This Sunday, February 7, the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos will square off in Super Bowl 50. Led by quarterbacks who are more than thirteen years apart in age, the teams’ journeys to the big game were quite different; the Panthers dominated regular season play finishing with a 15-1 record, as well as cruising past the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals in the playoffs, while the Broncos were 12-4 and struggled to win their two playoff games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots.
Led by MVP front runner Cam Newton, the Carolina Panthers came out of the gates strong this season, winning their first fourteen games. The team is known for their remarkable offense, which was the best in the league this season, further proving why Newton is the team’s undoubted leader. On multiple occasions throughout the team’s fourteen game winning-streak, it was Newton who led the team – soaring up the field late in games to solidify the win or mount a come-from-behind victory. If the Panthers and Newton hope to win their first of potentially many Super Bowls this upcoming Sunday, then both their defense and their quarterback’s leadership must be present.
While the road to the Super Bowl was much easier for the Panthers, who demolished the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game, Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos narrowly defeated the New England Patriots 20-18 in the AFC title game. This struggle was representative of the season as a whole for the Broncos, a season in which their “11 victories by seven or fewer points — regular season and postseason combined — are the most by any team in the Super Bowl era” (Legwold, Newton). This season for the Broncos saw their legendary – but aging – quarterback Peyton Manning have one of his worst seasons ever, throwing interceptions at the highest rate in the league. At one point, the Broncos even elected to bench Manning for his poor play. At 39 years of age, he will be the oldest quarterback to ever start a Super Bowl, let alone win one. If the underdog Broncos hope to defeat the Panthers in Super Bowl 50, they are going to need to rely on their top-of-the-league defense, which “has been next-level all season” (Miller).
In all, Super Bowl 50 between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos should be one for the ages. It features the battles of the best offense and best defense in the game, as well as the quarterback battle between 39 year old future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and the 26 year old MVP front runner Cam Newton. Who will win? I predict Newton’s leadership and outstanding offense will trump Manning and the Broncos.