In the 50th matchup in SuperBowl history the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos will face off live from Levi stadium in San Francisco. The Panthers have been a dominant team since week one and have remained relatively consistent and healthy since week one. The Broncos were the number 1 seed in the AFC and have one of the best defenses in the NFL, however unlike the Panthers they have faced several injuries all season long and still managed to knock the Patriots out of the playoffs en route to the AFC championship.
There was a lot of expectation heading into the NFC championship game between the Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals were largely considered the best all around team in the NFL and apparently the Panthers took exception to that as they proceeded to beat them up right from the opening kickoff with 17 first quarter points en route to a 49-17 demolition. The 49 points was the most ever scored in the NFC championship game. Game MVP and regular season MVP frontrunner Cam Newton continued his season of dominance with 335 passing yards and 47 rushing yards.
Future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning was in the midst of the worst season of his career when he was injured and forced to sit out most of the second half of the season. He returned in week 16 in coming off the bench to lead the Broncos to victory. He also started week 17 and all the playoff games heading into last weekends AFC championship game vs. Tom Brady and the road favorite New England Patriots. While the Broncos have 2 of the top receivers in the league and a living legend at quarterback the backbone of this team has been its defense all season long and they continued to show that with an impressive performance against Brady and the high powered New England offense. A hard fought contest came down to a 4th and goal play from the 4 yard line with the Broncos leading by 8 that resulted in an amazing touchdown catch by Rob Gronkowksi depite him being double covered. Having to go for 2 and the tie the Patriots elected to pass again and Brady was intercepted by Brandon Roby sending the Broncos to the Superbowl for the 2nd time in three seasons.
Carolina has been the favorite ever since the line first opened it has been as low as 4 and as high as 6. Expect that it will likely end up at 5.5. The Panthers are favorites because they are the more balanced team. The Newton led offense has produced all season long and their defense is right up there with Denver as far as stopping both the run and the pass. The outcome of the game may be decided by the Broncos ability to move the ball and produce points. They haven’t had to rely on the offense all season long but will likely need Manning to have a throw back performance in order to keep pace with a red hot Carolina team that is firing on all cylinders. These 2 great teams have a great shot at making this one of the best SuperBowls ever.
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Below is our preseason predictions, posted February 2015.
Week one of the NFL season will be upon us before we know it. With the amount of turnover between free agency and the draft, some teams will have more changes than others but all will look different than last season. It’s never too early to take a look at next season’s Superbowl Contenders
Seahawks- ODDS OF WINNING SUPERBOWL 5-1
The defending champs come into the season with the least turnover amongst the recognized contenders. They will miss wide receiver Golden Tate but have the depth at receiver to replace him, including rookie speedster Paul Richardson and fourth round pick Kevin Norwood. They did fill a need in defensive end Michael Bennett who will join a solid rotation of pass rushers. The team will need to be fiscally responsible in the coming years, as they will eventually need to give a big contract to quarterback Russell Wilson.
Broncos- ODDS OF WIINING SUPERBOWL 5-1
The Superbowl runner-ups are now in full-blown Superbowl mode. They spent a lot of money on veteran defensive end DeMarcus Ware and shut down cornerback Aqib Talib. Their most significant addition was safety T.J Ward who was arguably the best free agent safety on the market. Safety proved to be a big weakness for the team last season and he will make in a difference in all of the teams various defensive fronts. They will miss the versatility and pass catching reliability of wide receiver Eric Decker and yet still managed to replace him with former Steeler Emmanuel Sanders who has the size and speed to become a number one receiver down the road. First Round draft pick Bradley Roby will contribute immediately in the defensive backfield. Michael Shofield will have a chance to become a starter on an offensive line that was embarrassed in the Superbowl and lost several players to free agency
49ers- ODDS OF WINNING SUPERBOWL 6-1
The team made an upgrade at strong safety when they lost Donte Whitner to free agency and replaced him with Antoine Bethea. He should fit in with well with the teams aggressive defense system. The trade for offensive lineman Johnathan Martin could prove to be steal if he is able to get over his off the field issues. He as a starter in Miami and brings versatility along the line. Running back LeMichael James did not play last season so this will be his rookie campaign; he brings an element of pure speed to the teams pounding running attack. Jimmie Ward will bring his ball hawking ability to secondary. Marcus Martin and Brandon Thomas will bring size and skill to the offensive line. Linebacker Chris Borland doesn’t have typical NFL size but was a tremendous tackler in college. The biggest move of the offseason was securing the services of quarterback Colin Kaepernick with a long-term contract.
TEAMS ON THE VERGE
Packers – ODDS OF WINNING SUPERBOWL 10-1
The team had rough stretch without an injured Aaron Rogers last season and will hope to keep him healthy this season. They were able to add an elite pass rusher in former Bear Julius Peppers, however he doesn’t appear to be more of a situational pass rusher at this point in his career as opposed to an every down player. B.J Raji, Mike Neal, and Sam Shields were all resigned to play for a defense that underperformed last year. They also lost starting receiver James Jones and center Evan Dietrich-Smith. Jones can easily be replaced however there is going to be problems anytime you lose a productive starting center. Safety Ha-Ha Clinton Dix and outside linebacker Carl Bradford will provide youth and speed to an aging defense. Davante Adams, Jared Abbrederis, and Jeff Janis give Rogers a trio of young pass catchers to develop.
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