Who wins Super Bowl 50, the Carolina Panthers or the Denver Broncos?
All season long I’ve come here to make my NFL picks, and with varying success. This week is no different, with all eyes on Levi’s Stadium, home of Super Bowl 50. Who will emerge with the Lombardi Trophy? Will Peyton Manning ride into a fairytale sunset, or is it time for the era of Super Cam?
The Atlanta Falcons know a thing or two about the Carolina Panthers. In fact, they are the only team this season to beat them. The Panthers have been outstanding this year, strolling through 17 of their 18 games. Their lone defeat coming inside the Georgia Dome.
But how about the Broncos defense? No team has been as dominant defensively as Denver, and if there is a unit capable or neutralizing Cam Newton‘s offense, it’s them. So who emerges victorious in the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl?
Carolina Panthers (-5.5) vs. Denver Broncos
Can the best defense in the NFL slow down the red hot Cam Newton? Two weeks after dominating the Patriots’ offensive line, the Broncos will need a similar performance on defense to get past the Panthers.
But unlike their previous win, the Panthers’ offense poses a completely different challenge. Tom Brady beats you with his lightning quick release and precise passing. His offensive line is among the worst in the NFL and were blown away by Von Miller and the Denver pass rush.
Carolina’s offensive line is a tougher one to crack, and unlike Brady, Newton’s mobility can be used to exploit the rush if it becomes too blitz-heavy. Newton not only has a rocket arm and can make just about all the throws, his ability to take off as a runner makes him deadly. A defender must be accountable for Newton, and ready from the moment he tucks the football and takes off.
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Tackling will be an issue for Denver. Newton is built like a defensive end making him so difficult to bring to the ground. To stop the Panthers, the Broncos must neutralize Newton.
For the Panthers to win, they must simply continue doing what they have been. Impose their will on the defense and take an early lead. The Broncos aren’t built to play from behind, and a quick start from the Panthers could put the game out of sight early.
The Broncos are clear underdogs, but they won’t mind that one bit. For me, the Panthers are a class above and will hoist the Lombardi Trophy for the first time.
Pick: Carolina 30, Denver 17
Last week: 0-2
Regular season: 147-98