Carolina Panthers (15-1) vs Denver Broncos (12-4)
The time is finally here. The biggest sports event in America is coming this Sunday when the Carolina Panthers face off against the Denver Broncos. Two weeks ago in the AFC Championship, the Broncos destroyed the highly favored Patriots with lethal attacks on the edges from Demarcus Ware and Von Miller. The story has been about Peyton Manning and his potential retirement, but let’s not forget what got this team where they are and it is the highly applauded defense. The Broncos only blitzed 17% of the time and managed to hit Brady 11 more times than he has ever been hit in his career. Whether you want to give more credit to the defense, or use it to show how bad the offensive line is up to you, but regardless it is impressive.
Then, the Panthers completely dismantled the team I had making the Super Bowl, 49-15. Cam did whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, to a pretty good defense from Arizona. Not only did Cam play exceptional, but the Panthers defense forced timely turnovers to keep their foot on the Cardinals’ throat all game long. The momentum Cam and the Carolina Panthers have going into this game is something I have not seen since the Saints went to the Super Bowl and before that it was the 2007 Patriots who had gone undefeated that we have seen this kind of dominance from a team.
The Broncos have the best defense in the NFL, and all of their core pieces are healthy ready to go for this Sunday game. Cam Newton is unlike anything the Broncos have faced up to this point as he is the complete opposite of the traditional QB we have grown accustomed to in the NFL. They have not faced a mobile QB all year long and it is hard to gauge exactly how they plan on stopping Cam from being able to do that. The closest thing to a mobile QB they have faced all year long is Alex Smith and I am not about to try and compare the two.
The biggest worry I have for the Broncos though is not their defense, but instead their offense. Peyton Manning has been awful this year and it has been actually sad to watch an all time great be worse than Blaine Gabbert. The Panthers are tremendous at forcing turnovers and they have proved that all year long. Peyton has been a turnover machine this year and those are two things that do not mix well for the Broncos.
On the Panthers side of the ball, they have to efficiently finish drives as they have done all season long. Jonathan Stewart has been flowing under the radar in the grand scheme of things, but he has been more than just an effective runner this year; being 3rd in broken tackles. Drops are something that can seriously turn into turnovers against the Broncos and that is a big worry for me with Ted Ginn and other nobodies being relied upon to make big plays. Talib and Harris are always looking to make big plays and one tipped ball for an interception can easily flip the momentum to the other team.
As we saw a little over a week ago Von Miller and Demarcus Ware became the main reasons for the success the Broncos had. The Panthers have a much better offensive line and the x-factor player for me is Von Miller. If he wreaks havoc all over the field like he did last week, this game all of a sudden gets interesting. Without a huge game from Miller though, I do not like the Broncos’ chances. Sadly I could see a blowout of epic proportions and a deja vu of Super Bowl 48 where the Seahawks dominated the Broncos from beginning to end.
Panthers over the Broncos 35-10.
I see things playing out very similar to Super Bowl 48 and unless we see a huge game from Von Miller, I just do not see a chance for the Broncos. Mix together the most dynamic QB we have ever seen with a defense that is prone to force turnovers against the QB who had 14 interceptions over a 6 game span, and you have a recipe for disaster.
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