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The Carolina Panthers will win Super Bowl 50

Strong defense and Cam Newton should mean Carolina’s first Super Bowl title


The Spectrum

I believe that the Carolina Panthers will defeat the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50. But with this matchup between a rising star in Cam Newton and a potential swan song for one of the greatest of this generation in Peyton Manning, nothing is ever certain.

But I would like to think the Carolina Panthers won the Super Bowl and Cam Newton already dabbed at the 50-yard line as Roger Goodell hands him the game MVP trophy.

Newton’s career is now elevated into a potential Hall of Fame career, while can Peyton Manning walks away into the sunset with his fourth Super Bowl defeat.

The Carolina Panthers are really good. Cam Newton was named MVP of the league on Saturday night at the annual NFL Awards ceremony after scoring 45 total touchdowns (35 passing, 10 rushing) without a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver. He turned the likes of Ted Ginn who is known for his drops than his catches, aging veteran Jerricho Cotchery and oft-used rookie Devin Funchess into a manageable receiving core.

Only tight end Greg Olsen is considered an above-average receiver for the Panthers. Still, there’s no superstar on that receiving core to speak of.

Newton still managed to create top-10 plays week in and week out.

“Superman” isn’t the best quarterback in the league (Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are my top two, Newton and Russell Wilson are the next two and a healthy Ben Roethlisberger is fifth for me), but he gives you everything. He’s like a five-tool baseball player in that aspect. Newton has improved his ability to throw inside the pocket, outside the pocket, when to throw the ball away and found balance in passing and running the football.

Oh, and he’s the size of a defensive end. Maybe an NBA small forward.

And yet, the Carolina offense is the second best Panthers unit.

Their defense shines.

Linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis man one of the best coverage linebacking unit in football, cornerback Josh Norman has evolved into one of the best cornerbacks in the league and their defensive line - led by defensive tackle Kawann Short and his 11 sacks on the year - creates pressure.

Despite a no-name offensive line, the Panthers have done a good job of keeping Newton up right, as well as creating holes for their running backs. Special teams is led by Ginn, who despite his terrible hands, can make a play when he catches the ball. Add it all up, put a good head coach at the top and you have a 17-1 football team.

And the Panthers danced on their opponents in the NFC Divisional Round and NFC Championship Game. Despite Seattle’s efforts in the second half, the Panthers crushed them in the first half. Same for the Arizona game, as Carson Palmer crumbled. I think both of those teams could defeat Denver, to be honest.

The Broncos will put up a fight, but mostly because of their defense. Outside linebacker Von Miller is one of the best defensive players in the league. Defensive ends DeMarcus Ware and Derrick Wolfe bring pressure from the outside, and the trio of Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby come together to create an impressive cornerback unit.

That’s the fear for Carolina. If the Broncos can bring some of the same pressure they did against New England, they might be able to hang. It’s not just the guys I listed, but some of Denver’s more unheralded players, like outside linebackers Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan who can both play in coverage and attack the quarterback. When Ware and Wolfe need a break, Malik Jackson comes in and does 70-80 percent of what they do, in terms of pass rushing.

And I’m interested in is Peyton Manning against Carolina’s defense.

Manning is, historically, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. But he’s coming off a season where he threw nine touchdown passes and 17 interceptions. There were moments in the season where one thought Broncos backup quarterback Brock Osweiler would be the better option. He literally cannot throw the ball down the field anymore.

I think Manning will have to play an A+ game to keep this close. Against New England, the Broncos had two good offensive plays, both breakdowns by New England’s defense, that led to two Manning touchdown passes. The Panthers have better cover linebackers than New England, so I doubt we see those same mistakes made twice.

The Broncos will have a chance to win this game because of their ability to bring pressure, both with four and with several blitz packages, and running back C.J. Anderson. However, I think Newton is better than Manning at this point and Newton will lead the Panthers to the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory.

Panthers 28, Broncos 23


Quentin Haynes is the co-Senior Sports Editor and can be reached at quentin.haynes@ubspectrum.com. Follow him on Twitter at @HaynesTheWriter


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