Justin Guglielmetti: Some fans subscribe to the idea of rooting for the team that beat your own because it makes your own team look more impressive having lost to the best. I can sometimes get behind this; when TU’s basketball team beat Wichita State early in the season I was hoping WSU would go undefeated the rest of the way. But in the playoffs, when rankings no longer exist to make your team look good, when all that matters is whether you’re in or out, all of that goes out the window. When the Denver Broncos beat my New England Patriots last week behind the play of their dominant pass rush (I’m not giving Peyton Manning any of the credit), they ensured my support of Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl. This is a matchup of two defensive juggernauts but ultimately Cam’s playmaking and Peyton’s inevitable choking will make the difference in Super Bowl 50.
Carolina 24 – Denver 13
Matt Rechtien: The Carolina Panthers have been playing with a chip on their shoulder all season, being called the worst team to be undefeated every week throughout the regular season. Critics were quick to point out that their record was simply the product of an easy regular season schedule. The Panthers ran with this chip all season and responded with the best points-per-game average in the NFL, primarily because of probable MVP Cam Newton. After dismantling the Arizona Cardinals, who were widely considered the second best team in the league, I predict they will carry that momentum into the big show. While I do think that Denver’s top-rated defense will slow down Carolina’s offense, Peyton Manning will not be able to keep up.
Carolina 28 – Denver 14
Joseph Edmunds: When looking at this year’s Super Bowl matchup, many fans will be hesitant to predict a Broncos victory with the painful, blowout loss to the Seahawks two years ago still relatively fresh in their memories. The team this year is nearly the reverse of the team two years ago; the current team is orchestrated around the defense. The number one defense in the league has a lot of momentum, as they forced Tom Brady to play most of the AFC Championship game from the ground. I’m looking forward to seeing Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware chase Cam Newton around the field. The Panthers offense relies too much on Cam, and he doesn’t have enough support players that can step up in the clutch, which will be the Panthers downfall.
Denver 21 – Carolina 17
Wade Crawford: The Carolina Panthers surprised everyone during the regular season, going from mediocre preseason predictions to being the top seed in the NFC, due to MVP-caliber play by Cam Newton and an incredibly tough defensive unit. Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos overcame some quarterback issues (who would’ve thought that would be a headline?) and relied on a strong defense of their own to get to the Super Bowl. The Broncos defense is riding high after dismantling the Patriots offensive line, yet the Panthers have a better offensive line and the scrambling abilities of Cam Newton. Based on the AFC title game, the Panthers may try and utilize Greg Olsen, as Denver had trouble stopping Gronkowski. However, Olsen is no Gronk, and the Broncos will walk away with the Super Bowl trophy.
Denver 28 – Carolina 24
Mason Morgan: Usually the Super Bowl is not kind to heavy favorites. Many people, including Vegas, believe that Carolina should handle Denver easily. The current line is hovering around five points for the Panthers. Every player will hear during media week about what should happen and that stuff never usually happens. Just like the Buffalo Bills against the Giants in Super Bowl 25 and the St. Louis Rams against the Patriots in Super 36, the overly cocky team ends up having some issues. Denver has an awesome defense, an incredible kicker, and Peyton can move the ball in warm weather as long as he doesn’t throw near Josh Norman. Carolina could still definitely win, but I think it will be closer than the gamblers think.
Denver 26 – Carolina 24
Gregory Diskin: I think this Super Bowl will be a lot closer than everyone thinks. Denver’s defense is one of the most extraordinary defenses I’ve ever seen and it’s going up a great offense in Carolina. In the end, I think that Carolina’s defense will be able to stop Denver and Peyton Manning more than Denver will be able to stop Cam Newton. I’m predicting a loss in Peyton Manning’s last game as a player as he slowly transitions into being a great coach somewhere in this league.
Carolina 30 – Denver 17