The Super Bowl is finally upon us! It’s the one football event of the season that everybody gets into. Whether you watch it for the game, the commercials, or use it as an excuse to have a party, the Super Bowl is still one of the most watched sporting events on TV all year and a definite American rite of passage.
For me, this year’s Super Bowl is bittersweet. My beloved Pats missed this year’s game by one game. One. Game. Boo! But I’ll be savoring every minute of the game because when it’s over, We’ll be stuck with infomercials and reruns until August. Before I spoil the present with the future though, lets discuss the game and what to watch for. . .
The Panthers have been the best team in the NFC, perhaps the entire league, all year. With a stellar defense that capitalizes on even the smallest mistakes and an offense, led by Cam Newton, that no defense has had a solution for, they’ve powered their way to a 17-1 record. They aren’t unstoppable though as the Atlanta Falcons demonstrated in week 16. With that, you can bet the Bronco’s will be studying that game film.
So, does Cam Newton and Co. have what it takes to beat the Manning machine? Only time will tell. According to an article in USA Today though, should the Panthers win this Sunday, “they’ll have proven they’re one of the best teams ever.” Whether or not you agree, it’s making for interesting headlines during Super Bowl week, that’s for sure.
Now onto Denver. . .
The Broncos weren’t the definitive best all season, but they showed time after time how, as a team, you can overcome the obstacles that have defeated lesser teams. The Broncos played almost half a season with their backup who assimilated very well into the system. While fans more than likely won’t see Brock Osweiler play in the Super Bowl, it needs to be acknowledged that he is a big reason why the Broncos are playing in Santa Clara on Sunday. You would think that playing in the Super Bowl would require some sort of special preparation but as the Denver Post reported this week, for the Broncos, it was just another game. Another interesting tidbit? The Broncos were urged “to look back to their Super Bowl 48 trip where they were dominated 43-8 to Seattle.”
This Sunday, the game is going to come down to each team’s defense and their ability to get to both QBs. Considering the vastly different quarterbacking styles of Manning and Newton, the strategy for each defense is going to vary.
What the Broncos need to do:
On defense, the Broncos need to make sure Cam Newton can’t move around the field. Newton specializes in moving outside of the pocket and making big plays both with his legs and throwing while moving. The defense also needs to keep the inside covered so that Newton can’t step up into a hole and run for 40 yards. If the defense can keep him in the pocket and hurry his throws (Similar to the pressure the Broncos had on Brady in the AFC Championship), they will be able to control the tempo of the game as well as Newton’s explosive play.
On offense, Manning has to be virtually perfect. Along with this (and it goes without saying), the offense line also has to be virtually perfect. Manning can’t roll out and throw off of his back foot and subsequently throw an INT, especially with guys like Luke Kuechly on the Panthers defense who has two INTs in the postseason alone. Additionally, the Broncos receivers can’t have the dropsies in this game like we’ve seen in games past. In short, If Manning gets you the ball, you better catch it and hold on to it. Finally, the Broncos will also need to establish some sort of running game to take the pressure off Manning having to throw every single down.
What the Panthers need to do:
On defense, the Panthers will need to get a ton of pressure on Manning. They’ll want to flush him from the pocket and force him to throw off his back foot which historically causes inaccurate throws and leads to a higher percentage of interceptions. Also, the Panthers can’t let the Broncos establish a running game.
On offense, Newton’s offensive line is going to need to keep the Broncos’ defensive line from spreading across the field. Newton plays best when he has the outsides free and has the ability to make plays with his legs. Containing the defensive line will allow Newton to do that. When Newton throws, he needs to be sure his passes are accurate and well-timed. The Broncos defense showed in the AFC Championship how well they capitalize on hurried, miscalculated throws.
So, let the predictions begin. For those betting, this one definitely calls for you to do your research, especially if you’re leaning toward the Broncos. They are 2-5 when they’ve previously made it to the Super Bowl with losses at an average of 29.6 points. Furthermore, the Panthers have gone 8-0 when favored spread of -4.5 this season. That being said, your best bet is with the Panthers at -4.5.
No matter what side you root for, Super Bowl 50 is going to be an interesting and fun game to watch.
Kickoff is Sunday, February 7th at 4:30 pm on CBS. There will be pregame stuff all day, so if that kind of stuff interests you, make sure to find your favorite station so you can hear them analyze and talk the game to death.
Happy Super Bowl!
Questions? Comments? Tweet me @PatsFanGirl12, I welcome all conversations in 140 characters or less.