Broncos and Panthers meet in Manning’s last chance



Super Bowl 50. (National Football League)

KEVIN DEITRICK, Sports Columnist

The opponents for Super Bowl 50 have been set, with the Denver Broncos winning a close one against New England and Carolina destroying Arizona.

Today, I want to talk about how these teams got this far, and how well they will do in the big game.

First, let’s start with the Broncos. It truly has been a crazy year. Peyton Manning was disappointing for the first part of the year before getting injured, and they still make the Super Bowl! Well, the team got out to a fast start.

Thanks to their amazing defense, they started the year 7-0. During that stretch, their defense only gave up 16 points per game. In week 10 against the Chiefs, Manning threw four interceptions before Brock Osweiler took over.

Through the first nine games, Denver was 7-2, which is pretty good. Manning on the other hand? Bad. Just. . . bad.

In those nine games he threw for nine touchdown passes against 17 interceptions. But we learned that Manning had been dealing with foot and rib injuries.

With a new quarterback at the helm, the Broncos bounced back to a three-game winning streak against the Bears, the Patriots and the Chargers by a combined score of 54-42. In that three game span, Osweiler threw for a total of 686 passing yards, four passing touchdowns and two interceptions.

During the final four games of the season, the Broncos went 2-2. In the final game against San Diego, Osweiler struggled and was benched for Manning. The Broncos went on to win 27-20 thanks to a great rushing attack by C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman, who rushed for a combined 212 yards and two touchdowns.

With Peyton back, the Broncos entered the playoffs, 12-4. To make the Super Bowl, they had to get by the Steelers in the divisional round, and the big bad Patriots. The saying is true, you know: “Offense wins games, defense wins championships.” But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

After taking care of business against Pittsburgh, winning 23-16, they had New England right in front of them. If Manning wanted to go out a champion, he had to find a way to win against the Patriots. Fans of defense would have enjoyed this game.

The Broncos’ defense was phenomenal. They held the future hall of famer Tom Brady to 48 completion percentage and two interceptions. The defense went clutch to deny New England a two-point conversion to win it, 20-18.

With Peyton having a down year full of injuries and old age, he still led them to a Super Bowl. Please, just put him in the Hall of Fame now.

Now that we know how the Broncos got to where they are, let’s take a look at the Panthers.

Carolina, led by star quarterback Cam Newton, had an awesome year. Overall, the Panthers were pretty much dominant, going 15-1, with the one loss coming from the Atlanta Falcons.

Newton made a huge leap forward this year as the league’s best dual-threat quarterback. He finished the year with 3,837 passing yards, 35 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. That’s only half of his game. Newton also rushed for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns.

People had some doubts that Newton could do it, especially since his number one receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, is out for the year from injury. Carolina came through, went 15-1 and is the number one seed in the playoffs.

After beating the Seahawks, 31-24, and destroying the Cardinals, 49-15, the Panthers are looking to beat the Broncos to win the Super Bowl. Sorry, David Johnson.

Super Bowl 50 is a battle of young vs. old, a legend in the making vs. the man, the myth, the legend. This Super Bowl looks like one for the ages.

On one side, you want Manning to go out like John Elway, a champion. But on the other hand, you would like to see Newton and Carolina win a championship, because they truly deserve it.

I’ve always been fond of both teams. Growing up, my family members were Broncos fans, but I’ve always liked the Panthers. So, as you can see, I’m torn.

Either team I choose I feel like I’m going against my childhood. It should be an awesome game, and I predict that the Panthers will win a close one. Manning is going to have to try again next year or be an analyst on ESPN.