The Newton-Manning Quarterback Battle of Super Bowl 50!
When the AFC Championship came to a close, the conversations that Peyton Manning had with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick were fairly long for the greetings that players have on the field, as the winning side is usually agitating to celebrate, while the other side is usually in a hurry to get out of the public eye. What did Manning say? That he had been honored to play against them. At the age of 39, Peyton Manning is more than likely to walk away from the game, particularly if he and the Broncos can emerge victorious from Super Bowl 50.
Kickoff: 6:30 PM ET
Where: Santa Clara, CA
Stadium: Levi’s Stadium
Spread: Panthers -5
Moneyline: Carolina -220 vs Denver +190
Game Total: 45
Stream: CBS Sports
Listen: Carolina vs Denver
Which Quarterback Should You Bet On?
On the others side of the field, Manning will see Cam Newton, the quarterback who perhaps represents the new age of the NFL the best. When Manning came into the league, way back in 1998, one of his rivals (John Elway) would become his boss. Another (Troy Aikman) would become a commentator who would call some of Manning’s games. Dan Marino and Steve Young were still in the league then, and they have entered the mists of private retirement.
Manning and these other heroes of NFL lore were the icons of the dropback passer, protected by a pocket of linemen while they found a receiver down the field, and their feats with the oblong pigskin were legendary. However, if the pocket broke down, you wouldn’t expect any of them (except for Young) to do much with their feet. You certainly wouldn’t do any dedicated running plays with those quarterbacks.
Newton, though, has become the master of the read option and the quarterback sweep. At 6-4, 250, Newton is a locomotive that opposing defenders cannot stop. This isn’t Tom Brady or Alex Smith on the run until he comes to a slide in front of you. This is a big player coming at you with speed, as likely as not to jump over you or run right through you to get to paydirt. Newton’s style evolves from one season to the next — if not one week to the next. He is always trying to find ways to grow his game. While Manning is one of the best of the old school pocket passers, his game has never grown beyond that. Newton came in as a bruiser with a strong but inaccurate arm to the most likely candidate for the MVP award for the 2015 season.
Can Newton drop back and pass? Of course. But he can also improvise on the run, and he can tuck the ball in and do as much damage as full-time tailbacks do. So when Manning and Newton take the field for Super Bowl 50, you’ll see two different eras in the sport squaring off. Manning comes in looking for a second Super Bowl win that would bring his career to a glorious end and would wipe away some of the shame of that 35-point rout the Broncos suffered in the Super Bowl two years ago. Newton comes into the game with no baggage, just enthusiasm. But it seems certain that this won’t be Newton’s last trip to the game’s biggest stage.