Super Bowl 50: The Sheriff vs. Superman


Craig Martin/ Journal Staff

Alexa Gagosz and Michael Franco

It’s that time of the year again when millions of Americans will huddle around their flat screens to watch yet another spectacular show of talent and sportsmanship.  For the first time since 1985, the San Francisco Bay Area will play host to the semi-centennial Super Bowl 50.

This year’s match-up lines two first seed teams against one another, the Carolina Panthers (15-1-0) and the Denver Broncos (12-4-0) in the ultimate American game.

Carolina is vying for their first Super Bowl win since joining the league in 1995. At the Super Bowl Media Day head coach Ron Rivera acknowledged how quarterback Cam Newton and the team have bonded as a family and learned to work as one.

“I think the strongest part really is that we’ve created a family atmosphere. There’s a group of guys who have come together and played for one another. I think the thing that’s really helped is they’ve taken ownership of this football team,” said Rivera.

However, Peyton Manning of the Broncos is also in the hunt. He will be competing for his second championship ring and is gearing up to have another shot at the title. During Super Bowl Media Day Manning had a chance to reiterate that.

“You try to do your part and contribute,” Manning said. “My role has been different and my contributions are different.”

Factors and statistics tossed aside, we have two really great teams playing head-to-head.

As one of the most explosive teams in the NFC, Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton has taken his game to a whole new level in the 2015 season. His team led the league in most points scored per game, coming out of last season with a near 31- point-average.

The 2011 first overall pick has really paid off for this team this past season, breaking a multitude of records including most rushing touchdowns from a Quarterback. The nickname “Superman” is certainly a fitting name for his high flying theatrics and infamous touchdown celebrations. Don’t hit the dab just yet because there are many more heroes on this roster.

Charging head-on with running back Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert, the Panthers have determined runners with Newton clocking 636 rushing yards, leading all quarterbacks in the league. The speedy Tedd Ginn Jr. and leading tight end Greg Olsen have allowed Newton to stretch out his arms as well as his legs. Defensively, they possess a few powerhouses in their line up. Luke Kuechly has been a pivotal player for Carolina this year with two picks in the last two games that both resulted in touchdowns. The veteran Thomas Davis Sr. has been a huge part of their success as a leader. Josh Norman carries the team as well, considered to be one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.

What Carolina also has going for them is that they aren’t just an on-field team. In the stands, fans provide the motivation that drives the team and reflects an electrifying atmosphere. With their key players, it’s no surprise they only had one loss this season.

With their eighth Super Bowl appearance, Denver has never been a more fearsome sight, especially with the league’s best defense guarding their end zone. With this being the final game for the record-setting Peyton Manning, he will be chasing the ring that he has been yearning for for nine years since he was named MVP for the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI.

However, football is a team sport, one man can not do it alone and their offense is not nearly as explosive. Denver’s defense has allowed the least amount of yards this season and with Manning back in the pocket, anything goes.

Manning has comeback after having foot surgery which kept him sidelined for a majority of the season. Though his arm strength maybe fading, he still has impeccable throwing accuracy to go along with his experience from being apart of a Super Bowl winning team just two years ago with the Broncos.

A player you do not hear mentioned enough is Chris Harris Jr. As one of the most complete cornerbacks in the league he is ever truly in the spotlight, but he does his job and he does it well. As he’s ranked number one in pass coverage, it’s not easy getting a clear shot at a catch when he is in pursuit.

One cannot mention the Broncos without wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. Since Manning came to Denver, he has quickly become his favorite target to throw to and will likely be a big impact in the deep-ball category. Thomas demands the opposing team’s top corner to cover him which is why he is certainly one to look out for to make big plays next week.

Von Miller, the name alone makes quarterbacks check their flanks, the single most disruptive pass rusher in the league this year, he is sure to dive in with a few well-timed blitzes to shake things up.

However despite Newton’s spectacular season, the Broncos could take the Panthers by storm and come out of the Super Bowl with a win. The Broncos could kill every potential pass that Newton throws down the field with their next-level defense that has been on display all season. With a team that has walked the winning tightrope this long, they are bound for them to fall at some point.

However, Newton is a threat to the Broncos in a multitude of ways that Manning and his team have not seen yet this season. The Broncos have not yet been matched up with a running quarterback like Newton this season. It’s difficult to say if the legendary defense will be able to hold up.

Carolina has all the intangibles necessary to come out victorious, but will the experience of the Denver Broncos expose the weaknesses of the young Carolina Panthers team? Can the young buck quarterback triumph over a veteran marksman? Only on game day will we find out.