Is this the match up the NFL wanted? Possibly not. The Broncos have a reasonably large following and in a recent Harris Poll they ranked 4th in terms of USA’s favourite team – the Carolina Panthers however came in at 16th most popular. Oh how the NFL must wish that “America’s team” the Dallas Cowboys were on form.
The Broncos have an awful Superbowl record – they have won two however have lost five in seven appearances – a 28% hit rate. This year they will be led by 39 year old quarterback and NFL legend Peyton Manning. Manning himself has a bad Superbowl record – appeared in three – won one. This will be his 4th and more than likely his last. Two years ago Denver went into New York to face the Seattle Seahawks in Superbowl 48. Manning will certainly want to forget the drubbing that was all over by half time.
The Broncos job on the Patriots in the AFC Championship game was not only effective as it was surprising. They harassed Tom Brady to the point where he was ineffective and they hit him something like 20 times. This game should prove different with Panthers and MVP Elect, Cam Newton, at their helm.
This is a classic Old school versus New School quarterback dual and the first Superbowl between two quarterbacks drafted as a no. 1 pick – albeit 1997 versus 2011 – and a trivial fact – the no.2 pick in the 2011 draft after Cam Newton was current Broncos Pass Rusher and Quarterback harasser Von Miller.
The Carolina Panthers were there in 2004 against a then dominant Patriots, losing to a last minute field goal in what some have called one of the best Superbowls games ever.
Denver General Manager and Broncos legend John Elway has been building a team to achieve a title and this is possibly his best chance with an experienced team. Denver coach Gary Kubiak will be the first to appear in a Superbowl as a player and coach for the same team (albeit as a backup Quarterback behind Elway).
Carolina Coach Ron “Riverboat” Revera has surprised with his style this season – three years ago fans were calling for his firing due to his conservative coaching approach. A member of the 1985 “Monsters of the Midway” Chicago Bears Superbowl winning team, he has some pedigree in NFL history as well.
The Panthers after their emphatic beat down of Arizona in the NFC Championship game have a 5.5 point start however this looks like a classic offence versus defence match up.
Those with some sort of NFL empathy will be wanting Manning to get a win in his last rodeo (as he himself quoted) however Cam Newton and his players, that have played like a “team” this season, should have the edge, and will want to wipe away the franchise’s 2004 disappointment from their last and only appearance in Americas biggest game.
Dont forget to follow Hamish on Twitter