The Denver Broncos are moving on to Super Bowl 50 after an impressive 20-18 AFC Championship Game victory over the New England Patriots, and will now face an even more daunting challenge in the Cam Newton-led Carolina Panthers. Many didn't give the Broncos a chance against the Patriots, but their defense turned in a dominating effort, capped off with a stopped two-point conversion at the end of the game that prevented overtime.
The Panthers looked unstoppable in their 49-15 NFC Championship Game win over the Arizona Cardinals, but unstoppable offenses have been shut down cold in Super Bowls past. Do the Broncos have what it takes to pull off the upset and raise the Lombardi Trophy for the first time since 1998?
5 Reasons the Denver Broncos Will Win Super Bowl 50
After another middling performance by Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ offense, it's hard to see them keeping pace with the Panthers in a high-scoring affair. That's why Denver's defense is critical to keep the game close enough for its offense. It all starts with the impressive trio of Derek Wolfe, Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, all of whom contributed to laying more hits on Tom Brady than he saw all season. However, a pocket QB like Brady and Cam Newton are completely different beasts, and instead of just pinning their ears back and rushing the passer, the Broncos’ front will need to be smart and contain Newton from getting outside of the pocket. The defense certainly has the speed and athleticism to counter Newton's other-worldly talent, but the MVP will still make his share of plays.
2. Super Bowl XLVIII Loss
The Broncos were embarrassed by the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII and many will predict Super Bowl 50 will play out similarly. But that experience should serve the veterans of Denver well in their preparation. If nothing else, the Broncos will go into the game as significant underdogs and that mindset is always helpful to a team. On the other side, this is Carolina’s first Super Bowl appearance in more than a decade. Will the Panthers know how to handle these next two weeks, which are loaded with distractions? Denver has been here before and should play relaxed knowing that no matter what things can't go worse than they did on the same stage two years ago.
Of course the Panthers trounced the Cardinals after getting seven turnovers, and the Broncos will know that's something they can't do. The Broncos have just one turnover in their two playoff games and have been safe with the ball after Manning threw 17 interceptions to just nine touchdowns during the regular season. If the Broncos can continue to be safe with the ball and not give the Panthers extra possessions they should remain within striking distance on the scoreboard.
4. Peyton Manning
Manning certainly is no longer the player he once was and after a brilliant first drive against the Patriots he and his offense didn't do much else the rest of the game, but you cannot discount a player with his experience and how his teammates will rally around him in what could possibly be the last game of his storied career. If Manning can make the safe throws and the Broncos can revive their running game that was largely shut down by New England, the Broncos can score enough points to win. But you can never rule out one of the best to ever play the game.
5. One-Game Scenario
The Panthers don't appear to have any major flaws while the Broncos got to the Super Bowl riding their defense and hiding their offense. Still, in a one-game scenario, you can throw just about everything out the window. Denver, despite its apparent weaknesses, still has an impressive collection of talent, capable of breaking open a game at any moment. With two weeks to prepare, the Broncos and their veteran coaches will have a plan in place that they believe in. If their players can execute and limit mistakes, it could be anyone's ball game. Super Bowls are often strange games unto themselves, and the veterans of Denver will know how to manage the ebb and flow of not only the build-up to the game, but in the game itself. If Carolina gets caught up in distractions or the game not unfolding as the blow out many will predict, the door will be wide open for a Broncos' victory.
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