NFL Pick ‘Ems (Super Bowl 50)

DEN @ CAR (SB50)

I have a bit of a confession to make:

I was never really “done” with the NFL. I didn’t watch the games… but I still kept up with scores, stats, and noteworthy news and what-not. But I didn’t watch any games! That counts for something, r-right? Yeah. Totally.

I watched the AFC/NFC Championship Games.

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Well, what’s done is done. I will happily indulge in Super Bowl 50 with no regrets. Putting aside my Brett Favre-ish sense of guilt, let’s talk about the match-up.

The Denver Broncos are not the offensive juggernaut they were the last two years. They are now a team being carried almost completely by their defense. It is because of this defense that Denver gets so many chances on offense to score some points, which they took advantage of against New England two weeks ago. I was impressed with how Denver’s offense played during the first half of that game, but then they scored a measly three points after halftime. That is not something you want to do against the top scoring offense of the Carolina Panthers.

Speaking of the Panthers, they’ve looked completely dominant with their last two playoff games. Jumping ahead by, what, 24 points before Seattle scored anything? And then they completely obliterated Arizona in what may have been the most one-sided NFC Championship I’ve ever seen. I knew they looked good in the regular season with an easy schedule, but they just destroyed two back-to-back good (albeit inconsistent) teams with decent defenses. Denver’s #1 defense will be the ultimate test, however.

For me, this almost seems like the make-up for a repeat of Super Bowl XLVIII, only Denver doesn’t have the #1 scoring offense of all time and a better defense. While I don’t think the game will be a blowout, I think there could be a good chance that it might. Carolina has looked way too good all year and every time I feel they’ve met their match, they blow them out of the water. The only real weakness I see in Carolina is their secondary, which won’t be much of a problem because Peyton Manning has been putrid throwing the ball all year. Carolina is loaded on pretty much every other position. All they need to do is play a clean game and they’ve pretty much won it.

Who knows, though? I’ve said the same thing about Denver. I keep thinking they’ll lose against better teams and they keep on winning. I would’ve bet my house that New England would’ve destroyed them in the AFC Championship game, but they pulled out of that one despite a second-half nap by their offense. It’s an intriguing match-up of “Who’s defense is better?” I feel Denver’s defense is more preventive of points, but Carolina’s defense is all around stable.

I think the key factor in this game is Cam Newton. Will he be able to handle the pressure of Denver’s pass rush and their tight secondary? Will he take advantage of his legs and will Denver’s defense allow him to run ’em over? If he continuously turns the ball over, it’s Peyton’s game. Otherwise, I think Carolina has the better chance here.

Winner: Carolina

Quick Pick: Denver at Kansas City (Week Two; 2015)

If this were any time other than now time, I would be picking Denver in this match-up. Now, I’m uncertain. Peyton Manning didn’t look good in the preseason and didn’t look good in the first game of the regular season. Not to mention, Kansas City’s defense is kind of really, really good. Denver’s defense also showed last week that it was really, really good, so it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

This being said, I believe offense will be the deciding factor. It will most likely be a defensive game, probably no more than 20 or so points scored by either team, with a lot of sacks and a few turnovers. The team that ends up with the most points off turnovers will most likely come out on top. Unlike the Dallas game last Sunday, neither of these team’s defenses will allow what New York’s defense allowed.

I think Travis Kelce will be another deciding factor in this game. If he gets it going, he gives Kansas City a better chance to win, as Denver’s corners won’t likely give Jeremy Maclin any room to make plays. These two teams are pretty evenly matched in almost every regard, which makes this pick almost like flipping a coin. As I stated above, if this were 2012, 2013, or 2014, I’d be picking Denver every time. But now Manning’s starting to decline, and Kansas City is starting to rise.

Maybe Manning will prove me wrong tonight?

Winner: Kansas City