GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA, February 5, 2016 — The 12-4 Denver Broncos won an AFC Title Game for the ages. The 15-1 Carolina Panthers romped in the NFC Title Game. Now both Conference Title Game winners meet in Super Bowl 50.
Super Bowl 50 (L) will be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, home of the San Francisco 49ers. Kickoff time is 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. CBS is broadcasting the game.
The Broncos began as one of the original 1960 AFL teams, are led by 39-year-old Peyton Manning. He is a pure pocket passer with football royalty lineage. The Carolina Panthers were an NFL expansion team in 1995, when Cam Newton was only five years old. Newton represents the new breed of athletic mobile quarterbacks.
Both teams have nasty defenses. The Broncos defensive coordinator is Wade Phillips, son of the legendary coach Bum Phillips. Gary Kubiak is the current head coach, and he was the backup quarterback to current team president John Elway. The Panthers are coached by Riverboat Ron Rivera, who played under Iron Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan in Chicago.
For many, Manning is the sentimental favorite. After the AFC Title Game, he was overheard on a private microphone telling New England Patriots coach Bill Bellichick that this might be his “last rodeo.” John Elway went out on top, and Manning may seek to do likewise. Sentimentality does not win football games.
The Panthers (-6) are the better football team. They demolished high-flying Arizona, who appeared to be this year’s most complete team. The Broncos staggered to a win over an opponent who staggered themselves to a 2-4 record to complete the regular season. Both Carolina and Denver are fairly healthy. Injuries will not be a factor.
America loves an underdog and a fairy tale, but this game could be as brutal as the one Denver faced two years ago against the Seattle Seahawks. Denver’s defense is better but their offense is worse. This has the makings of the expected result playing true to form.
From the Northern Georgia border to the bottom tip of Virginia, this should be a teal blue Carolinas celebration of the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Prediction: Carolina Panthers 34, Denver Broncos 20