Super Bowl 50 — The Battle In Santa Clara

Battle in Santa Clara
By Chris Saunders
Back in September, thirty two team entered the 2015 season of making it to the Super Bowl, with only half having a realistic shot of making it to the promise land.  On Sunday, the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers will square off in the 50th incarnation of the biggest event in sports.
Super Bowl 50_2016
It’s a game with the makings of a classic matchup; the high-octane offense of Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers against the NFL’s best defense, the Denver Broncos. It’s funny to think that the old guard of Peyton Manning under center pitted against the new “New era” of the NFL Cam Newton.
First, the outset of the 2015 season, the Denver Broncos were considered one of the favorites to represent the AFC in Super Bowl 50.The Broncos held up their end of the deal. Two years ago, the Broncos rode a record-setting offense to an AFC title and a berth in Super Bowl XLVIII. Their reward; a 43-8 beatdown at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks.This season, that offensive juggernaut was nowhere to be found. In fact, quarterback Peyton Manning had the worst year of his Hall of Fame career. Due in large part to an injured foot that cost him six games, Manning set a career low in passing yardage,  touchdown passes, passer rating.
Wouldn’t you know it the Broncos are back in the Super Bowl!
This time, however, they have the defense to thank. Notable players on the defensive front are lead by outside linebackers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware and the NFL’s deepest and most talented secondary, the Broncos led the league in total defense (283.1 yards per game) and passing defense (199.6 yards per game). They were third in the league in run defense (83.6 yards per game) and fourth in scoring defense (18.5 points per game). No team in the NFL had more sacks in 2015 than the Broncos’ 52. If the Broncos are going to win Super Bowl 50, that defense is going to have to play every bit as well as it did in the AFC Championship Game win over the New England Patriots.
Lastly, the Carolina Panthers entered this season as an afterthought. Carolina was the reigning two-time NFC South champions, but last year the Panthers were 7-8-1 division champs.  Carolina has spent most of 2015 taking the NFL’s teams by storm!
This team, lead by Head coach Ron Rivera; has a chance to become only the third Super Bowl champion to finish a season 18-1. No team in the National Football League scored more points than the Panthers’ 31.2 points per game this season. The defense was sixth in points allowed. Carolina’s plus-192 point differential on the season was best in the NFL.
The Carolina front seven should be able to get a push against a Denver offensive line that has struggled this season going through multiple formation changes. If Short and ends Charles Johnson and Jared Allen (foot injury) get after Manning the way they did Carson Palmer, one could imagine Manning having the same fate as Palmer.
Broncos may well have the best defense in the NFL this year; but Newton has been making defenses look silly all season long. He’s a matchup nightmare especially play too soft defensively, and Newton, Jonathan Stewart and the league’s second-ranked ground game will chew up yardage in chunks.  If you Crowd the line, Newton will beat you with his supreme accurate/strong arm over the top with wideouts Corey Brown and Ted Ginn.
The two plays Carolina runs as well are simple but tricky to beat because of their elite speed combinations. Zone reads and Jet sweep will most certainly give miller/ware enough fits. Not to mention we have gone this whole article with without even mentioning Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen. That speaks to Carolina’s weaponry.
Final Score:  Carolina 24  Denver 17


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