One thing is for sure, the 4 teams that have been atop the rankings all year, are now fighting for the right to play in the big game. I was going to show season stats, etc. on all four teams, however, after so many weeks of football, none of that matters going into these games. What New England did in Denver weeks ago has no bearing at all. Just take a look at the Packers last week, they almost reversed a 38-8 seasonal beating. The defending champs are still here, but their opponents of a year ago are gone. We will have at least one new team in the final.
Cardinals @ Panthers
This is the real Super Bowl, played two week too early. These two teams have been the best in football since week 1. Panthers even flirted with a perfect season. The game will feature two very well coached teams, with dominating defenses. Their differences lie on offense, where one team is a grinder, the other opportunistically attacks at will.
The Cardinals march into town after escaping a big come back form Aaron Rodgers and his new weapon, the Hail Mary. Most of us expected a more convincing victory from them, but a win is a win regardless of score. In order for things to work well, the Cardinals have to be able to run the ball well. Everything else Carson does with his array of WRs feeds off of the ability to run it. If they can do that? They score like no other team in the NFL can.
The Panthers won last week by the end of the first half, and played the remainder of that game letting the Seahawks try to make a come back. It almost backfired, but again, a win is a win, and the Panthers looked downright scary in that first half. In order for this team to beat you they too must be able to run before passing. Their runs can come from Stewart, CAP, Tolbert and a lot from Cam Newton. Eventually Cam finds his TE, and they score as much as is needed to win.
This game will not be close, although the final score may show that it was. The Panthers have regularly blown out teams early, only to let them back in at the end, but keep surviving. This game will be no different. Cam Newton will continue his MVP season and lead the Panthers to a nice comfortable league that carries into the third quarter. The Panthers will be able to run well against the blitz happy Cardinals. On the other hand, I do not think the Cardinals will be able run the football efficiently, and they will throw a lot more than they are accustomed to. The Panthers Defense is solid. Carson Palmer has had a great season, but he will come up short…..Panthers 27-23
Patriots @ Broncos
This is an interesting game, it features the two most acclaimed QBs of our generation. Both teams have injuries and both struggled down the stretch of the regular season. Manning wasn’t even the starting QB when the Broncos were fighting for this top spot. Brady seems to have his weapons back, this game will give us a lot of reasons to stay glued to the television.
The Patriots’ biggest asset coming in is that julian Edelman is playing for the second week in a row, and his presence is why this team has a shot at returning to the Super Bowl. In order for the Patriots to do well, Tom has to get rid of the ball quickly, especially playing with a patched up, below par OL. Edelman is key to that game plan. If that works well, everything else falls into place. This team comes into Denver fired up.
The Broncos are not the scoring machine we have become accustomed to. Seems strange, but it’s a team that relies more on their defense to keep them in games, than its pedestrian offense. A lot of this transition has to do with the aging Peyton Manning, but I also think that the coaching philosophy changed. They now stifle teams into ugly lower scoring games. In order for the offense to work, they must be able to protect the QB well, and get good runs from CJ Anderson.
I think the over/under for this game was around 44-45, two years ago it would have been at least 10 points higher. Even Vegas expects the score to be low. I agree totally, and I doubt they reach 44 points, even with over time. The teams will play a hard fought defensive game and not many TDs will be scored. Both teams have good kickers, and the altitude will allow them to kick more FGs rather than go for it. Somehow I see this thing ending in a tie after regulation, adding more drama to what more than likely is the last time these two Quarterbacks face each other, in this kind of game. After a 19-19 regulation time result, the Pats will win in OT, Patriots 22-19
Question to CK
If the Broncos do win (I know, its blasphemy), but lets say they do, and they play the Super Bowl against the Panthers, who do you root for? I mean one has a QB that you have hated forever, the other a QB that you totally hate now?…………If this was the scenario, I fully expect a Super Bowl Sunday filled with lots of Curry infected Indian food and alcohol