The combatants are rested and prepared. The point spread has stabilized. And as Super Sunday breaches, the final answer to the outcome of Super Bowl 50 is just words away, especially if you believe the opinions of SFBay staff.
Shawn Whelchel, SFBay 49ers beat writer
It’s going to be a defensive matchup through and through, but Carolina’s offense — mainly because of Cam Newton — has a better chance of breaking the opposing defense.
Peyton Manning looked solid against New England, but with his age and with shaky regular season, there’s no real guarantee of a repeat performance.
Cam has used his athleticism and his play to build an MVP caliber season from start to finish, and I feel like he carries that into the Super Bowl to give his team the edge.
I expect the Denver pass rush to still be disruptive, but there’s no way they get to Newton as much as they did with Brady, and that proved to be the difference in the AFC title game.
Shayna Rubin, SFBay Giants beat writer
It’ll be a defensive tug of war, but an electric Cam Newton and the Panthers’ underestimated offensive line will pull Carolina to the winning side.
Kalama Hines, SFBay sportswriter
The Panthers, and it won’t be close.
The two defenses are comparable, but the Broncos’ offense isn’t in Carolina’s league. The closest thing Denver has faced to Cam is Andrew Luck. He beat them. Gonna be SB 48.2.
Sergio Portela, SFBay sportswriter
Denver Broncos. It’ll be a tight defensive battle, but Denver’s front seven and secondary will be too much for Carolina’s offense to handle. The Broncos defense will create turnovers to put Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ offense in scoring position.
Jesse Garnier, SFBay editor
Carolina Panthers, 31-13. As sentimental as a final Super Bowl victory for Peyton Manning might be, it won’t happen. The baton has been passed. The guard has changed. Denver stumbled into the playoffs. Carolina steamrolled to the NFL’s best record. Cam Newton is the best quarterback in football and will prove it at Super Bowl 50. Manning won’t finish the game, and neither will Cam. Derek Anderson will serve as a human Cubano, a victory cigar heralding the birth of one legend — and the ascent of another into the NFL Hall of Fame.
Jason Leskiw, SFBay sports director
Denver by a mistake made by Carolina, and the star being another unknown player.
The notion that Denver’s offense isn’t up to snuff, to me, is just silly. It’s essentially the same offense that was scoring at historic rates for the last two years.
There has been some changes in scheme, but in my opinion, that just makes them more dangerous. And the book on Carolina is out. They refuse to acknowledge it, but I think they know it deep down.
Carolina’s record is indicative of a bad division and some lucky breaks more than a nearly undefeated team that will blow out Peyton Manning in what could be his final game.
Hats off to the Panthers, I don’t mean to take anything away from what they have accomplished. But I don’t see them matching with the Broncos here on many individual levels, and definitely not collectively.
Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.