The 2016 Super Bowl will be played on Sunday, February 7 at 6:30 pm in Santa Clara, California, at Levi’s Stadium. This is the 50th Super Bowl. This one may be very special, as the Carolina Panthers look to have a good chance of capturing their first-ever NFL title. Of course, they will have to beat Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos to do so.
The Panthers have allowed an average of 19.3 PPG. Denver has been a tad better than Carolina, limiting teams to 18.5 PPG. Here’s the skinny on these two massive defenses.
The sack attack for the Panthers is outstanding. They have 44 takedowns behind the line of scrimmage and DT Kawann Short, who is questionable with a knee, has 11 of them. If Carolina can get to Manning, the Broncos will have a tough time doing anything offensively. The Panther D is filled with premium players, including Kurt Coleman (9 PD, 7 INTS, 1 TD), Josh Norman ( 18 PD, 4 INTs, 3 FFs, 2 REC, 2 TDs), and LB Thomas Davis (5.5 Sacks, 7 PD, 4 INTs, 4 FFs, 1 REC). Overall, Carolina comes into the game with 24 interceptions, 24 forced fumbles, and 15 recoveries
While the Panthers top the Broncos in interceptions, 24 to 14, Denver is better when it comes to sacks, 51 to 44. Two weeks ago, the Denver rush was very tough on Patriot QB Tom Brady, and they could end up being equally tough on Panther QB Cam Newton. LB Von Miller (11 Sacks, 4 FFs, 3 REC) has proven to be just about impossible to handle. Another boatload of trouble is LB Shaquil Barrett (5.5 Sacks, 4 PD, 5 FFs, 2 REC). In the Denver secondary, CB Aqib Talib (13 PD, 3 INTs, 2 TDs) can create a lot of havoc.
Going into the game, there are a lot of “Probable” and “Questionable” players on both teams. Let’s face it, those who are probable will play, and if there’s the slightest chance of doing so, those that are listed as question marks will do so too.
For Denver, the running game is important. This team must create some traction on the ground to give Manning the opportunity to get the ball in the air. The Broncos have two fine rushers in Ronnie Hillman (863 YDs, 4.2 AVG, 7 TDs) and C.J. Anderson (720 YDs, 4.7 AVG, 5 TDs). They are key when it comes to the productivity of this Denver offense.
For the Panthers, the primary guy who will be responsible for their offensive output is Newton. He has tossed 35 touchdown passes and run for 10 scores. He’s the club’s second leading rusher and is averaging 4.8 YPA. Newton is also completing almost 60% of his passes. He seems to have matured greatly throughout this season and is confident without being cocky.
The Panthers started at -4.0 and are now at either -5.5 or -6.0. The over/under has ticked up a bit. It’s now at 44.5 or 45. Here’s the way we see this game. You’ve got two very fine defenses, which should, to some degree, cancel one another out. Each is quite capable of making the big play.
Where’s the major difference in Super Bowl 50? It’s on offense. And you cannot deny that Carolina has a major edge in that area. They have outscored the Broncos on average by almost nine points per game. Also, on the way to the big game, the Panthers have annihilated their opponents.
Two weeks ago, they hammered the best team in the league, the Arizona Cardinals, by a score of 45-15. The week before, they handled Seattle 31-24. Denver comes in after barely beating New England a couple of weeks ago and, also, after struggling to make it past Pittsburgh.
We like the Panthers at -5.5. We’re looking for a final score of 35-12. That puts this game just a tad over. That’s our take on Super Bowl 50.