One last time, it's time for the Battle Red Blog Staff to get on the record - this time for Super Bowl 50. When last I checked, the Carolina Panthers were a 5.5 point favorites over the Denver Broncos. I'm just about good and tired of all the Cam Newton controversy stories, and all the "last rodeo" Peyton stories. Let's get this thing going already.
Chris - Panthers 30, Broncos 20.
This feels like a potential blowout to me. The Panthers have been underrated and underestimated all year, but they no longer have that "advantage" (if it ever was such an advantage). Their offense is extremely dangerous with Cam playing at the level he is, and obviously the defense has been good-to-great most of the year. Denver has a great defense, but I think they'll struggle against a team with more of a running threat than the Patriots and the LeVeon Bell AND DeAngelo Williams-less Steelers. Plus, just Cam, Cam, Cam. I do expect Denver's pass rush to give Carolina some trouble, but let's not lose sight of how big Cam Newton is. He's not just going to crater or fall down when Von Miller makes contact with him.
If we want to simplify this game even further - we have two very good to great defenses, but only one great offense. I don't imagine Peyton Manning is going to summon up some magical performance completely out of the character of the rest of his HORRIBLE season just because he is who he is, and just because this is the Super Bowl.
Matt Weston - Panthers 31, Broncos 10.
For Denver to win they are going to have to hold one of the best redzone weapons in the league to field goals, not get beat by any deep passes, and hold Carolina to around 13-17 points. Then they need Peyton Manning to pull two throws out of his butt. All four of these things are possible, but not probable.
BFmfD - Panthers 24, Broncos 10.
Peyton Manning is no Cam Newton. And by that, I mean Manning doesn't have any lateral movement. With a horrid offensive line, I don't see how the Broncos can at all keep PeyPey clean even if the Panthers rush only four. I anticipate a lot of quick screens from PeyPey, but the Panthers' defense, especially at LB, is just too darn fast to make this an effective weapon.
On the other side of the ball, both of the Panthers tackles are poor in pass protection, so DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller will feast. Because Newton doesn't play in a wheelchair, however, he has a huge advantage on PeyPey. This game will be won or lost at the QB position, and Cam is the best QB in the NFL while Fivehead might be the worst one who isn't named Brian Hoyer.
Bonus prediction from the podcast: Whether due to ineffectiveness or injury, PeyPey will not finish this game, his last in the NFL.
Tim - Panthers 27, Broncos 20.
The Broncos' defense will keep this one from being a blowout. Frankly, I'm still stunned at how well Wade Phillips handled Tom Brady & Co. in the AFC Championship Game. I reckon Wade will have a thing or two planned for Cam Newton, but I just don't believe that Peyton Manning, on his last legs and against a very good Panthers defense, will be able to match Carolina score for score.
Brett Kollmann - Panthers 16, Broncos 10.
I have gone really back and forth on this one all week, but I'll say that Carolina gets a narrow one possession win for their first Super Bowl title in franchise history. Both defenses have been equally terrific in the playoffs (minus that second half comeback by the Seahawks in the divisional round), and I expect that to continue this weekend. Where the balance really shifts in favor of the Panthers, however, is at the quarterback position. Cam Newton has been playing like the MVP of this league since the first week of the season, while Peyton Manning has been playing like a backup. Elite defenses win championships, but so do elite quarterbacks, and Newton has been the best of them all in 2015.
Ryan Dunsmore - Panthers 21, Broncos 10.
Broncos defense scores Denver's only touchdown. Payton Manning doesn't finish the game and throws a pick-six. Gary Kubiak is stone-faced the entire game.
kdentify - Panthers 35, Broncos 7.
I love Kubiak and Company, but I just can't foresee a game in which they don't get boatraced. I'm sorry.
Capt. Ron - Broncos 23, Panthers 20.
I'm going against the grain with an upset prediction. Part of the reason is because I grew up a Broncos fan, and the other part is that I really hate the showboat behavior of Cam Newton. For a guy who has likely been a superstar since about the age of three, you think he would act like he's "been there" instead of celebrating like a sailor visiting his first overseas brothel at every opportunity. I'm not denying his incredible talent as an athlete, but I'm sick of everything he does after the whistle. Those are obviously emotional reasons for picking a winner instead of analytical ones, but football is emotional.
Many Super Bowl games become one-sided blowouts, and there's certainly a chance that Carolina can embarrass Denver in this tilt, but I have a feeling there is a redemption theme about to be played out. Gary Kubiak is about to be the only person in history to play for and [head] coach the same NFL franchise in a Super Bowl. Wade Phillips has a few axes to grind with former owners and critics who gave up on him. Then there is the sunset awaiting Peyton Manning, who will leave everything he has remaining in mind and body on that field Sunday. The same may also be true of other veterans like DeMarcus Ware. Let's not forget that the turnaround of this Broncos team all started with John Elway taking over the front office. He once led this franchise to back-to-back championships before he retired "on top." Can you imagine the inspirational speech he may likely offer before the game or at halftime?
This one goes into overtime tied at 20, and the Broncos defense ensures victory after a field goal puts them ahead.