Let’s face it — if you’re not a Panthers fan, then the storyline to Super Bowl 50 is all about Peyton Manning. Winning his final game and retiring with the Lombardi trophy in his hand should silence all of his critics, even with his recent postseason letdowns. He would have a more legitimate spot in the “best QB of all time” debates, and you could probably pencil him in at #2 to Joe Montana. Everyone knows the knock on him, though: “the best regular season QB of all time”. People love to patronize the guy. Spotty playoff record, yes. 1-2 in Super Bowls: won his first, lost his second to a Drew Brees Saints squad (one of the most explosive offenses we’ve ever seen, no shame there). Lost his third SB to the Seahawks (one of the greatest defenses in the history of the NFL, again no shame). His fourth appearance isn’t any easier, playing against a VERY hot 15-1 Panthers squad. Tough draws, Peyton.
Manning’s greatest postseason stat is his record against his top rival Tom Brady in AFC Championship games — 3 wins, 1 loss — evidence that he IS, indeed, able to step up under pressure in the postseason.
Another interesting note on Peyton Manning’s Super Bowl appearances: he’s the first player to go to 4 Super Bowls with 4 different head coaches (Tony Dungy, Jim Caldwell, John Fox, Gary Kubiak). The most successful HC/QB combos produce continuity and can lead to dynasties — Walsh/Montana, Noll/Bradshaw, Belichick/Brady, and Dungy is the only one of Peyton’s HCs that comes CLOSE to the caliber of Walsh/Noll/Belichick. Manning never had that continuity after Dungy retired, but he’s found a way to get back to the big game 3 more times. Impressive.
Here’s to hoping Peyton can play the game of his life. The greatness of his legacy depends on it.
Carolina Panthers (-5) @ Denver Broncos
Wind: 5-8 mph
It’s a simple breakdown for this game: If Denver’s D-line can’t put pressure on Cam, and he’s able to be that dual threat, it’ll likely be a blowout win for Carolina. On top of that, if Denver can’t stop the Carolina run game, it’ll likely be a blowout. Two very big tasks for that Denver D.
In the Denver corner, I don’t see many scenarios where the Broncos can blow out the Panthers. If the Broncos D sets the tempo, though, then I can see Denver pulling off the upset. Carolina is very sound in every aspect — they don’t turn the ball over, and they can definitely contain the Denver offense. For the Broncos to win: Peyton Manning has to play the game of his life, they MUST win the turnover battle, and a defensive TD for good measure would be a major boost.
Admittedly, I’m pulling for Peyton… but I’m seeing a Panthers win, somewhere in the area of 30-20. You simply can not bet against a steamrolling team with a 17-1 record.
Against the spread: Carolina -5
Straight up: Carolina
Mike Procopio’s picks:
Against the spread: Denver +5
Straight up: Denver
Straight Up: 9-1
Against the Spread: 6-3-1
Straight Up: 7-3
Against the Spread: 1-8-1 (atrocious… stick with Mike)