It's Simple This Time, Super Bowl 50 Won't Even be Close
The Panthers are going to get to the Broncos eventually. When that happens, Peyton Manning is going to be forced to throw it. And once that happens, it’s going to get ugly.
Given the unavoidable avalanche of hype and all the time between the conference championship games and the one that comes next at the end of every NFL season, the temptation to over-think the Super Bowl is sometimes difficult to resist.
Not this time.
“It’s going to be hard for Denver to score points,” ESPN analyst and former Steelers running back Merril Hoge maintained during a recent appearance on the DVE Morning Show. “It’s going to be really, really hard for (the Broncos) to score points.”
And there you have it.
Denver has the NFL’s No. 1 defense, and the NFL’s No. 1 defense in terms of yards allowed per game has traditionally done very well in this game (11-4).
But the problem for the Broncos is Peyton Manning has hung around for at least one rodeo too many. And against a Carolina defense that’s no slouch in its own right that’s not something the Broncos are going to be able to work around.
Carolina is going to score, even against that No. 1 Broncos defense, because that’s what Carolina does.
The Panthers have a running game and Cam Newton and an attacking, first-down-or-touchdown approach in the passing game that gets results sooner or later.
“That Cardinals defense is one of the best in football and they shredded them,” Hoge said of the Panthers’ 49-15 victory over Arizona in the NFC Championship Game. “They absolutely shredded them.”
The Broncos won their way to Super Bowl 50, as well, but they did so much more by surviving the Steelers and then the Patriots than by shredding them.
Shredding anyone is no longer within Manning’s grasp.
The Broncos have to win by playing great defense and by Manning finding a way to manage the game, something he still does exceptionally well.
But eventually, Manning is going to have to stand and deliver this time.
The Panthers have averaged 36.1 points and 385.3 yards over their last nine games, so they’re going to get to the Broncos eventually.
When that happens, Manning is going to be forced to throw it.
And once that happens, it’s going to get ugly.
Maybe the Panthers jump the Broncos early.
Maybe they outlast the Broncos and gradually pull away late.
But either way it doesn’t figure to be close.
“To me this is a no-brainer,” Hoge concluded. “Aside from throwing in injuries – that means Cam Newton goes down early and they have three turnovers – I just don’t see it.”
“No-brainer” is often a risky description at best when applied to an NFL game, let alone a championship game.
Not this time.
“If they’re at their best and we’re at our best, we’re going to win,” Newton has told anyone willing to listen this week.
As to what might happen if the Panthers are at their best and the Broncos are at something less, Seattle 43, Denver 8 in Super Bowl XLVIII comes to mind as an eventual outcome under such circumstances.
Make it Panthers 38, Broncos 16 this time.