Another long season once again boils down to an intriguing Super Bowl match-up. The 50th edition features an upstart team from Carolina – a team nobody in their right mind could’ve predicted would have ended up in San Francisco on Sunday. Led by the controversial Cam Newton, the Panthers enter as the undisputed best team in football. They have been simply dominant since the beginning of September, and rightfully enter as the favourites on Sunday.
On the other side of the ball, will be the cerebral and past-his-prime Peyton Manning. It has definitely been an up-and-down season for the aging, future Hall-of-Famer, but all Peyton needs to do on Sunday is manage the game and give his team a chance to win the game. If he avoids glaring mistakes, this Denver defense is good enough to lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl victory. It should be fascinating watching this legend play what could potentially be his final game ever.
This should be an excellent game pitting two great defenses against one another in what could prove to be an absolute slug-fest. Can the Panthers’ offensive train led by Cam Newton keep on chugging? Or will Denver’s amazingly stout defense shut the door and send their quarterback out on a winning note. Read on below for a full game preview and full analysis on the point-spread for Super Bowl 50!
Panthers vs. Broncos Spread Betting Odds:
Carolina Panthers -6 (-110)
vs. Denver Broncos +6 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Panthers vs. Broncos Spread Pick:
Both the Broncos and Panthers are similar squads that are undoubtedly led by their excellent defenses. And though Carolina’s offense has a bit more of a punch to it than Denver’s, both squads found themselves in tight affairs at many points throughout the season. Both squads look to grind it out. Carolina’s defense keeps them in it and often waits for Cam Newton to take over, while Denver’s defense is historically excellent and hopes that Peyton Manning can do just about enough to allow them to win.
Carolina is a great team no doubt, and led by Newton they’ve got a great offense. But this is still a unit that raises some questions. Sure they were first in points per drive, but only managed to finish 12 in yards per drive. Per Football Outsiders, “this is the only offense since 1997 to finish in the top-two in points per drive, but not in the top-seven in yards per drive.” Not only that, it’s known that the Panthers absolutely feasted on inferior opposition this season, taking full advantage of the league’s easiest strength-of-schedule, and were fortunate enough to rank 2nd in starting field position. Carolina strikes fast, they’re not your typical ‘march down the field on a lengthy drive’ offense. This is why it is imperative that Denver limits turnovers on Sunday. If the Panthers are forced to consistently start inside their own-30, you’ve got to like Denver’s defensive outlook for this game.
For the Broncos, the key to stopping Newton entirely will be garnering great pressure and beating the Carolina offensive line. The Broncos led all defenses in pressure rate this season and really got to Tom Brady in the AFC Championship game. Carolina protects Newton well certainly, but it hasn’t faced a duo like Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. It’s also no secret that in the game where the Panthers conceded the most pressure (against Atlanta), it handed them their only loss of the season. Michael Oher and Mike Remmers are liabilities on the Carolina O-Line, and for the first time this season, expect to see this unit in real flux come Sunday evening. The Broncos are that good on defense, and will leave Newton searching for options. Moving the chains is suddenly going to get tough for this heralded Panthers’ attack in Super Bowl 50.
On the other side of the ball, it all comes down to Peyton Manning and how he’ll fare going against a very solid defense from Carolina. Manning was decent in the AFC Championship game, but he is clearly not himself and not at the level we are used to seeing him at. This has to be his last game, and although it’d be great to send him out on a winning note, it won’t be easy on Sunday. It has been an inconsistent season for the future Hall-of-Famer. Back in Week 10 he was brutal in a game vs. Kansas City, throwing four interceptions. After this, he was sat down, only to return for the post-season where he has fared a bit better in a modified offensive set-up. Despite his limitations, the Denver passing attack has a great chance to expose some key vulnerabilities within the Carolina secondary. Though it is regarded that Carolina is excellent defensively, some crushing injuries have left them vulnerable beyond the supremely-talented corner in Josh Norman. Injuries have forced Carolina to bring in career journeymen, Robert McClain and Cortland Finnegan, both of whom were unemployed back on Thanksgiving. The Broncos have a vast array of talented receivers, and Norman can only cover one of them. But with this being said, the Broncos’ offensive line is not the greatest, and Carolina can certainly bring the heat. If it holds up, Denver certainly has a chance in this game. If not, and Manning is regularly hit and hurried, the Broncos will be hard-pressed to emerge from San Francisco victorious.
Expect this to be a very defensive-oriented match-up with both offenses going through some frustrations on Sunday. Carolina definitely holds an edge on offense, but that Denver defense is built to nullify it, and should definitely be able to limit Newton’s effectiveness. Expect this Broncos unit to do what they do – give their offense a chance to win the game. It’s a special group and I fully expect this game to be low-scoring and tightly-contested into the fourth quarter. Their defensive line will be able to get at Newton with will, and Carolina’s vulnerabilities in their secondary can be a tipping point. At six points, on a neutral field, the smart play lies with the value on Peyton Manning and his Broncos. While the Panthers could still win Super Bowl 50, this is too many points for a defense this good and in a game that projects as quite low-scoring. Something around a 20-17 scoreline seems fitting for Sunday, and the optimist in me thinks it would be neat to send one of the all-time greats out on a winning note. Enjoy the game, folks!
PICK = Broncos +6 (-110)