So it’s the day that every football lover has been waiting for. The top of all. The closing of a season. Yes, the 50th Super Bowl will be held today, in LEVI’S Stadium in San Francisco. Now, Super Bowl is a big deal, everyone; we all know that. It’s about the hype, the madness, the celebrations, the halftime show-celebrities, and of course, the game itself which always have two greatest teams in every season from AFC Division and NFC Division. Celebrities caliber of Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Black Eyed Peas, until Michael Jackson had gotten the experience to perform in the halftime show of this finale. This year, British legend Coldplay and also Beyonce will have the chance to perform. For Bey, SB 50 will be the second time, after she had amazingly performed at SB 47 at New Orleans, when Baltimore Ravens won it over San Francisco 49ers. Super Bowl is also known for its commercial break; the series of the commercial every year is a must watch.
But we know all those things above are not the main reason why we care about the bowl game itself.
It’s all about the game.
The SB 50 will have Denver Broncos from the AFC and Carolina Panthers from the NFC. Now, I will try my best to give my analysis on both team as objective as possible. As an addition, I am at the point where I do not like anything associated with Denver Broncos right now because I am rooting for New England Patriots. (always that one team, never changed since the day 0). If you were watching the conference division two weeks ago, Patriots were beaten 20-18 by Broncos, because the unconverted 2 points-attempt after Rob Gronkowski touchdown. It hurts like hell. I decided not to open any content or watch football video on YouTube (which I do daily) for about a week after the Pats loss. It was very heartbreaking and disappointing. I have to admit that Broncos’ defense was on BEAST MODE that day; Tom Brady the G.O.A.T took the beating all the time during the game, Pats offensive line was easily to be broken by Von Miller who led the Broncos secondary.; it’s just not our day but hey, there is always another season.
Back to the topic, yes I will write my analysis on this year’s SB, and even deep down in my heart I really want the Panthers to beat the Broncos so bad and humiliated them, my article here is going to be fair and square I promise.
When it comes down to Carolina Panthers against Denver Broncos, all eyes are on the quarterbacks of the two; Cam Newton of Panthers and the legendary Peyton Manning of the Broncos. Even though I initially want this SB to be “Newton vs Brady”, I agree that Newton vs Manning is very interesting as well. For those of you who watch the NFL over the past decade, we all know how Peyton Manning worked really hard and became a franchise quarterback for Indianapolis Colts and even bring the SB to the city of Indianapolis in 2007 after defeating Chicago Bears , while Cam Newton was drafted overall No.1 from Auburn in 2011, and been a phenomenal quarterback all this time but sadly he apparently was just always in wrong situation; either the main wide receivers got hurt, the whole team just plain suck, or whatever; there was always a reason for Newton not to success………………until this year.
Both Manning and Newton are incredibly great quarterbacks, despite the age differences. Manning will be 39 years old entering tonight’s matchup, and Newton will be 26 years old. Manning made his NFL debut with Indianapolis Colts while Cam Newton was only 9 years young and still on primary school; probably not dabbing yet, but I’m pretty sure he was already stuntin’ since the day 0.
Manning was known for his greatness and excellence. He might not always be the best, but he had proven to everyone who had watched him playing that he was more than just a good quarterback. He is one of the greatest quarterbacks who had ever played the game. He is a great player, driven and always motivated by experiences. To NFL.com, Tom Brady had commented in 2011
“To me, he’s the greatest of all time. He’s a friend of mine, and someone that I always watch and admire, because he always wants to improve, he always wants to get better, and he doesn’t settle for anything less than the best. So, when you watch the best and you’re able to learn from the best, hopefully that helps me get better”
Newton, during his college time at Auburn, helped the team to win National Championship in 2011, and also winning the Heisman Trophy the same year (the award for best college football player). Standing on 6 feet 5 inches, and weighing on 111 kilograms, Cam Newton had become a threat for any defense that faced him since college years. Carolina Panthers was very lucky and right to draft him, ahead of future SB foe, Von Miller and other QBs such as Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker, 1stoverall in 2011 pick.
Talking about this season, Manning had led the Broncos to have a 12-4 record for the regular season and got the home field advantage in AFC. Broncos was initially not a favorite to challenge this year’s championship; after releasing TE Julius Thomas to Jacksonville Jaguars, WR Wes Welker to the St. Louis Rams and Center Will Montgomery to the Chicago Bears. They also parted ways with head coach John Fox and signed their former quarterback Gary Kubiak as the head coach.
The Broncos started this season with 7 straight victories, including against Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers. On the 8th game of the season, Indianapolis Colts ended their winning streak, and the following week Kansas City Chiefs beat them in Denver. The next 3 games ended up with a victory for them, against Chicago Bears, New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers, and followed by another 2 losses against Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers before ended the regular season with 2 wins against Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers. Even though Manning was injured because tearing his left foot’s plantar fasciitis and did not play as the starting quarterback from their 9th game until the last week, his backup Brock Osweiler stepped up and filled Manning’s vacant place. Speculations were also spreaded that Osweiler would be the future QB for the team and put Manning on bench until the last game of the season that coach Kubiak announced that Manning would start the playoffs games. I guess quality and experience combined never fail to amuse anyone.
Manning did his job nicely during playoffs game, after beating Pittsburgh Steelers and my team on the way to this year’s SB. His smart football and the receivers troops who played more effective and did not making any mistake plus Broncos’ stellar defense was enough to take the team to their eighth Super Bowl appearance. As a matter of fact, Broncos’ defense was the no. 1 in passing yards, total yards and sacks. Meanwhile Newton noted an incredible season with his team; winning 15 out of 16 games played and only got a loss from Atlanta Falcons. This stable and consistent performance from Newton and friends was regarded as one of the best in team’s history. This season Newton had noted 45 total touchdowns, 3837 passing yards and 636 rushing yards. Clearly this guy is dominating both air and ground game. With a very athletic physique, Newton is unbeatable on air game or running game; don’t matter, Newton will be there and break your defenders.
But in Super Bowl, talent is not everything. Experience matters too. Manning has been around for 17 seasons with 3 Super Bowl appearances before today and winning 1 of them. This is going to be Newton’s first Super Bowl. Clearly from the experience side, Manning is ahead of Newton, and this could be the X factor of this game. However, if Newton is consistent with his form of game, that much of experience is not really needed to be honest
RUNNING BACKS AND FULL BACKS
For ground game, Broncos split the load to Ronnie Hillman and C.J Anderson mostly. Both had been a great solution for the offense in case the quarterback took too many beatings or the receivers were covered tightly all day. The opposing team has Jonathan Stewart as their main running back. Backups Cameron Artis-Payne and Fozzy Whittaker were only on the game on several snaps, but the main load is for Stewart. The former Oregon Duck noted 989 yards this season in 13 games. So far Stewart had scored 8 touchdowns plus 1 extra receiving touchdown during regular season. Stewart will attempt to keep up the pace today against a staunch Broncos run defense that ranked 3rd during the regular season. Alternative for Stewart is uhm…the quarterback itself, Cam Newton. Newton during the regular season scored 10 (TEN!!!!) rushing touchdowns plus 2 more touchdowns against Cardinals 2 weeks ago on NFC Championship game, only 1 TD shy to running back like Adrian Peterson, and even more than LeSean McCoy who only scored 3 TDs this season. Newton is a dangerous threat on the end zone and Broncos offense will have to work extra harder to stop Panthers’ ground game. And even after they have worked harder, I think Panthers’ running game will be one of the alternative solutions for tonight. One more thing, Panthers got Mike Tolbert as their FB, who contributed 3 TDs for the team this season. Tolbert is utilized in goal line situation sometimes. Broncos’ FB slot is filled by their originally-TE player, Virgil Green. Green is not a serious threat for scoring.
RUNNING BACKS AND FULL BACKS: PANTHERS
Broncos main receivers are Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. Both had scored 6 TDs for the Broncos this season. Thomas will get more attention from Panthers’ defense, since he is more well-known, and considered more threatening. Standing on 5’11, Sanders is not as tall as Thomas (6’3), but that could be actually beneficial for Broncos. Sanders is the safety valve on the Broncos’ offense.
As quoted from what Sanders said to denverpost.com, “I want people to talk about me when they talk about who is the best wide receiver,” said Sanders, who is 5-foot-11, 180 pounds. “The thing is, I am a No. 2 wide receiver over here. We got Demaryius Thomas, but still I am out here battling. I am still out here trying to prove that I am one of the best wide receivers.”
At times, Sanders has been the Broncos’ No. 1 receiver. He’s been a dependable target for quarterback Peyton Manning when Thomas was struggling.
“The way he runs his routes, you can see him. You can tell when he drops his hips and is going to break out. It doesn’t happen with everybody,” Manning said. “He is a tremendous competitor. He loves football. He loves working on his craft. I really enjoy playing with the guy.”
Sanders has welcomed the “Robin” role to Thomas’ “Batman” since joining the Broncos in 2014. Thomas and Sanders each eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards for the second consecutive season. This week, Robin might have to pick up the bulk of the load while Batman is a busy with a worthy opponent.
Panthers wide receivers list is the opposite of the Broncos’
The Panthers have a group of wideouts who’ve embraced their roles, checked their egos and do whatever it takes to win. “We know we suck,” Corey Brown said sarcastically. “We’re just going to continue to make plays and do what we’ve been doing all year.”
Brown, Jerricho Cotchery, Ted Ginn Jr. and Devin Funchess don’t have impressive resumes that compare to Denver’s Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Thomas is a three-time Pro Bowl pick with four straight seasons of at least 1,300 yards receiving and two straight seasons with more than 100 catches. Sanders went to the Pro Bowl last year and has two straight seasons with 1,100-plus yards receiving and more than 75 catches. Meanwhile, the Panthers rely on an undrafted free agent, a journeyman veteran, a first-round bust and a rookie.
“Those guys have been playing lights-out since day one,” Newton said. “Ted Ginn, who was a bust for so many people. I heard Jerricho Cotchery was washed up 10 years ago. Philly Brown had no hands. Devin Funchess was too high of a pick for the Carolina Panthers. “We didn’t let anyone else dictate to us that we knew what we were capable of. It’s a very close-knit group and guys selling out for each other.”
The Panthers did have a No. 1 receiver but Kelvin Benjamin tore his ACL in pre-season. Without him, tight end Greg Olsen became Newton’s go-to guy. Olsen has 77 catches for 1,104 yards. None of the wide receivers even caught 50 balls. Ginn led the unit with 44 catches for 739 yards and 10 TDs. He was the ninth-overall pick by Miami in 2007 but never lived up to his potential and has bounced around the league. “We’re underrated,” Ginn said. “We got a lot of guys who can play on another team and be great.”
Brown, signed out of Ohio State in 2014, had 31 catches for 447 yards and four TDs this season. “We don’t care what people have to say about us and we don’t listen to any of that,” he said.
Cotchery had 39 catches for 485 yards and three TDs in his 12th season in the NFL and second with the Panthers. He’s more valuable to the team as a mentor to the younger players.“We just grew extremely close,” he said. “Everything just came together for us.”
Funchess, a second-round pick, caught 31 passes for 473 yards and five TDs. He also had a TD catch against Arizona in the NFC championship game. “When Kelvin went down, we had to step up,” Funchess said. “And we stepped up big since Week 1 and then we never looked back.”
“All that he brought as a player he brings to our meeting room,” Cotchery said. “That same competitiveness, wanting his group to be the best that they can be, working every day to perfect your craft. He’s a guy that has a lot of wisdom about the game and he knows how to communicate that.”
With so many and stacking options on wide-outs, Newton can do a lot of things and this is what Broncos’ defense should be worry about. They might be not as well-known as Sanders or Thomas, but these guys worked extra hard and are very ready to tear Broncos’ defense into pieces (even though I think it is impossible since Broncos D is the 1st rank of passing yards, but well these troops can be a serious threat for Broncos D)
WIDE RECEIVERS: PANTHERS
Panthers’ tight end, Greg Olsen is Cam Newton’s favorite target. Former Chicago Bear caught 8 TDs already this season and since Kelvin Benjamin is injured and out for the season, Olsen got a new role as Newton’s favorite. Meanwhile Broncos’ TE, Owen Daniels and Vernon Davis were combined for 3 TDs (Davis didn’t even score actually). Manning also doesn’t target his TE that much; only on short passes conditions and blocking mostly.
TIGHT ENDS: PANTHERS
Greg Olsen running (wearing white)
It’s Broncos’ Ryan Harris-Evan Mathis-Matt Paradis-Louis Vasquez-Michael Schofield against Michael Oher-Andrew Norwell-Ryan Kalil-Trai Turner and Mike Remmers of Panthers. Seeing how these part of the games would compete, Panthers are ahead of the opposing side on offensive line since it’s always been more time for Newton to decide where he is going to throw to. The cohesiveness of the line makes a solid pocket for the quarterback and facing the no. 1 defense in the nation on passing yards, Newton needs to think really wise about his options. Broncos’ defense are so quick that before you know it, the ball is in their hands already.
For the D-Line, it’s Broncos’ Derek Wolfe-Sylvester Williams-Malik Jackson, against Panthers’ Charles Johnson-Star Lotulelei-Kawann Short-and Jared Allen. It’s hard to pick which one’s better from both since both line are an excellent pass rusher. But we have to remember how Broncos’ D had been eating all season, especially the last game vs Patriots that I won’t forget; where Tom Brady was pressured the whole time. The three-man front of Derek Wolfe, Sylvester Williams and Malik Jackson does the dirty work to get Von Miller and Demarcus Ware their openings, and the secondary is so strong that opposing quarterbacks, already under pressure, find few options downfield. Panthers’ O-Line will face the real deal tonight, and Broncos is ahead of the Carolina pride on D-Line.
Another huge battle between the two. Linebackers are sometimes said the quarterbacks of defense; they are the players who take control of the defense and give command, and apparently they play a very crucial role on defense. My prediction on the linebackers spots for tonight will be Thomas Davis-Luke Kuechly- A.J.Klein versus Von Miller-Demarcus Ware-Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan. Again this battle seems like a tie since Kuechly is undoubtedly a great linebackers; not only do the physical job but Kuechly has a great positioning skills that allows him to collect interceptions; he even did it twice this post-season. Davis and Klein sneaked in to the quarterback and Kuechly will be mounted in the middle to avoid passes and tackle running opposing players. Davis and Klein will have the advantage to go through Broncos O-Line to sack Manning and Kuechly needs to focus on Hillman’s ground game, and short Manning route to Sanders or Daniels
Luke Kuechly (#59)
On the other side, Von Miller who has been guaranteed a franchise tag during next season’s preseason will determine the success of Broncos tonight. The duo (Miller and Ware) are certified-pass rushers, and Panthers’ D-Line need to be careful this time to protect Newton. If Newton’s blind side got attacked all the time, Broncos can force turnovers all the time and Newton might not have enough time to decide and could end up being intercepted by the Broncos’ No Fly Zone (a nickname for Talib-Harris Jr.-Ward-Stewart). Miller and Ware will get to Newton a couple times today, and I expect a fast throwing game from Newton; something that Broncos like since the chance of intercepting or swatting the pass will be bigger than if Newton really knows where to throw it.
Broncos Defense is the strongest now. This is no overstatement. This is the truth. The duo of experienced Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. could be a big cemented wall for Panthers’ wide-outs. Not only tremendous at intercepting ball, Talib especially is a scoring machine too . From 3 INTs he made this season, 2 were returned to the house for 6 points. Harris Jr. is also a speed demon. Entering his 4thseason, former Kansas Jayhawks had intercepted 2 passes and 1 is converted to a touchdown. Ted Ginn Jr. and Corey Brown need to make sure that their hands can grab Newton’s pass. Panthers’ offense cannot outrun Talib or Harris Jr for sure, so probably baiting Talib or Harris Jr. will be a good ideafor the offense strategy. On top of all, Broncos CBs are not an option to be run through by the wideouts; some special strategy has to be utilized.
Aqib Talib takes it to the house for touchdown
Meanwhile Panthers’ had Josh Norman, who had stopped explosive Odell Beckham Jr. during a Panthers-Giants game earlier this season, and Charles Tillman. My prediction is that Norman will cover Thomas all day, and Tillman will be assigned to Sanders, which will be won by Sanders. Broncos got an advantage of facing inexperienced Panthers’ wide-out here.
Broncos’ hard hitting safeties are vicious. For real. They are incredibly cruel in hitting people from the opposing teams. TJ Ward and Darian Stewart will definitely start tonight and they can be relied on facing Panthers’ ground game; helping Miller-Ware duo. One thing that I noticed from Broncos’ defense is that they are great at tackles but not at passes. Remember how Gronk and Julian Edelman got all those passes when Brady are not pressured? I am sure Talib and Harris Jr. will help this gap and this could be a weak spot for Broncos. If Talib and Harris Jr. had to help the safeties in covering the ball, they will not be committed to cover one of the Panthers’ receiver all game long. If Newton can take advantage of this, Panthers can score a lot on them. This kind of strategy was used by KC Chiefs when they beat Broncos during regular season.
Panthers’ safeties will be Kurt Coleman and Roman Harper. Panthers’ last line will rely on the CBs instead of safeties, so Manning could also spot this weakness on offense to win this game. Setting up a route for Sanders or Thomas or even Hillman to where the safeties are could add up some gain of yards for the team
In this kind of game, I don’t think it will be decided by the special team. But as an addition, both kickers has an equal level; Broncos’ Brandon McManus had made 30 FG out of 35 attempts, while Graham Gano of Panthers had made 30 FG out of 36 attempts. Punters quality are about the same too between Britton Colquitt (Broncos) and Brad Nortman (Panthers)
SPECIAL TEAM: TIE
Ron Rivera vs Gary Kubiak. A very interesting duel between the two and both had won a Super Bowl before, Rivera with the Bears on 20th Super Bowl and Kubiak has three rings as offensive coach and quarterback coach with 49ers and Broncos. I am honestly impressed with how Rivera changed a 3-12-1 team into a 15-1 team in just one season. Kubiak also did a very great job by taking Broncos to the SB after John Fox’s departure. But I think Rivera is supported by a better coaching staffs, so I would have Rivera to coach my team on this Super Bowl
With that being said, I predict that Panthers will win over Broncos on this Super Bowl, but with a small score. Probably by 1 touchdown. Every player should step up and do the best playing at this level because everyone can be a hero. Even an unknown Malcolm Butler of Patriots made a game winning INT at last season SB. The key of this game is not only Manning or Newton; but it’s about the cohesiveness of both sides to play a game of football as a strong team.
FINAL SCORE: BRONCOS 20- PANTHERS 27
FINAL MVP: CAM NEWTON
Cam Newton will get the last dab.