It’s time for the biggest game in American sport, and potentially world sport. The Super Bowl. The Denver Broncos vs the Carolina Panthers. Peyton Manning vs Cam Newton. #1 defense vs #1 offence. And it all takes place in sunny Santa Clara tomorrow evening.
This week has seemed completely different than the week prior to Super Bowl 48, as the Broncos have been far more businesslike. They aren’t prepared to make the same mistake again, they are here to do their job and win. Carolina meanwhile seem far more laid back and relaxed which could come back to haunt them, leaving them to ponder their options and learn from their mistakes, as undoubtedly they will be heading back to the Super Bowl within the next few years regardless.
With what is likely to be Peyton Manning’s last game, can he ride off into the sunset victorious? If he is, it will be down to what damage the Broncos defense can inflict on Cam Newton. If they perform close to the standard they did against the Patriots, they have every chance of giving the Broncos a shot at victory. All the Broncos could need is one takeaway to win the turnover battle, as Peyton Manning has failed to turn the ball over since his return, the only turnover coming from Ronnie Hillman’s fumble in the AFC Championship game. You sense that Manning’s arm strength will be tested, and Demaryius Thomas and Vernon Davis most certainly have to turn up and they cannot afford to drop any passes. The Broncos will hope Emmanuel Sanders is as excellent as always, and the running game will need to pick up 150+ yards, which is possible as CJ Anderson in particular has excelled over the past few weeks.
As a Broncos fan, I’m not the most knowledgeable person in the world about the Carolina Panthers, so I asked Thom Barrett from Carolina Panthers UK (@PanthersUK on twitter) on his thoughts ahead of Super Bowl 50:
Hi Thom, Who would you say is the key player for Carolina (Other than Cam!) and why?
Other than Cam I would have to say our key player is Kawann Short. A lot of people may say Luke Kuechly, but with a franchise record 11 sacks for a DT this season, Kawann poses a real threat for Peyton Manning and the Denver O-line.
What are the 3 Keys if Denver are to succeed against Carolina?
Denver needs to continue what they’ve been doing all season. The pass-rush will be crucial to getting pressure on Cam when despite his ability to escape the pocket, he does hold on to the football much longer than most QBs. Secondly, Denver needs to use their number one defense to their advantage, being able to be aware of the different plays the Panthers can run. And finally, Von Miller, Peyton Manning and Owen Daniels need to have blistering performances through all 4 quarters to be able to cope with a Panthers team that is so strong in all three phases.
And finally, Who do you think will win and why?
I have to say the Panthers will win this. We have shown all season our ability to win from all sorts of different situations, and a 15-1 record is unmatchable by Denver despite their fantastic season. I think it’ll be 31-17 to the Panthers.
So that’s the view from the Panthers side. Now for your Broncos UK Prediction. I think our defense will have a little too much for Cam as he hasn’t seen anything like it all season, and Peyton has been playing his best football all year recently in the playoffs, so I’m going for a 27-17 Broncos victory, and a second ring for Peyton.