Super Bowl Prediction: The Big D Sinks Big Cam
It’s hard to judge who is hotter right now–the Bronco defense or the Panther offense, but I’m going with the big D. The Panthers have had two consecutive blowout games where they were up by multiple touchdowns by the end of the first quarter. That’s not a normal thing, my friends. And I’m assuming that, unless Manning throws a pick six to start the game, the Denver D will not surrender in such a fashion.
Secondly, the Denver defense pulverized the Patriots. After watching the AFC Championship Game, I don’t know if a Patriot o-lineman could sleep without nightmares. The Denver D gets home with four rushers, and they do it consistently. And, hey, the world sort of forgot this because we all hate the Patriots so much, but they were a good team this year. Before the injuries happened, the Pats were 9-2 and in the drivers seat. They almost ended up with the #1 seed. The Patriots were back to full health on offense and their offense simply couldn’t function. When have you even seen the Patriots suffer such a brutal ass kicking?
To me, the Denver D is too good for the Panther skill guys. I can’t go all-in on Aqib Talib or TJ Ward losing their one-on-one match-ups against guys like Ted Ginn Jr. I just can’t. I think the Panthers went up against a Legion of Boom that I consistently said was the biggest weakness on the 2015 Seahawks, and then they went up against the Arizona Cardinals, also not a stout secondary, and Cam Newton and Co had a field day. Not happening against the Denver secondary. They’re going to jam up those receivers, just like they did Gronk and Edelman. They’re going to swallow Jonathan Stewart. I don’t see him as the type of tailback who can succeed in this game.
In order for the Panthers to win, they have to do what they always do: Rely on Cam Newton to make all the miracles happen. Granted, Cam will not be as stationary a target as Tom Brady, but if the Bronco pass rush can get home, they’re going to get in Cam’s head, take away what he wants to do and Cam will become mortal, just like Tom Brady became mortal. I like Cam as a quarterback. I love this new generation where QBs are as intelligent as they are athletic. The Cam Newton and Russell Wilson model is the future, but I do think the Panthers rely too heavily on their playmaker.
Here is where my prediction runs into trouble.
Peyton Manning is the biggest x-factor here. I believe SB50 will be his last game, no matter the outcome. I think he knows he’s done, and I think sometimes–sometimes–if you know you just have to do something one-last-time, if you have this one-last-shot, the fountain of youth can evoke its spirit in you and give you just enough of a boost. I don’t deny Manning’s putridness this season, in the bottom five or six of quarterbacks for sure, but I don’t buy that the Sheriff can’t get up for his “last rodeo.” Peyton Manning will not be MVP Peyton Manning from his heyday, but I’m think we’re going to see more from Manning than we expect.
A few factors help here.
The Panther D is slightly overrated and is a unit who played way above its head. Recall this: They almost surrendered a massive lead to a Seahawks team with no running back and no tight end and three undersized receivers. Then, the Panthers D caught Carson Palmer in the middle of a Jake Delhomme-esque meltdown, which had more to do with Palmer than the Panthers. Where the Panthers win on defense is with their linebackers, but the LB unit is injured, and I think Manning can pull some mental tricks on them. If Jarrod Allen can play and be effective, it gives the Panthers a better shot; however, I suspect the Panthers are masking some serious injuries in their defense. I’ll be shocked if all these guys suit up and can play at their highest levels.
These last two blowout wins for the Carolina Panthers took some people of their scent. Before them, the Panthers had blood in the water. They looked vulnerable and flawed down the stretch. SB50 could be another blowout but I just don’t see it. I can’t remember the last time I saw an NFL team blowout three games in a row. I know people think this might be a SB48 repeat, but stop it, seriously, stop it, the 2013 Seahawks would CRUSH the 2015 Carolina Panthers, totally spank them up and down the field. Hell, the 2013 49ers would crush the 2015 Panthers. That’s how good the NFC West was in 2013.
To me, SB50 comes down to two misconceptions.
1) Because the Panthers have blown out the Seahawks and the Cardinals, they must be unstoppable.
2) Peyton Manning is so terrible that he must suck in this game.
I don’t know. I think the Denver D is ready. I think they want this game. Broncos for the big W, 21-17.