So it all comes down to this. The Carolina Panthers versus the Denver Broncos.
In our Conference Championship preview we talked about the battle between the two old foxes, Brady and Manning. The Denver Broncos needed to find a way to score if they were to advance to the 50th edition of NFL’s big dance. And with Peyton Manning mustering up everything he had in his tired, sore and 39 year old body to help find a way, the Broncos held on to win 20-18.
As much as the QB gets the spotlight in the NFL, all credit must go to the Broncos defence for their ability to stop the opposition. They have been the best defence all year and they showed why against New England. The Broncos defence has given up the fewest yards in the NFL and Broncos linebacker Von Miller showed why, putting future Hall of Famer Brady into the dirt multiple times, finishing with 2 ½ sacks and interception.
In the other Conference Championship match, our prediction came true with the Carolina Panthers having far too much firepower and tricks for the Arizona Cardinals, winning 49-15. Likely MVP Cam Newton was simply superb, making 19-28 passes for 355 YDS and 2 TD, along with running for another two TDs. The 49 points scored by the Panthers was the most in an NFC title game and they head into Super Bowl 50 firing on all cylinders. Arguably the highlight of the night was Newton’s Superman impersonation when he rushed at the end zone and flipped over a string of players to score.
So it all comes down to this Sunday night in at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
The story lines are clear, the best defence side in the league, Denver, against the best offensive side in the league, Carolina. The most dynamic Quarterback in the league versus the oldest Quarterback in Super Bowl history. Some may see this as the handing of the baton, from the five time MVP Manning to Cam Newton who has the potential to equal those numbers by the time he is finished playing.
Manning is the only Quarterback to take multiple teams to multiple Super Bowl’s, and many expect this will be his final game. There is no doubt he is hurting and he is beat up. He has also had to deal with an Al Jazeera story alleging he has taken Human Growth Hormone in the Super Bowl lead up.
Newton and the Panthers have had a dream run in 2016 and now find themselves staring down the barrel of a first ever Super Bowl title for their franchise.
Most punters expect the Panthers to have too many weapons and offensive options for the Broncos. How much does Peyton Manning’s big game experience count? Can the Panthers and Cam Newton handle the pressure and spotlight that comes with a TV audience of over 120 million people? Can the best defence in the league find a way to stop the Panthers juggernaut? Will there be a wardrobe malfunction for Beyonce or Cold Play? All these questions will be answered on Sunday Night in Superbowl 50.