A Super Story
There will never be a better ending to a story than the official storybook endings that future hall-of-fame players create when they end their career on top of the world. Ray Lewis, Michael Strahan, Jerome Bettis, and John Elway all did it. Peyton Manning is not just a future hall-of-famer, or the face of a franchise. Manning has been for parts of his career the face of the NFL. Manning would be a first ballot hall-of-famer in the hall-of-fame for hall-of-famers. If there is one quarterback on one of the 32 teams that is the exact opposite of Manning in regards to style of play and demeanor, that quarterback is Cam Newton. Cam Newton looks unstoppable in the past 16 games. He completely dominated the MVP race and easily led the Panthers to victories in both of Carolina’s playoff games. Both the #1 seed Panthers and the #1 seed Broncos will face their biggest challenge of the season when they play each other in Super Bowl 50. Here are 50 storylines going into Superbowl 50. (I always save the best for last)
Will CAM take over as the face of the league?
Tom Brady, Russel Wilson
Johnny Manziel, If Cameron Newton and the Panthers win this game than you will be lucky to not hear the word Cam and football in the same sentence until the start of the 2016 season.
2. Will This Be Peyton’s Last Rodeo?
Manning would be taken straight to the hospital for the mentally insane if he announced he would be returning to play in the 2016 season after a Superbowl win. But if the Broncos lose I could see him playing for the Texans, or maybe the Bills…or Jets??…Just retire bruh
3. 2011 Draft #1 Overall vs #2 Overall
This is actually one of my favorite storylines going into the game. Cam Newton and Von Miller were chosen #1 and #2 overall in the 2011 draft. They met in 2012 and Miller’s Broncos had their way with Cam’s Panthers. Miller recorded 6 tackles and sacked Cam early in the game for a big loss, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
4. Kubiak’s Offense vs Rivera’s Defense
Once again we have an offensive minded coach going up against a defensive minded coach. Like Riverboat Ron said “It’s going to be a chess match”
5. Von Miller vs Luke Kuechly
Both linebackers Von and Luke are the leaders of their respective 3/4 and 4/3 defenses. They play very different roles in different positions behind their different fronts. Miller is an OLB who wrecks havoc all over the field whether its stuffing runs behind the LOS, deceptively dropping back in coverage to help the secondary, playing the spy position to make sure the QB isn’t running around wherever he wants, and of course his specialty elite pass rushing ability. Luke is an ILB who calls all the defensive plays. Basically Luke is the quarterback of the defense. He has to read the offense pre-snap, call out the defensive play, make sure everyone is on the same page, and audible at the last second if neccesary. Both LBS play an integral role in keeping their respective defenses on top of game. If Von or Luke were to play poorly it would negatively affect the entire defense, therefore making their every snap a critical one. Which LB will embrace this once in a lifetime opportunity to lead by example and carry his team to victory one play at a time?
6. 3/4 vs 4/3
Defense wins Championships. But which defense?
7. Who will Josh Norman cover?
The Panthers often play zone coverage and they often play it very well. But when they are matched up against a true number 1 receiver they will assign their true number 1 cornerback Josh Norman to guard that receiver on a handful of the plays. One can argue that Denver has two number 1 receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanual Sanders. So which receiver will the breakout cornerback be lined up against on Sunday.
8. Emmanual Sanders vs Cortland Finnegan
The Panthers secondary is without 2 of the key cornerbacks that they won their 15 regular season games with. Scary to think about when considering how they dominated the Seahawks and Cardinals. Charles Tillman and Bene Benwikere both suffered season ending injuries late in the season, giving the second starting cornerback position to Cortland Finnegan. Finnegan has not played particularly well. As mentioned earlier the Panthers give their cornerbacks lots of help by mostly playing in zone coverages, but Emmanual Sanders and Demaryius Thomas are no slouches. Cortland is going to have his hands full.
9. Can the Broncos secondary step up to the task at hand?
Chris Harris, Aqib Talib, and T.J. Ward make up one of the best secondaries in the game, but will not have it easy on Sunday. The Broncos game plan is most likely to keep Cam in the pocket and make him beat the Broncos with his arm down the field, meaning the 3 aforementioned players will be the 3 that need to make the plays. The Panthers have 3 very different but useful tools to move the offense with Ginn’s speed, Olsen’s savvy, and Brown’s route running ability.
10. Can the #1 Defense Win Again?
When the Broncos were embarrassed by the Seahawks in the Superbowl 2 years ago, the Seahawks came into the game sporting the #1 defense in the league. John Elway must of had an epiphany while sitting in his box that day because he did nothing but bring in defensive superstars since then, turning an average defensive unit into the now #1 defense in the league. Why did he do that? (Enter defense cliche that’s not really a cliche because it is so true here)
11. Broncos #2 D-line vs Panthers #2 O-line
Pro Football Focus ranks the Panthers offensive line at #2 in the league. The Broncos defensive line is ranked by Pro Football Press at #2 in the league. In my opinion this is going to be one of the top matchups to watch during the game. When you put greatness up against greatness, you are always in for a show. The Broncos defensive line needs to generate pressure through the interior, but at the same time not let Cam get extra time outside the pocket. Good defensive line play will make or break the Broncos.
12. Will Panthers LT Michael Oher write a new ending to the The Blind Side?
The Panther’s Left Tackle Michael Oher is well known for the film based on his life The Blind Side. The movie’s plot is centered around Oher’s troubled childhood and his adopted parents that enabled him to pursue the football career that wouldn’t have been possible without the proper mentoring they provided for him. Since entering the NFL via the Baltimore Ravens 1st round pick in the 2009 draft, Oher has not panned out the way most scouts thought he would. It is fair to say this season with Carolina has been his best season yet. If he were to win a Superbowl it would make for a very good extra chapter in a new edition of the bestselling book The Blind Side. The final chapter could be called Protecting a Man Almost as Large as Me.
13. Will the Broncos be able to score?
The Broncos finished the regular season with an offense ranked 16th in the league, while the Panthers come in with the 6th best overall defense. Before the midseason QB change that gave the keys to Brock Osweiler, Manning averaged 22.7 points in the first 9 games. The Panthers tend to score a few more points than that of the average of Peyton Manning. It will be interesting to see how balanced the Broncos keep their offense in regards to run/pass percentages, and what will work for them as the game goes on. That is if they can get anything to work at all.
14. Will Thomas Davis play the whole game?
The other Pro Bowl linebacker for the Panthers fractured his forearm in the NFC Championship game, had surgery a couple days later, and was a full participant in practice a week after that. After breaking his forearm he immediately claimed that he would play in the Superbowl no matter what it took. Most of the media didn’t take his statements seriously because it is almost impossible and borderline crazy to play in such a physical position like middle linebacker with a broken arm, especially when it just broke 14 days prior. Nevertheless, he said he would play, is listed on the injury report as probable, and all the Panthers coaches have given him the green light. The only question now is how long will he last? When he makes his first tackle is his arm going to just break again? Whatever it takes to win in the big game. I applaud his courage. This is why I love this game.
15. Will either team get respect after the game?
Both teams have used the “nobody gives us any respect” card as motivation to get them through the season. Even though both teams are the number one seed in their conferences, they are still claiming that “nobody believes in us”. When the game ends, and a victor is crowned the champion of the world, which team will get the respect they have searched for all season long? Whoever it is will have one more day of screaming their favorite line “nobody gave us a chance!”.
16. Depending on the Winner, Who will win the Superbowl MVP?
By the end of the night, Cam Newton will be the 2015 Regular Season Most Valuable Player. A very prestigious award indeed. What’s even more prestigious than that? Winning the Superbowl MVP and getting the keys to a shiny new car/truck that you will be obligated to give away to whoever actually earned the award but didn’t win it because they don’t play QB. If the Broncos win than Manning will win the MVP, so long as he finishes the game and can still walk. If the Panthers win, Cam Newton will have the best trophy case in the history of the world. Maybe the only thing missing would be an Olympic Gold Medal. I bet he could shot a put like no other.
17. Who will Win the Defensive Superbowl MVP?
Oh wait there isn’t one. If there was (there really should be) then I would predict a member of the Denver secondary to have big game. I believe Denver’s gameplan is going to force Cam to throw the ball down the field more than he usually does, meaning if the Broncos want to win it is up to guys up top. Look for T.J. Ward to come through big. If Thomas Davis can finish the game and make a few big plays than you have to give that man the award that doesn’t exist.
18. Peyton’s Arm
Critics like Dave Dameshek have been questioning Manning’s arm since he was drafted in 1998. But really it just started to show signs of deterioration towards the end of the 2014 season. This year it is obvious that Manning’s second most prized bodypart (1st being his head because it hold his brain) has really started to become distracted by father time, and defenses have taken advantage by daring Manning to throw down field. With only one game left, can Manning’s arm find the strength to deliver the goods one last time, and go out as one the greatest arms thats ever been attached to a person that lives.
19. Cam’s Legs
Cam Newton has set multiple records since entering the league in 2011 for the work he does carrying the ball himself. He is not super fast like Vick was in his prime, or incredibly elusive as a scrambler like Russel Wilson. Whatever top-shelf speed he doesn’t have, he makes up for in being an absolutely gigantic monster of a human being. It all starts with his legs. Cam is the most deadly redzone threat in the NFL because of his big powerful frame, strong legs, and ability to turn into a running back at any moment. If Cam can have his way on the ground on Sunday than be prepared for an evening full of more dabs than you ever thought possible. There is no stopping the Carolina Panthers when you cannot stop Newton’s ability to pick up yards with his legs.
20. Cam’s Arm
We all know how strong Newton’s arm is, but his accuracy is his most underrated attribute. When Cam gets his feet set, he can be deadly accurate while still throwing the ball 1000 mph. Like most QBs, it is when he is on the run that the ball tends to often sail high on him, and he makes most of his mistakes. As mentioned earlier, I believe the Broncos will force Newton to throw the ball more than usual, making Cam’s Arm the potential unsung hero of the game.
21. Peyton’s Legs
Wait what? Peyton has legs? I am told it is true. Peyton does indeed have limbs below his waist. In a game as big as the Superbowl, especially in the last game of a player’s career, there is no telling what kind of crazy diehard antics a player will attempt. Peyton will be able to go all out, especially late in the game. In the final half there will be nothing for Peyton to lose regarding his health, so rushing to pick up a first down or a score is something Manning will not think twice about doing. Defenses do not have to spy Manning the way you have to with Cam Newton. Manning is a very intelligent football player so I look for him to take full advantage of every opportunity.
22. Can Peyton tie his little brother in Superbowl rings?
Eli Manning is 2 for 2 in Superbowls. Although Eli hasn’t played nearly as many postseason games as his older brother, he is still ahead in the race when it comes to Superbowl victories. I know the whole Manning family, including Eli would love for Peyton to tie that amount.
23. Will This One Be for Pat?
Broncos owner Pat Bowlen famously stated “This ones for John”, referring to John Elway when he led the Broncos to a victory in Superbowl 32 versus the Green Bay Packers. Ever since Elway became the Broncos team president he has been on a mission for a Superbowl victory that he can return the favor by holding up the Lombardi and saying “This ones for Pat”.
24. Will a daytime Superbowl have the same feel?
There has not been a Superbowl in California since 2003, meaning we have not seen a Superbowl start with the bright daylight we will see in Superbowl 50 in over 10 years. It is going to feel a bit strange for the Super Bowl to have a 3:30 start time, especially for the super Superbowl that Superbowl 50 is.
25. Will Coldplay’s halftime show be worthy of the 50th Superbowl?
Probably not. But who will make the surprise appearance? If it’s Tupac than yes.
26. Will Baldwin and Marino’s party be successful?
Any party with a snack stadium is a must-attend affair.
27. Will Brock Osweiler make an on-field appearance?
I hope not because if he does it would be for 1 of 3 scenarios, and none of them are good. The first is that Peyton gets injured. Nobody wants to see that, not even Panthers fans. The second would be Peyton getting taken out for poor play. The only way that is happening is if the Broncos dig themselves a giant hole and are down by multiple scores. I’m sure Panthers fans wouldn’t mind that scenario. Lastly, if the Broncos somehow boatrace the Panthers, and Peyton gets beat up along the way, then maybe Brock comes in for a 4th quarter burn some clock drive. But I doubt that Manning would even come off the field for that. I’m sure he would love to kneel the ball one last time no matter how much pain he is in. I always root for a close competitive game so I hope none of these come true.
28. Will Josh Norman be recognized for more than his play?
Josh Norman claims to be a master of the trash-talk. He says that if an opponent comes at him with words, then he will have wished that he didn’t, because nobody can get in the head of someone better than him. The Superbowl is a fiery game. Demaryius and Emmanual are not known for talking that smack but on stage of all stages, you never know what might break out. Norman has some words he needs to back up, so I will be keeping an eye on him in between downs.
29. How much dabbing will we see?
Over the past couple months Cam has stirred up quite a controversy involving the dancing that he does when he runs for a first down or gets in the end zone. The “dab” as Cam calls it, is now a nationwide phenomenon that can be seen all over the internet and anywhere someone might be dancing. Apparently some people don’t like him, claiming his dancing comes off as arrogant, and is a bad example for the youth that look up to him. Personally I believe those people are idiots. Cam follows the rules just like every other player in the league. Various media members have said that the people that do not like Cam are racist. I don’t think that is too logical of an assumption considering they are watching a league whose majority is African-Americans. I love it when players show their true character and have fun on the field. If players didn’t show their true personality then there wouldn’t be distinguishing factors to decipher for rooting interests. I say let the man dab. I wonder if Cam will do a little something extra since he knows a huge portion of the country is watching?
30. Will Manning become the G.O.A.T.?
If Manning leads the Broncos to a victory, and has a spectacular game doing so, then his fans could start the argument for him being the Greatest of All Time. Personally I still believe Tom Brady is the best and I am not a Patriots fan. But, 2 rings, the records he has set, the feats over Brady in the big games. Manning has an opportunity to solidify his already amazing resume, and cap off his outstanding career.
31. Will this game live up to its hype?
All year long every team has had to paint there “50” numbers in the middle of the field gold to commemorate 50 years of Superbowls. This one feels a little more special than usual. But will the game be special once it starts. Early Superbowls in the 70’s were known for being rather one-sided. Only as of late have the Superbowls been getting more and more competitive. Many experts think the Panthers are going to blow out the Broncos. I myself think it will come down to the wire. Lets hope the football gods agree.
32. Can the Broncos O-line hold up?
The Broncos offensive line is ranked 20th in the league by Pro Football Focus. That is not good. Especially when you are going up against the 5th ranked defensive line for all the marbles. It is imperative that the Broncos O-line protects their immobile quarterback and opens up good enough holes for Hillman and Anderson to exploit.
33. Can the Panthers receivers succeed against an elite secondary?
One of the main reasons nobody believed in the Panthers all season long is their lack of receiver talent. There 2014 1st round pick Kelvin Benjamin tore his ACL in training camp, leaving the Panthers with Ted Ginn Jr. as their #1 receiver. He is not the most talented receiver but he is fast and the Panthers get as much as they can out of his speed. You have to account for him every play, knowing the deep balls Cam is capable of throwing. Across the LOS, Denver will have their top rated secondary ready to shadow the Panthers receivers and shut them down. I’m very curious to see how much work the Panthers can get done through the air.
34. Will Cam Continue his Touchdown Ball Giveaways in the Big Game?
After dabbing, Cam is secondly most known for giving the in-game balls they score their touchdowns with away to children in the stands. But most players like to keep their Superbowl balls for personal mementos to put in their trophy case. Will Cam still give away his Superbowl touchdown balls to the children at the game. My vote is yes.
35. How much blitzing will be in the Wade Phillips gameplan?
The Broncos loved to blitz in the regular season. They had the 5th highest blitz frequency of any team. They threw off the Patriots in the AFC Championship by not blitzing, and having the linebackers drop back, which caused Brady to hold onto the ball longer in wait of a receiver to open up. This gave the Broncos 3 front defensive line a chance to get the sacks and hit Tom. They succeeded but now have an even tougher task at hand. Cam Newton is 3rd in the league against the blitz. Rushing only 3 defensive linemen against Cam is borderline giving up. Unlike Brady, Cam has the ability to escape the pocket, giving his receivers time to get open. The Broncos will assign a linebacker to spy Newton 90 percent of the time. The last time these two teams met, Von Miller had some success spying Cam, but that was 4 years ago. Cam is now smarter, and extremely more comfortable in his offense. Keep an eye on how often the Broncos blitz early in the game. I think they will try to get to Cam early, sending 5 and 6 man blitzes early in the game.
36. Will Vernon Davis get any passes thrown his way?
The Broncos traded for Vernon Davis earlier in the season but still have yet to give him much action. There have been a lot of surprise players becoming the surprise heroes in the Superbowls of late. Will Vernon Davis be the Broncos secret weapon.
37. Can Devin Funchess have a big day?
Early 2nd round pick rookie Devin Funchess had his first 100 yard game in week 17 against the Buccaneers. Considering Denver’s elite secondary, it will not surprise me if Carolina puts a good amount of Devin Funchess into their Superbowl game plan.
38. Will Phil Simms say “Gwyneth Paltrow”(prop bet set at .5) during the broadcast?
I’m still confused about this one. Consult the Rich Eisen show for answers. Even though I’m not too sure why, for some reason I am still kind of wondering if he will. Ill take the under.
39. Who will have a breakout game?
Last year Chris Matthews stunned everyone by coming up huge and out of nowhere for the Seahawks. Then Malcolm Butler made one the greatest plays in football history and is now the Patriots #1 cornerback. Who are the potential Superbowl breakout candidates in Superbowl 50? Devin Funchess?
40. Can the 2015 Panthers become the Greatest Team Ever?
If the Panthers win they will join the 1984 49ers, and the 1985 Bears as the only teams to only lose one game all season including the playoffs and Super Bowl. Panthers fans would definitely have a strong case for Team G.O.A.T. discussion.
41. Can the Panthers start a dynasty?
With the loads of young talent the Panthers possess they should be favorites to win the division for years to come. This could very well be the start of a Panthers Cam Newton dynasty.
42. How much impact will Luke Kuechly have in his first Super Bowl
Luke has intercepted a pass in back to back playoff games. Even though he didn’t win Defensive Player of the Year, he has played like one his entire career. I’m interested in how much of an impact he will have, especially if Thomas Davis is not 100 percent, or goes out early due to re-injuring his arm. Can Luke put this defense on his back and dominate one more team?
43. Who will Manning pick on?
Manning and Brady are not two of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL because of their physical talents. Most of their best work comes before the snap, analyzing the defense in seconds and deciding where to go before the center snaps it back. Both are known for finding the weakest link in the defense and testing their ability throughout the game. I assume Manning should be throwing Cortland Finnegan’s way a lot.
44. Can Demarcus Ware join Manning in a ride off into the sunset?
Peyton is not the only player that would think about retiring if the Broncos win. Demarcus Ware is a 9x Pro Bowler, the Cowboys all time leader in sacks, 2008 Defensive Player of the Year, along with many other very impressive accolades. I wouldn’t be surprised if he contemplated retirement should the Broncos win this game. Unlike Manning, this will be Ware’s first Super Bowl appearance, making this game extra special for him.
45. Can Rivera be the second Hispanic Coach to Win a Super Bowl?
If the Panthers win, Ron Rivera will join Tom Flores as the only two coaches with Hispanic descent to win a Super Bowl. Tom Flores won the Super Bowl twice as a head coach with the Raiders in the 1980 and 1983 NFL seasons. If Rivera’s Panthers can win then he will also join Tom Flores and Mike Ditka as the only 3 men to win a Super Bowl as a player and a coach. And what an honor it would be.
46. Will Cam be the 3rd African-American QB to win a Super Bowl?
If Cam can pull off a victory in Super Bowl 50, then he will join Doug Williams of the 1987 Washington Redskins, and Russell Wilson of the 2013 Seattle Seahawks, as the only 3 African-American Quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl. Oddly enough, all 3 games would have been against John Elway and the Denver Broncos. The first one when he was still playing, and the last two as the Broncos Team President.
47. Can the Broncos be successful on the ground?
I believe one of the most important factors determining the outcome in Sundays game will be whether or not the Broncos can get enough out of there run game. It will definitely be a tough task going up against Carolina’s 4th ranked run defense. The Broncos need to keep the Carolina defense guessing if they want to give Peyton the setup he needs to make effective throws. Carolina doesn’t play a complicated defense. They rely on the talent of their players to correctly follow assignments and make plays in a zone coverage scheme. When Carolina is bothered by a good play action, it will be all the difference in the world to Peyton Manning. The Broncos have two decent running backs in C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman who really need to show up on Sunday.
48. Jared Allen’s 1st Super Bowl
The Broncos are not the only team with a future hall of famer trying to win a Super Bowl for their last NFL game. Jared Allen is a 5x Pro Bowler, 2x NFL sack leader, 4x first team All-Pro, and is going to play in his first career Super Bowl. Allen has been a great leader for every team he has been on, and I’m sure it is no different with the Panthers. Greatness shines in big moments. Can Jared Allen steal the defensive MVP? Oh wait there isn’t one.
49. #1 Overall Defense vs #1 Scoring Offense
The Panthers do not have the #1 offense when it comes to yards. But when it comes to scoring points they are the best in the league. It will be very intriguing to see the game plan that Carolina comes out with. Cam Newton has looked very much in control the entire season. How will he fare when up against the best defense in football. The Panthers are deadly in the redzone, meaning if the Broncos want to stay in the game, they need to stop the Panthers early in the drive, and convert touchdowns not field goals when they get in the redzone themselves.
50. Old vs New(ton)
39 year old Peyton Manning will step onto the gridiron for the last time to play the most hyped game of a generation. He has been in the league for nearly 20 years, and dominated the stat sheets for most of them. NONE of that will matter to Manning if he loses this game. It just so happens that the absolute 100% most important game of his entire 17 year career is going to be his final game. Maybe this game will symbolize the passing of a torch to his opponent Cam Newton. Maybe Cam will never make it back to another Super Bowl. The NFL is surprising in multiple big ways every year. No player knows if they will ever be back in the big game. When the Broncos and Panthers take the field Sunday, could we be in for the best Super Bowl of all time? Once again we will all be treated to a game that will tell us which is better, Experience or Energy? Defense or Offense? Mental or Physical? Brains or Power? Old or New?
The second half turns into a mini-shootout and Peyton Manning delivers in the final minutes of the game.