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Super Bowl 50 - Carolina Panthers vs. Denver Broncos

The Panthers and Broncos faceoff in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday in Santa Clara, Calif., in what could be Peyton Manning’s final game.

This will be Manning’s fourth Super Bowl with a record of 1-2 in those games. This is Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s first Super Bowl. However, Newton is use to the spotlight. He won the 2010 Heisman Trophy and a National Championship while at Auburn.

This matchup of quarterbacks is one for the ages. Newton was 13 when Peyton started his first NFL game. Both quarterbacks played in the SEC, Cam at Auburn and Peyton at Tennessee. Peyton is seen all over the place from commercials to hospitals to Saturday Night Live. While, Cam is seen giving footballs to kids after touchdowns, dabbing after victories and being a fashion icon with his GQ style.

Cam Newton dapping

On Sunday, Manning will become the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl at the age of 39. However, this season has not been Manning-esque. He was benched in the middle of the season and afterwards was said that his bad play was due to a foot injury. Since returning from that injury though, he has led the Broncos to three straight wins including victories in the playoffs over the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots.

It’s been a completely different story for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. The team is 15-1, and Newton, who leads the NFL with 45 touchdowns (35 passing and 10 rushing) this season, is sure to lock up the NFL MVP award on Saturday. The one loss on their schedule was to a mediocre Atlanta Falcons team in Week 16 of the regular season. This team could easily be undefeated going in to this game. Since that game the Panthers have destroyed their three opponents including the Arizona Cardinals and the defending NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks.

This should be a game of great offenses against great defenses.

For Carolina to win, the Panthers must get off to another hot start like they have during the playoffs. If they can jump out to a 14-point lead, the game might be over soon. This isn’t the Peyton Manning of years past, he isn’t able to sling it around 50 times a game and still be expected to win. This is a much more balanced attack.

Josh Norman of the Carolina Panthers

Secondly, the Panthers feature one of the top cornerback in Josh Norman as well as other solid defensive backs. They must blanket Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders if they are going to have a chance to win. Denver’s passing attack has not been very strong this season, but those two guys have flourished when their number has been called. However, against the Patriots, it was tight end Owen Daniels who came up big with two touchdown receptions.

And lastly, the broncos are 7-0 this season when rushing for more than 130 yards. Linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis have to stop the run. This could be difficult for Davis who broke his arm in the team’s last game against the Cardinals, but he has vowed to play in what is the biggest game of his career.

For Denver to win, the Broncos defense must shut down Cam Newton. That’s easier said than done. But, the Panthers don’t have a super strong rushing attack outside of when they are within five yards of the goal line with Mike Tolbert and Fozzy Whittaker. The Broncos defense is why the team is in the Super Bowl, so for them to win it, the defense has to step up once again. Look for the defensive line with help from linebackers Demarcus Ware and Vonn Miller to try and put pressure on Newton. Broncos Defensive Coordinate Wade Phillips hasn’t been afraid to bring pressure all season. He knows that he his defensive backs are more than capable of holding their own without any help.

Von Miller of the Denver Broncos

Secondly, Peyton has to get the ball to his playmakers. He has been a turnover machine this season. But since the playoffs started he hasn’t thrown an interception and has fumbled it once on a backward pass, but that was on the running back more than Peyton. It will be difficult for Peyton to get the ball to Demaryius Thomas, because he will probably have Pro-Bowl cornerback Josh Norman covering him all night. I doubt the Sherriff shies away from throwing at him though.

Lastly, the Broncos must run the ball. It might be tough to get the ground attack going with a stout defensive front seven of the Panthers but don’t give up on it too early. Like I said earlier, the Broncos are 7-0 when they rush for over 130 yards.

In what I think is a very intriguing matchup of offenses and defenses, I think the Broncos get enough done in the end to send Peyton out just like the ‘98 Broncos sent John Elway out on top after winning Super Bowl 33.

I’m taking the Broncos with a 28-20 victory even if the money is coming in heavy on the Panthers.

Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos

Images via: sportingnews.com, variety.com, blogs.denverpost.com