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Andy McDonald’s guide to Super Bowl 50

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Andy McDonald – Collegiate Staff

After 16 weeks of regular season and three weeks of playoff football, we now have an AFC and NFC champion who will play for the Vince Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl 50.

The Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers have strong points and weaknesses, but to break it down and find out who should win, we’ll have take a look back at the entire season and find out how the teams will match up against each other on paper.

Denver Broncos

Record: 12-4 (regular season)

Offense

Total Offense: 9th

Points Per Game: 22.2 (19th)

Pass Yards Per Game: 248.1 (14th)

Rush Yards Per Game: 107.4 (17th)

Defense

Total Defense: 366 yards per game (10th)

Points Allowed Per Game: 18.5 (4th)

Pass Yards Allowed Per Game: 301.5 (12th)

Rush Yards Allowed Per Game: 64.5 (2nd)

Team Summary: Denver might have the best defense in the league now that the offense is giving them more time off the field. Peyton Manning has looked much better in the playoffs than he did during the regular season, and did enough to beat the defending Super Bowl Champion New England. This team is full of playmakers on offense, but I believe their best position is receiver where Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders will hurt you with big plays down the field. They have not had the greatest running game all year, but C.J. Anderson can rip off a big run at any time, and both Anderson and Ronnie Hillman are good receiving backs. Defensively, one of Denver’s best play makers is found in the secondary, Aqib Talib. He’s a seven-year veteran who will step up and make plays, and it helps when you have a defensive line, lead by Vonn Miller, who is constantly getting to the quarterback.

Carolina Panthers

Record: 15-1 (regular season)

Offense

Total Offense: 1st

Points Per Game: 31.2 (1st)

Pass Yards Per Game: 224.3 (24th)

Rush Yards Per Game: 142.6 (2nd)

Defense

Total Defense: 345 yards per game (7th)

Points Allowed Per Game: 19.2 (6th)

Pass Yards Allowed Per Game: 276 (9th)

Rush Yards Allowed Per Game: 69 (3rd)

Team Summary: Carolina ranks in the top 10 of most major categories on offense and defense. Cam Newton is the centerpiece of this team and makes it go due to his leadership and versatility. The rushing attack for the Panthers is a lethal combination of Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert at running back, and Cam Newton on read-option plays or scrambles out of the pocket. Ted Ginn Jr. is the team’s most experienced receiver, but there is not nearly as much skill in the receiving core as the backfield. Greg Olsen has also been a huge receiving threat all year out of the tight end position.The defense for Carolina has been a solid group all season, and has been led by their linebacker play. Luke Kuechly leads the linebackers with his ability to see the ball well and make big plays when they need it most.

Keys to the game

  • Whoever wins the battle up front between the Denver defensive line and the Carolina Offensive line will be able to control the flow of the game.
  • Peyton Manning or Cam Newton? Obviously QB play is always big, but both teams have talented secondaries that will make huge impacts in this game.
  • Can Denver run the ball? Peyton Manning will need help from C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman to open up the passing game for him and take some heat off the pass rush.
  • Special teams? Ted Ginn Jr. has been a threat returning the football on punts and kickoffs since college, Denver can’t allow him to get space and change field position.
  • The two-minute drill should be key in a close game. The question is, will Peyton Manning’s experience in close playoff games become a factor late over Cam Newton’s limited playoff games?
  • Can the Denver defense start quick out of the gate? Carolina has killed both Seattle and Arizona early in the game by getting major leads that are too much for opponents to come back from.

My Take

One of the hottest defenses in Denver is meeting up with the best offense in football – Carolina. It should be a great game, as I don’t see any kind of blowout.

I don’t see the Panthers getting a huge lead in the first half like they have in their first two playoff games because the Denver defense has a lot of pride. However, I think the Carolina rushing attack will be much better than Denver’s ground game, allowing the Panthers to win the time of possession battle. Peyton could be playing in his final game, but I don’t see his offense being able to keep up with Carolina’s quick-strike attack as the game goes on. I have the Carolina Panthers winning Super Bowl 50, 31-20.

Super Bowl 50 will be played at 6:30 p.m. February 7th at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The game will be televised on CBS.