Everyone thinks that the Carolina Panthers will win Super Bowl 50. They opened up as a 3-point favorite and the line shot up to 6 points as everyone began betting on the NFC champions.
I am not buying into the conventional wisdom that Carolina is invincible and the Broncos are lucky to be in Santa Clara.
Lets take a quick history lesson from 25 years ago.
Back in Super Bowl XXV the Buffalo Bills were a 7-point favorite over the New York Giants. The Bills looked to be unstoppable. They beat the Miami Dolphins 44-34 in the AFC divisional game, then beat up the Los Angeles Raiders 51-3 in the AFC Championship game.
The Bills had Jim Kelly at quarterback, Thurman Thomas in the backfield, and Andre Reed and James Lofton as Kelly’s receivers.
On defense, Buffalo was led by Hall-of-Famer Bruce Smith and a linebacking corps led by Cornelius Bennett and Darryl Talley.
The Bills went 13-3 and led the league in scoring.
Carolina marches into the Super Bowl much the same way.
The Panthers dominated the regular season as they also led the league in scoring and the playoffs have been more of the same for Carolina as they ran away from Seattle early in their game then totally dominated the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship game. The Panthers look unstoppable as they try and join the 1985 Bears and the 2007 Patriots as the only teams to finish the season 18-1.
Those 1990 Giants limped into the postseason without starting quarterback Phil Simms. Journeyman Jeff Hostetler was their QB and no one gave them much of a chance against the Bills.
But in Super Bowl XXV, the Giants controlled the ball for over 40 minutes and held the vaunted Bills offense to just 19 points winning the game, 20-19 after Scott Norwood’s infamous wide right miss on a potential game-winning 47-yard field goal allowing New York to win their second Vince Lombardi trophy.
And Denver can win Super Bowl 50 with the same blueprint.
Like he did against the Patriots in the AFC Championship game, Peyton Manning needs to manage the game, not turn the ball over, control the clock, and let the Broncos defense — the best in the NFL — frustrate Cam Newton and the Panthers offense.
Now if Denver turns the ball over, this game could get ugly fast. The Broncos cannot let the Panthers get out to a fast start. They are not built to play come from behind football, especially against a fast and aggressive Carolina defense. But if Denver can sustain long drives that end in points, and keep Newton on the bench instead of in the end zone, it could turn out to be a long day for the young and brash Panthers.
I like Denver in this game, especially with the 6 points. My prediction: Denver 20, Carolina 17.