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Sunday, 7 February 2016

Super Bowl 50 Pick- Carolina Panthers vs Denver Broncos (Sunday 7th February 2016)

With just one game left to play before the NFL goes into the off-season, the Super Bowl in Santa Clara looks like being the right event between the two best teams in the NFL this season.

Will Cam Newton add to the College National Championship and Heisman Trophy he has already won in his career? Or will the Sheriff have his last gun fight and leave with his second Super Bowl ring?

There are a lot of split opinions on Super Bowl 50 and here is mine.

Carolina Panthers vs Denver Broncos Pick: This is the second time in three seasons that the Denver Broncos will have made the Super Bowl, although this time you can they have done in spite of Peyton Manning rather than because of him.

There is little doubt that Manning has been the biggest name game manager for the Denver Broncos who have relied on a stellar Defensive unit to carry them through the season. And it really is a legitimately strong Defense but they will need to be at their very best having seen the Carolina Panthers score plenty of points against the Seattle Seahawks vaunted unit (twice) as well as the crushing of the Arizona Cardinals.

The Broncos will rightly feel they have a better Defensive unit than both of those teams as they are strong at all three depths. Denver have been able to stop the run which allows them to unleash a pass rush heavy Defensive Line, while the likes of Brandon Marshall are strong at Linebacker and Bradley Roby, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris help put together a very good Secondary.

However this is the first time Denver will be playing a Quarter Back like Cam Newton and shutting him down is a completely different matter. Unlike the banged up Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady, Newton will be able to move in the pocket and also creates a problem in making sure that he doesn't get out of the pocket and run for First Downs himself.

Newton has made use of a Receiving corps that isn't full of household names, but they have speed and have been able to create the big play through the air. The first element of the Offense is establishing the run, but Cam Newton is so much more than a read-option Quarter Back and I do think he will find creases in the Defensive unit.

If the Panthers continue their strong Offensive output, the pressure is going to build on Peyton Manning to turn back the clock. He will be aided by Ronnie Hillman and CJ Anderson who should be able to get the run games established, but Manning can only keep handing the ball off if the game is close even if the Panthers have struggled to contain the run effectively in recent games.

It might sound strange to some, but the real weakness in the Carolina Defense is in the Secondary but can the Denver Receivers get past the drops that have haunted them this season? A bigger question may actually be whether Peyton Manning has the arm strength to attack that weakness and the answer for me is that he doesn't any more.

This is also a ball-hawing Secondary that will look to pick off any stray passes that Manning throws and I think it might end up being a crucial difference. While Manning has looked after the ball in the last couple of Play Off wins, it was his pick-six in the Super Bowl against the New Orleans Saints that cost the Indianapolis Colts on that day and I wouldn't be surprised if that is the reason the Denver Broncos go down in Super Bowl 50.

I have a lot of respect for the Denver Defense and the way they have played, but this Carolina team are perhaps a little under-rated Offensively. The Panthers have found a way to score points against teams like Seattle and Arizona and I think they will do the same here except the difference will be that Peyton Manning is not going to be able to lead a comeback with his arm.

Maybe Manning turns back the clock to even the form he showed two seasons ago? That would make the points on Denver very, very appealing, but I think the Panthers prove too good on the day with a pick-six being the reason they cover the spread too as Cam Newton adds another couple of trophies to his ever improving cabinet.

MY SUPER BOWL PICK: Carolina Panthers - 4.5 Points @ 1.95 Coral (2 Units)

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