).
While the Broncos offensive stats aren’t the sexiest in the league, we have to remember the terrible start for Manning, and the fact that they relied on a backup quarterback for a considerable portion of the year. Taking those facts into account, we also must give the defense a bump. Now that the offense is able to fight its way out of a paper bag, the defense doesn’t have to play out of its mind to win a game.
With a stalwart defense and an improved offense, they come into the game ready to compete, despite being heavy underdogs.
The Panthers were able to get better in many areas: rush defense, pass defense, turnover margin, and of course, on offense. The team is clearly number one in the NFL at this point in the season.
Do we have the true top two teams? Maybe not. But they’ve both survived the NFL playoffs and appear to be the best two left standing. I don’t see many fluke wins for either team.
With the background being established, who will win? Why will they win?
The Denver Broncos will win the game. I know a team that that is currently a heavy underdog, with the oldest quarterback to ever start a Super Bowl, and a lot of uncertainty surrounding how healthy players will be is a tough pick to make. But I’m making it. Why? It’s the NFL, and I don’t tend to choose where the money is going to these types of games.
The Broncos have a wealth of experience on their roster, notably at quarterback. They’ve played in a Super Bowl in the past three seasons, and that bodes well for them.
Specifically, the biggest factor in this game will be the Denver defense. The most significant factor on said defense, the pass rush. They hit Tom Brady more times than any quarterback had been hit all season in the AFC Championship. They did it without bringing an insane blitz package. The Broncos hit Brady on 12 of 39 pass plays that they brought only four guys. That means that the secondary can stay put and cover the wide receivers, that limits the ability to find anyone open and, in turn, makes the night miserable for any quarterback.
What does that mean for Newton and the Panthers?
If the Panthers cannot stop the four-man rush, it will force Newton to use his legs to win, which he’s exceptionally good at. But that also means the Broncos can save a guy to spy on the quarterback and make a tackle stop big gains. That will limit the dual-threat QB’s ability to burn the Broncos.
Not stopping the four-man rush should also scare the heck out of Panther fans. When the Broncos let linebacker Vonn Miller run free after the quarterback, Newton could get taken to the ground extremely hard.
The best way to break quarterbacks will to run? Hit him a lot and hit him hard. That’s he gameplan for the Broncos defense. Any mistakes from Newton will sway the game in Denver’s favor.
On offense, the Broncos will have to find a way to break coverage against a feisty secondary. Josh Norman – Demaryius Thomas should be a great battle on the outside, one that could determine the game. If Thomas can use all of his talents to break the field, the Broncos can then look for their tight ends and running backs for short yardage touchdowns.
The Broncos defense will force some mistakes from the Panthers offense, and they’ll ultimately stifle them enough to get ahead in the game. On offense, Manning does enough to get the win and proves that he’s not too old to be dangerous.
Manning walks off into the sunset with a heroic 27-20 win in Super Bowl 50.