Peyton Manning facing off with Cam Newton seems to be the talk of Super Bowl 50. The thing is, they don’t lineup on the same side of the ball. The team that comes out on top will be the one best suited to take down the opposing defense.
The Panthers are 5.5-point favorites right now, a surprisingly large spread. The Broncos defense is the best in the league against the run (3.3 yards/attempt), and the Panthers run 48% of the time (also tops in the league). By stopping the run on first and second, Denver will force enough third and longs to keep the ball game close (Newton completes only 51% of his passes on third downs of six yards or more).
Linebacker Thomas Davis (broken forearm) and defensive end Jared Allen (broken foot) will both start for the vaunted Panthers’ defense. This is good news for corner Josh Norman and the rest of their ball hawking secondary.
Denver’s defense led the league in yards per game allowed (283.1), Carolina’s was sixth (322.9). Winning the turnover battle is crucial in what I believe will be a close ballgame. The Panthers’ defense was tops in the league in turnovers (39), and first in turnover differential (+20). Denver was 19th in turnover differential (-4). Manning was second in the league with 17 interceptions, while attempting nearly 300 less passes than league leader Blake Bortles (18). Newton is better suited to handle the Broncos defense pressure than Manning is equipped to handle Carolina’s.
The Panthers and their quarterback have not received the praise they deserve all season. That changed Saturday night. Head coach Ron Rivera was named NFL Coach of the Year and Cam Newton was crowned league MVP, collecting 48 of 50 votes in the process. Don’t think that has this team feeling complacent.
Statistics aside, this is Cam Newton’s NFL. The league MVP is the most polarizing figure in professional sports and has done nothing but silence the critics this year, that won’t stop on Sunday.
Sorry, no movie script ending to Peyton Manning’s career. It’s Superman’s time to shine. Panthers win 24-20.
Sports Chat Co-Founder