It's here. It's the big one. It's the Super Bowl.
Yes, the time is finally here for the biggest show on turf and the number one teams from each conference face off in Cali.
The little bits first
The Broncos are the first team to overcome a 24-point deficit and win against three teams and still make the playoffs. Denver's 11 wins by seven points or less in the regular and post-season combined are the most by any team in the current era.
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Plus, the Broncos are wearing white uniforms - and white uniforms in the Super Bowl have history, the team in white usual wins.The Panthers lead the league in scoring. They've had a top 10-ranked defence for three years in a row. Now let's get to the point.
This will be a close one; the last time the Broncos were in the Super Bowl the had a dominant offence and no defence, now it's a dominant defence and a sputtering offence. And they got annihilated in XLVIII. Of course, a big difference was that they were in orange uniforms - in which Denver has lost in all Super Bowls.
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But now, they're in white and although that has an uncanny win record, it won't help this time. The Broncos have to do what the 2007 Giants did and have an unplayable defence. Denver's defence during the season allowed a league-low 6.2 yards per pass attempt and 3.3 yards per rush. It's ferocious and it can humiliate any QB standing opposite. It won't be enough.
The main reason is mainly that Carolina has something Denver hasn't faced all season - a dual-threat QB with Cam Newton. There is some hope; Denver win close games - we all know how many there's been this year - and they nail opposing quarterbacks, and just don't flinch regardless of the situation.
A sign of a mature and experienced team. Yes, Peyton can unpick any defence himself, but this is a sub-standard, heading for the sunset Manning and while he may have one last hurrah in him - it won't happen as much as I and everybody else wants it to.
The Broncos offence is good but it's facing a Panthers defence that's just as strong as its own which can shut down anyone. The only way Denver will win is if they keep pace for the entire game and hope the Panthers drop off, as they have done before, in the fourth quarter. It's unlikely and Denver has been too close to losing to survive this one.
This will be a defensive grudge match between two of the best and the Panthers have two deciding factors on the offensive side of the ball. Cam and Greg Olsen. A true dual-threat QB is something Denver hasn't faced this year, and the last time it happened in the playoffs was in Super Bowl XLVIII against Russell Wilson - which wasn't very pretty.
Cam's completed 70 percent of his passes, averaging 9.92, against elite defences in the post-season. Carolina has dismantled the number two and five ranked defences already in the playoffs against Seattle and Arizona and is in the best position out of any team to get past the number one. The O-line will keep him upright better than the Pats' unit - which isn't hard - to make the plays with his arm and legs.
Olsen has been the stand-out TE and leads the team in receiving which would make him only the fourth tight end to win a Super Bowl as the leading receiver for their team after Shannon Sharpe, Mark Bavaro, Todd Christensen. Did I forget to mention they've got Tedd Ginn Jr?
Then there's the defence which includes Josh Norman, Kurt Coleman and Luke Kuechly all of whom can make key turnovers to change a game. The Panthers' D shut down a supremely equipped Cardinals offence and they'll do the same against a worse Denver pass attack.
Like I've said, I would love for Peyton to win it in his final game/last rodeo but Carolina has the better offence and a QB that can make plays with his legs. It won't be any higher than a 10-point difference probably a touchdown difference and Newton will take the MVP barring a mega defensive effort from Kuechly.