Sunday, February 7, 2016

Super Bowl 50 Prediction: Broncos vs. Panthers

For the third year in a row, the top seed in either conference will be competing for the Super Bowl title. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning looks to win his second ring in what will likely be the final game of his career, while the newly crowned MVP Cam Newton will attempt to become the first player in history to have won the Heisman, the National Championship, the NFL MVP Award, and a Super Bowl. The 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl will hopefully make for a great game between these two teams, especially considering the plethora of talent on either roster.
The Denver Broncos may have quarterback Peyton Manning as their starting quarterback, but it has been Denver's defense that has led them to the Super Bowl this season. The Broncos secondary consists of Pro Bowlers and All-Pros such as Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr., and T.J. Ward, all of whom should do well in covering the Panthers mediocre wide receiver corp. All-Pro's Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware serve as the stars of Denver's pass rush, a group that gave Tom Brady problems for the entireity of the AFC Championship game. With a combination of a lethal pass rush and a shutdown secondary, the Broncos will pressure Cam Newton into making quick decisions that could potentially lead to turnovers.

Offesnively, the Broncos have Peyton Manning at quarterback, who has basically become a game manager at this point in his career. Manning's passes certainly lack the same velocity as they tend to wobble quite often, so Denver's running game consisting of C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman will need to carry this offense in order to have any chance of setting up a half-decent passing game.
Despite losing Kelvin Benjamin to a season ending injury this past summer, the Panthers offense has had absolutely no problem putting points on the board, especially against top tier defenses. Cam Newton has been an absolute superstar this season, and his dual threat capabilities make it nearly impossible to take this athletic freak of nature completely out of the game. Carolina finished first in the league in rushing yards, but there is always the risk that Newton will throw the deep ball to some of his favorite targets like Greg Olsen or Ted Ginn Jr.

The Panthers defense has often been overshadowed in 2015 by quarterback Cam Newton and his MVP campaign, but Carolin'a defense is just as good, if not better than that of the Broncos. The Panthers had more defensive players elected to the All-Pro team (3) including the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly. Carolina's defense also ranked second behind only the Broncos when it came to Football Outsiders' defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA), making this showdown one of the best defensive matchups in Super Bowl history.

Peyton Manning has struggled in the postseason historically, especially when the temperature dips below 40 degrees; however, the temperature is expected to be around 60 degrees at opening kickoff, a positive sign for Broncos fans. In addition, many of the Broncos players simply have more experience in the league, an important factor to take into account when it comes to Super Bowl matchups. Thus, all things considered, I believe the Broncos will narrowly beat the Panthers as Peyton Manning wins his second ring in the final game of his career.
Prediction: Broncos over Panthers 23-20