Coming up with a sound Super Bowl 50 prediction was a little bit tricky.
Some Super Bowls are easier to predict than others, but overall, the big game typically features two very sound football teams with more strengths than weaknesses. Therefore, bringing the ideal match-ups (or mismatches) to the forefront can sometimes be a challenge.
Super Bowl 50 is especially unique, considering the rosters of the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos. The quarterback matchup of Peyton Manning and Cam Newton features the largest age gap between starting QB’s in Super Bowl history. But considering Manning’s statistical history, it would be more common to see him snagging all the headlines.
Manning’s Last Rodeo
Yet, Peyton’s Super Bowl 50 headlines have been mostly negative, focusing on his fading arm strength, poor 2015 season (67.9 Passer Rating) and of course, the Al Jazeera HGH reports.
Manning’s “last rodeo” comment and potential final professional football game are the lone “stick out like a sore thumb” positive.
The focus on the Broncos has instead been pointed in the direction of the team’s defense… and rightfully so. After all, Denver featured the top overall defense in the NFL during the regular season, ranking 1st in total defense (283.1 ypg), 1st against the pass (199.6 ypg) and 3rd against the run (83.6 ypg).
Phillips, Denver’s defensive coordinator and the AP Assistant Coach of the Year, had a masterful game plan against Tom Brady and the Patriots during the AFC Championship.
Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware and Derek Wolfe (among others) made a huge impact in that game.
But the mobile and physical 6’5″, 245-pound Newton – fresh off being named the MVP of the league – will be a whole separate challenge. Let’s not mention a talented Carolina O-line that is headlined by center Ryan Kalil.
What similar challenges has each team faced during the season?
Cam vs. Top Defenses
- The top 5 overall defenses during the regular season (by YPG) were the Broncos, Seahawks, Jets, Texans and Cardinals
- During the regular season, Cam Newton faced Houston on September 20th and Seattle on October 18th. He faced Arizona and Seattle during the postseason
- Statistically, Newton passed for 6 TD’s with 4 INT’s over the four games with 38 carries for 156 yards on the ground (and 4 rushing TD’s)
- Cam has completed 70% of his passes during the postseason
Denver vs. Top Rushing Offenses and Mobile QB’s
- The top 5 rushing offenses during the regular season (YPG) were the Bills, Panthers, Seahawks, Vikings and Buccaneers
- Denver faced only the Vikings on October 4th, holding Adrian Peterson to 81 yards on 16 carries
- While Teddy Bridgewater is mobile, he’s not the physical presence that Cam Newton is
- Cam Newton led all QB’s with 636 rushing yards during the regular season
- Denver’s talented defensive front has never had to face a combo like that of Newton and RB Jonathan Stewart
KP’s Super Bowl 50 Prediction
The Panthers and Broncos are each jam-packed with talent. So, who will raise the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the night?
It’s interesting to see most prognosticators on the side of the Panthers, considering a long season where Carolina appeared to never get the respect it deserved. That includes yours truly, who never gave the Panthers a chance once Kelvin Benjamin went down prior to the regular season.
Cruising to a 17-1 record and dominating the first half of its playoff games can certainly change a lot of minds awful quickly.
Denver, on the other hand, proved a lot of doubters wrong with a huge defensive performance against the Patriots two weeks ago. But the Panthers have fewer key injuries than New England and more balance on offense and defense.
Carolina also has the league’s MVP and a guy that is clearly having fun and not shying away from the national spotlight. On the other side, we have grown accustomed to seeing how Peyton Manning typically performs against lights out defenses on the big stage.
With that being said, Wade Phillips and the Denver defense should prevent Carolina from opening explosively and taking a commanding lead in the first half.
In the end, Cam Newton will not only hoist the Lombardi Trophy, but he’ll also take with him the Super Bowl MVP award. The game will be low-scoring at first, with the Panthers opening up a two-score lead in the second half. A late Denver score will be too little, too late.
The Carolina Panthers win Super Bowl 50 23-17.