Super Bowl 50 - A Battle between the Old and the New
By Ras H. Siddiqui
The National Football League’s main event is near, as the 50 th Super Bowl game is all set for Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on February 7 th. The two teams that will face each other in Silicon Valley this time are the Denver Broncos of the American Football Conference (AFC) and the Carolina Panthers of the National Football Conference (NFC). And if the conference championships played on January 24 th were any indication, we can look forward to a great game. So let us get our pizzas, hot wings, samosas, nachos and beverages planned because this game will be between experience and relative youth in the leadership roles of quarterbacks.
Peyton Manning of the Broncos may just be playing his “Last Rodeo” here and Cam Newton of the Panthers is the new kid on the Super Bowl block, as he makes his first appearance in the Big Game. But the way Cam and the Panthers are playing today, their “Rodeo Days” may have just begun.
Peyton Manning is 39 years old and will be 40 this March making him one of the oldest (he started in 1998) professional players in the game. He already has one Super Bowl ring as a part of the Indianapolis Colts in 2007. He is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, a five time MVP with the statistics to prove it. On November 15, 2015, Peyton Manning overtook Brett Favre as the all-time passing yardage leader. It does seem that he has been around ‘forever’ playing in the NFL and if experience alone wins Super Bowl 50, then Peyton Manning will lead the Denver Broncos to victory.
Cameron (Cam) Jerrell Newton of the Carolina Panthers is a relatively youthful 26 years of age and has been playing professional football since 2011. He is not the first African-American quarterback to play in the NFL as quarterback and he will certainly not be the last. Race is not an issue here. What is important is that he is as good at throwing the ball as he is running with it. And the fact is that he likes to celebrate his touchdowns on the field to the delight of some and the annoyance of others (some think that he is cocky). But the bottom line is that he is a very talented football player who is going up against a legend of the game (Peyton Manning), and he could be tested like never before.
The AFC Championship game won by the Denver Broncos against the New England Patriots on January 24 th was a close competition. Denver’s superior defense prevailed with just two points (20-18) separating the victors and the defeated. In reality, either of these two teams could have been playing in the Super Bowl, but the Broncos played slightly better. The NFC Championship game between the Carolina Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals was a completely different story. The Cardinals weren’t just beaten, they were mauled 49-15. Cam Newton himself ran for two touchdowns and passed to three more. The Panthers have lost just one game in this entire season as their passing game this year has been almost unbeatable. And on top of that, their defense has not been too shabby either.
A lot has been said that it is defensive teams that win big games. The statistics give the Carolina offense the edge both in passing and the rush in this game. Also (according to the statistical data on yards allowed per game) Denver has a slight advantage in defense. So will the Denver Broncos win this game? Not necessarily.
The answer may lie in the first half performance of the Panthers and the second half performance of the Broncos. If the score is close at the end of the first, Denver’s famed defense and Peyton Manning’s experience could grind the Broncos to a victory during the remainder of the game. But if Cam Newton and the Panthers end up leading by a wide margin in the first two quarters, they will continue to make it effortless in the last two.
The Denver defense has been effective against the pass but if the Panthers rushing game is as effective as it was against Arizona, then the Broncos will be in trouble. In any case no matter what some experts may predict (and I am no expert), the team to beat in this Super Bowl is the Carolina Panthers. Many of us armchair football “old timers” would like to see the Broncos win with “Old” Peyton Manning leading them and we have little history or affinity with the Panther team. But that will have little to do with the outcome of this game.
The “Tea Leaves” or “Coffee Grounds” say that the Carolina Panthers will win Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara!