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Super Bowl Matchup Analysis

Posted by Javier Morales on 2/3/2016 6:20:25 AM

Much to analyze while compiling the Super Bowl betting picks between Denver and Carolina starting with the effervescent Cam Newton going against Denver’s tough defense. If the Broncos can subdue Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, do they have a realistic chance against Newton and the Panthers?

The Super Bowl betting picks in this article weigh different elements of the game played this Sunday at Santa Clara, Calif. The fascinating aspect of the game is the youthful Newton, the face of the NFL in years to come, against the game’s statesman, Peyton Manning, who reportedly will play his last game of his storied career.

The Super Bowl betting picks matchups (Carolina, which is 17-1, remains a 5.5-point favorite over Denver, 14-4, at the SportsBetting.ag Sportsbook):

When the Panthers are on offense

Newton is the NFL's most dynamic offensive player bar none. He had 35 touchdown passes and 10 scoring runs during the regular season. He has five more scores in the playoffs. Tall, strong and accurate, Newton is a driving force behind Carolina getting this far. An elusive runner, he is difficult to bring down.

How does Denver slow down Newton? With the NFL's top-ranked defense, the Broncos turned the AFC championship game in their favor by constantly putting pressure on Brady. The key will be the performances of the linebackers, led by All-Pro Von Miller, who was unstoppable against New England and also had an interception. DeMarcus Ware, Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall also will try to rattle Newton.

Carolina’s use of running back Jonathan Stewart will be very important. He has to get involved from the start. The best running back in the Super Bowl, he has an All-Pro blocker in fullback Mike Tolbert in front of him. but he's facing a defense that is effective stopping the ground game.

Carolina's Greg Olsen is just as meaningful to his offense as Rob Gronkowski is with New England. Denver was able to defend Gronkowski well enough in the AFC championship game. Newton has made journeyman wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. a solid receiver, and veteran Jerricho Cotchery operates in empty spaces from the slot.

When the Broncos are on offense

Manning hasn't played at an elite level during his injury-ravaged season but he may come up with a valiant effort in what might be his swan song. Carolina will try to get as physical with Manning as possible with blitz packages and loading the line.

One way to turn that back is getting running backs C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman involved early. With All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly, the league's leading tackler, Carolina has the guy who can counteract that strategy. If All-Pro teammate Thomas Davis can suit up and perform with his broken right arm, that spells trouble for Denver.

Manning will try to balance the Carolina front with short passes and play-action plays. Wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, tight ends Owen Daniels, Virgil Green and Vernon Davis, plus Anderson give Manning plenty of options. Denver certainly provides a formidable challenge for Carolina’s All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman and Co.

Special teams

Ginn averaged 10.3 yards on punt returns and broke a 32-yarder to set up his own touchdown run against Arizona in the NFC title game. Placekicker Graham Gano finished second in the NFL in points with 146, and is decent from long range. He also missed three PATs in 2015. Denver placekicker Brandon McManus hit 30 of 35 field goals during the season and is perfect on all seven in the playoffs. He has range, too, and gets lots of touchbacks on his kickoffs. The Broncos are without kick returner Omar Bolden, but their coverage squads are solid. Punters for both teams – Denver’s Britton Colquitt and Carolina's Brad Nortman have experienced average seasons.


Ron Rivera, the NFL Coach of the Year in 2013, is a front-runner for the award this season. A solid defensive assistant and coordinator for years, he finally got his own team in 2011 and has gone 49-34-1, with three straight NFC South crowns. Rivera has been called "Riverboat Ron" for his willingness to take chances in games. Gary Kubiak spent eight seasons coaching the Texans after being John Elway's backup for much of his playing career. Elway summoned him to replace John Fox after last January's postseason debacle against Indianapolis. Kubiak's offense required many adjustments from Manning, and the most cerebral of quarterbacks made most of them swiftly. Just as significantly, when Manning went down, Kubiak and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison tutored backup Brock Osweiler well enough to keep the Broncos on track for the AFC's top seed.


Manning's quest for a second Super Bowl ring and the chance to go out on top like his boss Elway did in 1999 is a good story. Manning isn't saying outright this is the end of his Hall of Fame career, despite all the indications it will soon be over. His teammates not only want the perfect send-off for him, but to erase memories of the rout against Seattle two years ago. The Panthers believe that despite having the NFL's best record all season - and one of the best in NFL history - they do not get the respect they deserve.

The Pick

Carolina has only one loss with dynamic players on both sides of the ball. The Panthers’ playmakers are more dominant than what Denver has and you can’t overlook that 17-1 record. Take Carolina -5.5.

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