Raise your hand if you had Carolina and Denver in the Super Bowl prior to the start of the NFL season.
That’s what I thought. Now many of you might have had Denver, as the Broncos were one of the preseason AFC favorites along with New England.
But Carolina? Really?
Nobody saw this coming. A 15-1 season, plus dominating playoff wins over Seattle and Arizona, teams that are still shaking the cobwebs as they try to get the number of the truck that ran over them.
To be honest, this isn’t one of the more appealing Super Bowls to me and I’ve watched all 50. Denver is popular in this region and has the nation on its side as this is a “win one for The Gipper” game, instead you can scratch out The Gip and substitute Peyton Manning.
All eyes are going to be on Manning, even though he’s the second-best quarterback in the game. He has to somehow, some way be able to turn back the clock for Denver to have a chance. He’s going to be a sitting duck in the pocket, so I would expect the Broncos to go to a short passing game. Carolina has a ferocious pass rush and he’ll need for his ground game to give him some help.
This may be Cam Newton’s ultimate coming-out party. He’s caused a stir in the 2 weeks leading up to the Super Bowl with some of his comments. My advice is to let your playing do your talking, then let the accolades pour in. He’s perhaps on his way to being the new face of the NFL as Manning and fellow war horse Tom Brady are nearly ready for the pasture.
Denver’s defense will keep this game close. The Broncos allow the least number of yards in the NFL and have to find a way to throw Newton out of his rhythm. He’s had it easy for much of the season, playing in a mediocre division and then winning two playoff games at home. That he was able to put up 31 points on Seattle’s one-time “Legion of Boom” is an indicator of his talent and this is his grandest stage to make a statement. This could very well be the start of the “Cam Era.”
You’d think with two such spectacular defenses that it would be a game in the 17-14 range. But I think there will be a key turnover, perhaps a pick-six. Or maybe Carolina’s special teams will score as I think it has an advantage there.
I like Carolina, 27-17.