A Look at the Carolina of Winning Super Bowl 50
The Carolina Panthers started out as 3.5-point favorites to beat the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50, and that line has already shifted to 4.5 points. Let’s take a look at some reasons why you should pick the Panthers to knock off Peyton Manning in what may be his last season in the National Football League.
Who: Carolina Panthers (15-1) vs Denver Broncos (12-4)
When: Sunday, February 7, 2015
Kickoff: 6:30 PM ET
Where: Santa Clara, CA
Stadium: Levi’s Stadium
Spread: Panthers -3.5
Moneyline: Carolina -185 vs Denver +160
Game Total: 43.5
Stream: CBS Sports
Listen: Carolina vs Denver
The Panthers’ Larcenous Defense
No defensive unit had more interceptions in the NFL this year than the Carolina Panthers. The secondary has gone from being a liability for the Panthers to one of their strengths. It starts with shutdown corner Josh Norman, who week in and week out has shown that he can keep the other team’s best receiver from making plays – just look at what Larry Fitzgerald DIDN’T do for the Cardinals in the NFC Championship. Safety Kurt Coleman led the Panthers with seven picks during the regular season and had two more off Carson Palmer in the NFC Championship, and he gives the defense a rough edge. Remember – Peyton Manning still has more interceptions than touchdowns this season, and the Panthers are ready to grab some in the Super Bowl.
The Panthers Have the MVP
As terrific as Peyton Manning’s career has been, the truth remains that he is on the wane as far as throwing the ball goes. On the other side of the field stands the quarterback who has earned the biggest plaudits this year in Cam Newton. Not only does he have a rifle of an arm, but he can turn the read-option into a nightmare for the Broncos. Yes, the Broncos had the #1 defense in the NFL this season, but against the Patriots they didn’t have to game-plan for the run, because they knew the Patriots didn’t use their running game. The Broncos have faced some quality quarterbacks this season, but nothing like Cam Newton.
The Linebacker Corps
There is no better pair of linebackers in the NFL right now than Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly. It’s true that Davis hurt his arm in the NFC Championship, so there will be a lot of attention paid to his health over the next two weeks. These two are first and second on the Panthers in tackles, and they can both cover slot receivers and tight ends. Each of these had four picks during the regular season, and Kuechly has had two pick-sixes during the postseason, one against Seattle and the other against Arizona. Their speed means that little plays don’t become huge plays.
Don’t Forget the O-Line
Carolina ranked #6 in the NFL in pass blocking efficiency this year, using the rating from Pro Football Focus. Even when the opposition dials up a blitz, Cam Newton has plenty of time to throw the ball. This line is one of the big reasons why the Panthers have a 31-game streak with 100 yards or more of rushing and why they ranked #2 in the NFL in rushing offense. That will make the Panthers much different from the pass-heavy approach that Denver saw against New England.