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Super Bowl 50

Pick

Panthers

vs.

Broncos

2/7/16

The Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos will hook up on Sunday February 7th for Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium. Kickoff is 6:30 pm est. and the current line at betonline is Carolina -5.5 while 5 dimes sportsbook has the Panthers at -6. The total at both sportsbooks is 45.

We'll start off this prediction by telling you that this play, for us, has more to do with our opinion based on watching both teams this year, rather than any solid stats or trends. In fact, we'll get right down to it and show you how our model sees this game. Just a warning though, the model will be of no help here.

When using data from the entire season, our model says Panthers 24 Broncos 21. When using data from the last 7 games only, the model says Panthers 26 Broncos 21. Lastly, when using only data from the last 4 games, the model says Panthers 25 Broncos 19.

So, the model likes the Panthers to win the game. Barely. Right on the number, both the side and total. Certainly no edge to be had when using the models predictions.

Another stat you'll notice we refer to all the time is yards per point. Well, the Panthers have the yards per point numbers of a Super Bowl team, but the Broncos don't. On offense, the Panthers ypp number of 11.7 was good for #1 in the NFL while their defensive number of 16.8 was good for 9th overall.

The Broncos defensive yards per point number of 15.3 places them 18th overall in the NFL and their offensive number of 16 places them 20th. Not the numbers of a Super Bowl team for sure. In fact, those are the numbers of a team we wouldn't even expect to have made the playoffs.

Of course, yards per point numbers can be deceiving at times. We all know the Broncos have a great defense. We all watched them bang around Brady in the AFC Championship game. We've all heard the saying "defense wins championships". But what most are overlooking is the fact that the Panthers actually have a pretty good damn defense too!

In points allowed, the Broncos were 4th overall at 18.5. The Panthers were 6th at 19.3. Yards allowed per game, the Broncos were #1 at 283 while the Panthers were 6th at 323. Rushing yards allowed Broncos #3 with 83.6 yards per game on the ground while the Panthers were #4 with 88.4 yards per game. Thru the air, the Broncos defense was #1, allowing 200 yards per game on average while the Panthers were 11th with 234 allowed.

So, yeah, both teams can play some defense. But it's the offense that has to go up against those solid D's that will likely determine the outcome Sunday. If someone were to show you only the stats of the two QB's in this game, without telling you WHO they were, you would come to the conclusion that it was a QB mismatch. In fact, Manning had one of the worst seasons ever for a QB that will start in the Super Bowl!

For the Broncos to win, they need Manning to simply manage the game, not make mistakes and allow that defense to win the field position battle. But we don't think it will play out that way. The more likely scenario would be for the leagues highest scoring offense to jump out in front early, forcing Manning to do something we simply don't think he can do. That is, put the team on his back like the Manning of old and gun sling his way to victory. Not this version of Manning and not against this Panthers defense.

Oh, by the way, the Panthers were #1 in turnover differential at +20 while the Broncos were the only playoff team in negative territory at -4 in turnover differential.

The Panthers have been a team on a mission this year. The two playoff games have hammered that home even further. Sure, the final against the Seahawks makes the game look close. Sure, some will say they almost blew it and allowed Seattle to come back like that. But we look at something else. We look at 31-0 in the first half. That's the real story in that game. Followed up with a 49-14 dismantling of the Cardinals in the NFC Championship game. In our eyes, those are the results of an eventual Super Bowl Champion.

The Panthers have the better QB in this game and man for man, across the board on both sides of the ball, are the better team. Their defense is just about as good as the Broncos and their offense is much,, much more dangerous.

Peyton Manning going out on top as a Super Bowl Champion, like John Elway did, would be a great story. But this is the Panthers and Cam Newton's time to shine. They earned it week in and week out this year and -should put the exclamation point on their season on Super Bowl Sunday with a double digit win. Panthers -5.5. Let's call it  38-17

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