Carolina Panthers vs. Denver Broncos
Two teams. Two great defensive teams.
While the second sentence would seemingly dictate a low-scoring game, Super Bowl 50 has the potential to be a high-scoring affair.
The Panthers’ secondary is the weak link on their top-5 defense. It has been the main culprit in blown leads this season (see the Giants game and the playoff game vs. the Seahawks for reference). The Broncos’ offense is not built to score a lot of points, and if they do not take care of the football vs. the Panthers’ opportunistic defense, look the hell out.
I think this game will be won in the trenches. If Carolina successfully stop Denver’s running game and make its offense one-dimensional, this game will be a blowout. It’s hard to believe that any team would dare Peyton Manning to beat it, but the Broncos do not want Peyton attempting more than 30 passes against THAT defense.
Similarly, the Broncos need to slow down the Panthers’ running game. It will be easier said than done with running back Jonathan Stewart and MVP candidate Cam Newton leading the way.
Newton feeds off of the running game in the forms of play-action and his own running abilities. The running game allows the passing lanes to open for Newton, giving him time to connect with a top-2 tight end in Greg Olsen, and an unheralded wide receiving core led by Ted Ginn, Jr.
And here is another element that will make Broncos fans cringe: Carolina’s defense is SO similar to Seattle’s in Super Bowl XLVIII. Both teams were strong in the trenches, had athletic linebackers, and could force turnovers and score off of them. And we all remembered what Seattle’s D did to Peyton and co. that night.
While I do not think it will be as bad as the “ass-whupping heard around the world” that night, I do think the Broncos will handled by the Panthers. That’s right America, Peyton Manning will not go out on top as we all would like… Panthers 27, Broncos 17.
Postseason record to date
Last week: 2-0