Will Super Bowl 50 be a party for Cam Newton and the favored Carolina Panthers? Will a diminished Peyton Manning and the underdog Denver Broncos pull off an upset? Here are the predictions from your Big Blue View staff members. Use our prediction widget at the bottom of the post to make your own pick for the game.
My heart wants me to take the Broncos because it's likely going to be Peyton Manning's last game, and it would be nice to see him go out on top instead of adding a third Super Bowl loss to his resumé, but, unfortunately, I think the Panthers -- and, more importantly, Cam Newton in particular - - are too good to pick against. They've proven themselves. It feels right. Give me Carolina in a close one.
Final score: Panthers 31, Broncos 28
All the Cam Newton drama in the media leading up to the Super Bowl is taking away from his accomplishments this season. With maybe the worse receiving corp in the NFL, he led the Panthers to a 15-1 season. I do think Cam is a bit of a diva, and his dancing can be excessive, but he has earned his place atop the elite QBs in this league. Both defenses are vicious, both teams have similar running games, so I have to lean Panthers. Currently elite vs. formerly elite ... I'll take Cam over Peyton any day.
Final score: Panthers 31, Broncos 17
My heart says the Denver Broncos will win, but my head says the Carolina Panthers will be victorious. The matchup that I think will determine this game will be the Panthers offense against the Broncos defense. Denver's unit performed excellently against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship, stifling the legendary quarterback all game long. Brady finished with just a 56.4 quarterback rating. Brady and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton have a similar array of talent at the skill positions, but what separates Newton from Brady is his ability to run the ball. Newton scored two touchdowns each in the air and on the ground against the Arizona Cardinals, who simply did not have an answer in Carolina's 49-15 blowout in the NFC Championship game.
The one thing that gives me pause about the Panthers is their Jekyll and Hyde play throughout the season. Carolina is clearly one of the best teams in the NFL, but they have failed to finish strong in several games, most notably against the New York Giants and in the playoffs against the Seattle Seahawks. But, the Panthers put forth their most complete performance against the Cardinals, while the Broncos offense sputtered against the Patriots. I think this game will turn out to be close, but the Panthers will find a way to close it out and win Super Bowl 50.
Final score: Panthers 31, Broncos 20
I agonized over this pick. I know what I want to happen, but I don't know what I think will happen. I want the Broncos to win, for Peyton to be able to ride off into the sunset under a shower of confetti.
But there are enough variables that I just don't know. Peyton looked a lot more like himself in the AFC Championship, but does he have enough for one more game? Can his receivers actually catch the ball when he hits them in the hands with it?
Based on what we've seen all year, I think this game comes down to the battle in the trenches, particularly between the tackles. Whichever team wins that battle wins the game. The Panthers are stronger on both sides of the ball there, so I'm giving them the nod. (Unless Peyton and Denver can turn the clock back and unleash the kind of offense they fielded in 2013)
Final score: Panthers 24, Broncos 21
As much as watching Peyton Manning win another Super Bowl would be amazing, this version of Manning will have a difficult time moving the ball. The Broncos offense has been largely mediocre and the Panthers defense is among the tops of the NFL.
However, the Broncos defense has been absolutely remarkable as well and definitely has a chance to make magic happen for the defense. If the Broncos win, it will come with timely sacks and turnovers but without a magical performance, I don't see Peyton being able to move the ball against the Panthers defense.
Final score: Panthers 21, Broncos 14
Like many others I would like to see Denver quarterback Peyton Manning go out holding the Lombardi Trophy. And no, I don't care about the silly "Eli has more rings than his brother" stuff. Peyton is a legendary NFL player who changed the way the quarterback position, and the way offense in general, is played. I will be rooting for the fairy tale ending, and crossing my fingers that he doesn't end up embarrassing himself in what will almost certainly be the last game of his career.
When it comes to picking the winner, though, I have to go with my head over my heart. Which means I have to pick the Panthers to win the game. The Denver defense is outstanding, so I don't see Carolina running roughshod over the Broncos. I just don't know that Denver can generate enough big plays to win the game.
Final score: Panthers 24, Broncos 13
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