Super Bowl 50 Preview, Analysis and Prediction

February 1st, 2016 by Kyle Lutz | Filed under Football, General, NFL.

In the first Super Bowl without roman numerals attached to the title, it should be a good one, with two of the best quarterbacks in recent history squaring off against each other. One of the two’s a future hall-of-famer, and arguably the best signal caller in NFL history, in Denver’s Peyton Manning, who’ll most likely retire after the game (at age 39), and the other’s a future-MVP (who could very well win it after this year) in Carolina’s Cam Newton.

Carolina finished with one of the best regular seasons in NFL history this year, starting their season 14-0, and ending up as the NFC’s # 1 seed, at 15-1. They led the league in most All-Pros selected, with six, and Pro Bowlers selected, with 10. With their 15-1 regular-season record, they became just the sixth team in NFL history to accomplish the feat, since the league adopted a 16-game-schedule format in 1978, and just the seventh team to win at least 15 or more games in a season (in 2007, New England went undefeated).

Out of those seven teams, only two (the ’84 49ers and ’85 Bears) teams won the Super Bowl. Carolina’s head coach, Ron Rivera, was a backup linebacker on that ’85 Bears team. This is his fifth year coaching the team, and only his second winning season so far. On the flip side, Denver’s head coach, Gary Kubiak, is in his first year with Denver, after coaching Houston for eight seasons from 2006-13. This season was Kubiak’s reunion with Broncos’ GM/executive VP of Football Operations, and Hall of Famer, John Elway, after the former backed up the latter in Denver years ago (1983-91).

Peyton Manning certainly has experience, whether that’s a good or bad thing, in postseason games, as he ranks second all-time in quarterback postseason starts. Next Sunday’ll be his 27th career postseason start, which will keep him in second place, four games behind his rival Tom Brady, who he beat in the AFC Championship Game a week ago. Manning is 13-13 in those games, with one Super Bowl win, while Brady is 22-9 in 31 playoff starts, with four wins.

Solidifying his MVP campaign this year, Cam Newton became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 30 or more touchdown passes and run for eight or more touchdowns (he ran for 10). He ranked second in the league in passing TDs (35), second in yards per completion (13), first in TD% (7.1), second in game-winning drives (four), second in Approximate Value (20), and first in quarterback rushing TDs (10).

In the regular season, Denver’s defensive unit ranked first in the league in fewest total yards allowed (4530), fewest total passing yards allowed (3193), fourth in fewest points allowed (296), and tied for fourth for most fumbles forced (13). On the flip side, Carolina’s offense ranked first in points (500), second in rushing yards (2282), and fourth in first downs (357). Their defense was amazing, too, to say the least, led by first-team All-Pro inside linebacker Luke Kuechly, and corner Josh Norman. Norman kept one of the best WRs in the league, New York Giants’ star Odell Beckham, Jr., to under 100 yards and just 12.7 yards per catch, and the latter was suspended days later for his lack of personal conduct in the game.

Despite ranking second this year in interceptions (17), and having the worst season of his career, Manning will look to rebound strong vs. one of the best defensive units in the NFL in recent memory. Manning’s faced some pretty good defenses in the AFC in the past decade, but despite his lack of clutch play in playoff games, his experience could provide him with a strong match-up vs. Newton’s inexperience in the postseason. Newton only has three career playoff wins, and two more passing touchdowns than interceptions (8-6).

Another phenomenal match-up Sunday’ll be Denver’s defensive line vs. Newton (specifically, Newton’s speed/legs). This year, Denver ranked first in sacks (52), although Carolina’s offensive line was one of the best in the league, ranking 22nd in most sacks allowed (33). Last week, Tom Brady took an absolute beating by that Denver d-line, as he was hit 20 times (the most times a quarterback’s been hit all year), and sacked four times. Next week’ll be a tough challenge for Carolina’s o-line, especially left-tackle Michael Oher, who, despite his success in pass blocking this year, struggled vs. run blocking.

10 Fun Facts

01. This year’s the first Super Bowl match-up between quarterbacks who were both drafted number-one overall (Manning in ’98, Newton in 2011)

02. This will be the first Super Bowl ever that had two players that were drafted number one and number two overall both in the same draft (Cam Newton and Von Miller in 2011)

03. It’s the largest age gap in history between the starting two quarterbacks, at 13 years and 48 days (Manning will turn 40, and Newton 27, respectively, this upcoming off-season). The previous record occurred two-years ago between Manning and Seattle’s Russell Wilson. The age gap in that game was 12 years and 250 days.

04. Since the start of 2011, and including the playoffs, Cam Newton has rushed 648 times for 3,383 yards and 45 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Peyton Manning has rushed 94 times for -48 yards and one touchdown in that same span (ESPN). 

05. Broncos’ head coach Gary Kubiak becomes the first coach in NFL history to appear in two Super Bowls, as a player and a coach, with the same franchise (’87-88, ’90, and 2016).

06. With a win, the Broncos would become the ninth NFL team to win at least three Super Bowls.

07. Peyton Manning’s the first quarterback in NFL history to take multiple teams to multiple Super Bowls (’07 and 2010 with Indianapolis, as well as 2014 and 2016 with Denver).

08. Only two players are active in the NFL from the Panthers’ team that made the ’04 Super Bowl; OLB Julius Peppers (Green Bay) and wideout Steve Smith, Sr. (Baltimore).

09. Carolina’s attempting to become just the fourth team in NFL history to win 18 games in a single season (regular season + postseason). The three teams that have done it so far are the ’84 49ers, the ’85 Bears, and the ’07 Pats.

10. Carolina head coach Ron Rivera was the defensive coordinator for the ’06-07 Bears who made it to Super Bowl XLI, before losing to Peyton Manning’s Colts, 29-17.

Entertainment/Broadcast Info

British band Coldplay will handle the halftime show, as they’ll be accompanied by R&B singer Beyonce Knowles and pop singer Bruno Mars. CBS will handle the broadcast, which will start at 6:30, with Jim Nantz doing play-by-play, Phil Simms providing color commentary, and Tracy Wolfson and Evan Washburn providing sideline reports. Eight-year referee Clete Blakeman will be officiating it. This will be the first Super Bowl held at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, since the 49ers moved there in 2014.


Carolina’s currently six-point favorites, per Bovada. The over/under’s set at 45 1/2

My prediction

Despite how amazing Carolina’s been this year, and how fantastic their team effort all year long has been, my gut tells me Peyton Manning does just enough to win his final game and go out on top. I think Carolina has a ton of success, both in the regular season and postseason, for years to come, however I think Denver’s playoff experience is valuable.

Score- Denver 28-23 

Super Bowl MVP Prediction-  Von Miller, Denver outside linebacker

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