The Panthers are favorite to win the Super Bowl by 6 points

By on February 5, 2016

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Many people have looked at this Super Bowl as Peyton Manning’s last stand. His chance to ride off into the sunset and do something only one other quarterback has done; win the Super Bowl in their very last game. That other quarterback…John Elway.

Unfortunately for Manning and the Broncos, this quest to send Peyton out the winner, in what could and should be his last game, will not be easy. The Panthers are a big favorite.

The Panthers are by far the best team the Broncos will have faced this whole season.

Cam Newton and Mike Shula have transformed the Panthers offense into one of the most dominant offenses in the NFL this season and Newton has become a transcendent player.

The Panthers lead the league in scoring this season averaging 31.3 points per game and were the only team in the NFL to score over 500 points this season. They have perfected the zone/read option running the designed play out of the shotgun 265 times this season for 1,556 yards or 5.87 yards per play, which ranked third in the NFL. The Panthers also had 18 touchdown drives of five plays or less with an average scoring drive of 69.6 yards.  The Panthers can put up points, are they going to be able to against the Bronco defense. 

Cam Newton has taken this offense and put it on his shoulders.

The Heisman Trophy winner and former number one pick scored 45 touchdowns this season, helping the Panthers finish the season with the number one ranked offense in the NFL. Newton is a true multidimensional quarterback having passed for 3837 yards and rushed for another 636. He can extend plays with his legs and force the opposing team to deviate from coverage allowing his two favorite targets, Ted Ginn Jr. and Greg Olsen, to get open.

The Broncos defense, however, is not to be taken lightly. Led by the dynamic edge rushing duo of Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, the Broncos led the NFL in defense this season allowing a league low 3.3 yards rushing per game and 18.5 points per game. The regular season success has carried over to the playoffs where the Broncos have limited opponents to 64.5 rushing yards per game. The defense was on full display in the AFC Championship game, where Miller and Ware sacked Patriots QB Tom Brady three times and helped the Broncos set a season high 20 knockdowns.

The Broncos defense does have a weakness…The zone/read option and the Broncos offense.

In his three seasons as the Houston Texans defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips faced the zone/read 26 times. The Broncos, as team in 2015, faced the zone/read 14 times.

Unfortunately for the Broncos, despite all the success this defense has had, the offense has been their Achilles heel. The inexperience against the zone/read as well a very dynamic Panthers offense will be too much for the Broncos defense.

Panthers 38, Broncos 17…Panthers join the 1985 Chicago Bears as the only teams to win the Super Bowl and finish the season with one loss.

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