It’s officially Super Bowl season. On February 7, more than 1 in 3 people in the U.S. will be tuning in to watch Super Bowl 50. It’s the day that we consume more food than any other day of the year, second only to Thanksgiving. It’s perhaps the only event people will tune in simply to watch the commercials. According to Fortune, a 30-second commercial will cost upwards to $5 million. And to top it all off, Coldplay and Beyoncé will be playing the Super Bowl Halftime show. There is so much excitement that surrounds the Super Bowl that at times it can be forgotten that a football game is actually being played. So we at Risq would like to take this time to break down the actual game for those of you that aren’t all caught up. Without further ado, here is your Super Bowl cheat sheet:
Denver Broncos: 8th Super Bowl Appearance
The Broncos are playing in their second Super Bowl in three years. The last time they played in the Super Bowl they were beaten by the Seattle Seahawks 43-8, despite having the highest scoring offense in the history of the NFL. This time around, however, they boast a below average offense that only scored 22.2 points a game. The Broncos have been carried by their defense throughout the year, which according to the NFL, ranks No. 1 in the league. It could be argued they have more on the line, as the Broncos have several key players close to retirement, or could be leaving for free agency. The window for this organization is closing, and fast.
Carolina Panthers: 2nd Super Bowl Appearance
In 2010, the Carolina Panthers finished worst in the league at 1-15. Five seasons later, after drafting a franchise quarterback, coaching changes, roster changes and three straight trips to the playoffs, the Panthers are 15-1 and in the Super Bowl. The Panthers have been dominant this year. According to Pro Football Reference, they boast the highest scoring offense in the NFL, an elite defense that gave up only 19.2 points a game (ranking them No. 6 in the league), and have the highest win margin in the NFL this year. While most fans will be rooting for the Broncos, the Panthers on paper have the edge. They have dominated some of the best in their conference, which includes teams some consider better than the Broncos.
Players and Matchups
- Peyton Manning (Broncos’ Quarterback) – This will be Manning’s 4th Super Bowl appearance. Despite a stellar defense and a rather lackluster offense, Manning will still be the focal point of this team come Super Bowl Sunday. He is the oldest quarterback in the NFL, and has missed six games this year due to injury. This Super Bowl is big for Manning. Despite owning almost every passing record there is, Manning has disappointed in the playoffs and the Super Bowl. He has lost more playoff games than any quarterback in NFL history and has a 1-2 record in the Super Bowl. This is going to be seen as a chance for Manning to cement his legacy not only as the best regular season quarterback ever, but the greatest in history. If he wins, most expect him to walk away from the game a champion. If he loses, well…does he have it in him to come back and try again?
- Cam Newton (Panthers’ Quarterback) – He is one of the most polarizing figures in the sports world right now. Some call him arrogant and cocky, while others say he is only having fun. He is Cam Newton: Dab expert, and most likely the NFL’s MVP this year. Love him or hate him, Newton has been nearly unstoppable this year, scoring a league high 45 touchdowns and guiding his team to a 15-1 record, despite his main weapon Kelvin Benjamin bowing out due to an ACL tear. Several figures in the football world, namely Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman, say that Newton is the most dangerous player in the NFL right now. He is versatile, and very good at what he does (AP awarded him All-Pro this year). Expect him to have a big game and the media to be very focused on him.
- Panthers’ Linebackers vs. Broncos’ Linebackers – One of the most exciting aspects of this game is the defense of both teams, namely the linebacking corps. These are arguably the two best linebacking corps in the game today. This matchup is interesting however, because both corps match up specifically well with the offense they are facing. The Panthers linebackers specialize in pass coverage. This could be key, because Manning was No. 2 in interceptions this year despite missing six games. Meanwhile, the Broncos linebackers specialize in putting pressure on the offensive line (the Broncos had 52 sacks this year, the best in the NFL), which will help against the Panthers run heavy offense, and an offensive line that was only slightly above average in pass protection this year.
It’s the 50th Super Bowl
For those who are not attuned to the football world, this is a big occasion in sports. And the NFL is making sure the event is celebrated correctly: the game is being played in the stadium closest to where the original game was played, it’s being broadcasted on CBS (the station the first game was broadcasted on), and several other nods are featured, not only to celebrate the occasion of the Super Bowl itself, but the history of it as well.
Who Will Win?
On paper, the odds are in the Panthers’ favor. They have been dominant all year, while the Broncos have looked merely mortal for a large part of it. If there is any defense that can stop the Panthers’ offense however, it is that of the Broncos. The Broncos will have to contend with their offense, however, which has been their Achilles heel all year. The key will be to not fall behind, as the Panthers lately have scored early and often, outscoring their previous two opponents 55-7 in the first half. However, the Broncos have Super Bowl experience. But will it be enough? We’ll find out on Sunday.
Image courtesy of: AP/Charlie Riedel via The Blaze