Super Bowl 50 prediction

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USA Today Sports

Jeremy Johnson, Sports Editor

 

It’s finally time for Super Bowl 50 as the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos are set to square off in Santa Clara.

Nobody predicted this matchup before the season began; however, both of these squads are here for a reason.

The NFC Champion Panthers posted an impressive 15-1 record during the regular season after many people doubted they would make the playoffs after wideout Kelvin Benjamin tore his ACL.

Soon-to-be MVP Cam Newton hasn’t missed him at all.

Newton has accounted for 50 total TD’s and only 11 INT’s (including postseason) all while clowning opposing defenses.

Greg Olsen, Newton’s top target, surpassed 1,000 yards on the season and caused a problem for every team they’ve faced.

A healthy Jonathan Stewart leads the 2nd-ranked rushing offense in the league while Cam can burn you at any time with his legs as well.

To say this team is led by it’s offense would be a slap in the face to the guys on the other side of the ball though.

While the defense has given up some big plays, mainly during the regular season, it’s still stout.

The defense is led by “Captain America” Luke Kuechly and his partner-in-crime Thomas Davis.

Davis suffered a broken arm in the NFC Championship game, but says he’ll still suit up for the big game.

Coming from a guy who came back from three ACL injuries, I have no choice but to believe him.

Carolina’s pass rush has waken up in the postseason, averaging four sacks a game.

Some of those sacks have been due to great coverage by the secondary.

However, despite all the hype, Denver posts the top defense in the NFL, led by Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware.

The only team to have consistent success through the air against the Broncos was Pittsburgh back in week 13, when Big Ben totaled 380 yards.

To put things in a nutshell, Carolina’s receivers will have a tough time getting separation against Aqib Talib, Chris Harris and company.

If the Panthers offensive line can continue to buy Newton time like they have all season, then Cam will make enough plays for Carolina to win this game.

If not, the Broncos will make “Superman” look like Clark Kent.

Denver’s offense hasn’t been spectacular through either of it’s two games during the playoffs, but it hasn’t had to. In the grand finale, the offense needs a little more juice.

I expect a slow start by both teams as the defenses will dominate the first half.

In the second half though, Newton and the Panthers will begin to make game-changing plays on offense as Carolina will get separation on Denver. They will win 23-14 for the franchise’s first title.

“Sweet Caroline” will keep pounding.