Jazz: In the final weekend of the playoff section of our annual competition I finally accomplished what I never did throughout the entire regular season. By managing to get one of the games right (thanks, Broncos!) I pulled even with Ed at a 5-5 record. So we’re all tied going into the final, bright shiny game. (6:30 pm, CBS) Of course, as soon as I began pondering the prospects of the two teams I developed a sneaking suspicion that Ed and I would pick the same result. But who knows? Perhaps not. And even if things go against me, we’ve got Cold Play and Beyonce doing the halftime show, so that’s, er… something, I guess? Seriously, people. Who the heck decided Cold Play was a good idea? But I’m not going to let it bother me. I’ll be ordering a two foot long capacolla and provolone sub with lettuce, tomatoes and banana peppers for the big game and eating myself into a coma. SPORT!
Ed: It all comes down to the last game, right? And this matchup really does put the NFL’s best on the field for the championship. I asked this question on Twitter the other day: when was the last time both #1 seeds ended up in the Super Bowl? It was actually last year, and that turned out to be a heck of a game. Three of the last six Super Bowls have had the top two teams of the season. And this game has some extra added resonance, thanks to the two quarterbacks who will start. One is the future of the league, exuberant and fearless; the other is at the end of a storied career, a field general who changed the way the position is played. Put together a matchup between Denver’s #1 defense and Carolina’s top-scoring offense, and Super Bowl 50 shapes up as an epic battle — perhaps one for the ages.
Jazz: I put this off as long as I could. I’ve analyzed the expert opinions on the subject. I’ve studied the injury reports and the stats. There’s really only one conclusion to draw from all of this. These are two excellent defenses, but one really good offense against one excellent offense. The Broncos simply don’t have the ground game to match up against Carolina’s front line, and for that matter, as much as we may love Manning, some of the speed and accuracy has worn off his passing arm after all these years. On top of that, Carolina has quite the ball hawking defense combined with a tough pass rush which will make him miserable all night. Cam Newton not only has a rocket for an arm, but if he’s under pressure he can run like a monster rushing back. If the Broncos held the Panthers to less than 100 yards on the ground they would be the first team to do so all season. So with all that said, why am I picking the Broncos to win 23-20? Because I’m a sucker for a feel good story and Manning has one more miracle left in him before he retires.
Ed: I’ll be honest — I’m rooting for Denver and Peyton Manning. I’d love to see him get one more ring before retiring, and his exit from the game is almost here. Denver has a great defense, and they should make it tough on Cam Newton. However, Carolina has a pretty good defense, too; they only gave up 0.8 points a game more than Denver’s D did in the regular season. On offense, Carolina scores more than eight points a game more than Denver. They get far ahead of their opponents and then tend to coast, but the Panthers managed to solve that problem two weeks ago against the Arizona Cardinals in their NFC Championship blowout. If great defenses win championships, both teams have them — and the Panthers have Newton and an explosive offense. And as much as I’d love to see Manning get a ring, I sure wouldn’t mind seeing Newton end up with one to finish up his storybook MVP season. I’ll pick the Panthers to win it 31-24, and for all of us to have a great time watching Super Bowl 50.