The Super Bowl is the most excessive major sporting event of the year. Nothing holds a candle to it. Nobody calls for a national holiday after the NBA Finals. Nobody gets excited for the commercials during the World Series. The Super Bowl is a tribute to itself almost as much as it is the final game of the greatest sport our nation has. And this is the 50th one. A half century has led to this game, years of hype, months of preparation, and dozens of mistakes (a Coldplay halftime show? Really? That’s who they choose for the 50th Super Bowl?). There is so much about the Super Bowl that isn’t even about the actual game. Which is actually a good thing. Because the game is probably going to suck.
Maybe “suck” is the wrong term to use, but if you want to see a crazy, high scoring fun-fest, this game is not going to deliver. It has all the makings of a boring defensive struggle, which is really only interesting to football nerds and old people who drone on about how the league doesn’t let anyone play football anymore.
This game is going to have one of three outcomes:
1. The Panthers blow out the Broncos
2. The Panthers barely beat the Broncos in a low-scoring physical game
3. The Broncos barely beat the Panthers in a low-scoring physical game
A casual glance points toward outcome No. 1, which is probably what most people are expecting. The Panthers are the NFL’s most complete team and only lost one bizarre game against the Falcons the entire season. They’ve had some issues letting teams make comebacks, but they’ve still won those games.
The Broncos, on the other hand, are not a complete team. The defense is stellar, the offense borderline putrid. Most casual fans still see the Broncos as a worse version of the team that got blown out two years ago. But this is not the same Broncos team as 2013. This is an incredibly stout defense that is not getting nearly enough credit for what it has managed to do, and anyone who assumes Cam, Ted Ginn, and Greg Olson are just going to run rampant on this unit are not paying attention to the Broncos.
Smart money is on the No. 2 outcome. If you’ve got some money to spare, I’d even risk putting it on No. 3. How many times have we gone into a Super Bowl in love with the offensive team and had the defensive team win? Most people assumed the Broncos would blow up Seattle three years ago. Most people assumed the Patriots would murder the Giants in 2007. Many doubted the New England Patriots could ever defeat the Greatest Show on Turf. Whenever a team gets overlooked as much as this Broncos team is being, that team rises to the challenge. The pressure is on the Panthers right now. Many already feel they’ve won. By all possible metrics, they should win. That’s what makes the Broncos dangerous. They have more to prove. You can’t quantify or measure that sort of motivation.
So my prediction is this: The Panthers win, barely. Neither team scores over 25 points. There are major turnovers on both sides. Cam is mostly neutralized and the Panthers defense wins the game. Carolina should win, it’s the better team. Just don’t be shocked if the Broncos pull it out.
It’s all led up to this, and you can see the entire series of cartoons made this season right here:
WEEK 1 | WEEK 2 | WEEK 3 | WEEK 4 | WEEK 5 | WEEK 6 | WEEK 7 | WEEK 8 | WEEK 9 | WEEK 10 | WEEK 11 | WEEK 12 | WEEK 13 | WEEK 14 | WEEK 15 | WEEK 16 | WEEK 17 | Wild Card Week | Divisional Round | Championship Round
So now, after a whole season, will you ride with me one last time?
If the Broncos win Super Bowl 50, I will draw The Sheriff Peyton Manning riding off into the sunset on Von Miller
If the Panthers win Super Bowl 50, I will draw Cam Newton as King of the League, Dabbing on his throne
And of course, promised last week, my Pro Bowl picture:
(That flag is the state flag of Hawaii, by the way, in case you are confused.)