Photo Credit: ESPN
It’s finally here! It’s weird how round numbers or even numbers seem to invoke excitement above and beyond the norm. But I think I’d be doing it injustice if I didn’t talk about the fact that we are at the 50th Super Bowl! We’ve had crazy moments so far, Scott Norwood’s wide right, Malcolm Butler’s interception, the Giants ruining perfection, the ’72 Dolphins achieving perfection, John Elway’s helicopter, Kevin Dyson coming up a yard short, Namath’s guarantee, Vinatieri’s game winning FG, Montana’s game winning drive, and the Bills’ 4 losses in a row. To name a few….We’ve had 50 amazing years, which tend to culminate in some of the best games of the season with everything on the line. There’s a reason this day is like Christmas for me, and I can’t wait to witness the next 50!
Super Bowl Stats:
- In 49 Super Bowls, we have yet to see an OT game. There were 21 OT games in 2015, meaning about 12% of games go into OT.
- The 13 year old age difference between Manning and Newton is the largest ever in Super Bowl history
- The 3 oldest QB’s to start a Super Bowl are Peyton Manning (39), John Elway (38) and Peyton Manning (37)
- Manning is the only QB to make the Super Bowl multiple times with multiple teams
- This is the first Super Bowl where both QB’s were drafted #1 overall.
- This is the 3rd straight year that the #1 seeds have made the super bowl
- If the Panthers win the Super Bowl, they’ll be the 4th team to win 18 games in a season
- Manning is 1st NFL player to go to the Super Bowl with 4 different coaches
- Teams that lead the league in defense are 9-2 in Super Bowls
- John Fox got fired as the Carolina Panthers’ head coach in 2010, and was replaced by current coach Ron Rivera. John Fox then got fired as the Denver Broncos’ head coach in 2014, only to be replaced by current coach Gary Kubiak. John Fox coached both teams to a Super Bowl.
- Peyton Manning was drafted 3 months after John Elway’s last game. Manning now has a chance to end his career the same way Elway did
- The 2011 NFL Draft showed both of these teams as the worst in football. Carolina had the #1 overall pick, which they used on Cam Newton. Denver had the #2 overall pick, which was on Von Miller. Both are arguably the best at their positions right now. This also gives hope to a lot of franchises, and show you can go from worst to first in a mere 5 years.
- It’s interesting to look at the “business” side of both of these teams. John Elway and the Broncos aren’t afraid to make tough business decisions to make a championship. Since 2011, Elway has fired 2 coaches, threw Tim Tebow under the bus to get Peyton, nearly threw Peyton under the bus last season, traded away Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Overall making bold moves to make it here. The Panthers on the other hand have been patient. 3 of the 5 seasons under Rivera and Cam Newton have been sub-.500. This is typically a fireable offense (sometimes after the first or second). But Owner Jerry Richardson is a patient guy, a league guy really. He trusted in the system and the coach, and now they’re at the pinnacle.
- The Broncos have gone to 8 Super Bowls in their existence, 7 of the Super Bowls were led by Quarterbacks drafted by the Colts (Elway 5, Manning 2). One could also argue that John Elway has led the team to 7 of their 8 Super Bowls; Five as QB and 2 as VP of Football Operations.
- The Broncos reinvented themselves very quickly, going from the #1 offense 2 years ago, to the #1 defense this year.
A Moment of Silence:
When I was still in high school, probably about the time of Super Bowl 38 (a.k.a a long ass time ago), I told myself that I would go to Super Bowl 50. My prediction was that they would have played the game in New York, the biggest stage. That was years before they had a stadium deal even in place; I was 2 years off. I have renewed my vows to go to the big game at somepoint in my life. Need to start saving now!
Old School Football:
In the everchanging times of the NFL, it’s hard to hold onto the thought that a strong run game and defense still wins you championships. So it’s interesting to see that Super Bowl 50 is going back to their roots with 2 teams who focus on running the ball and on defense. With QB’s throwing for 5500 yards, or 55 TD’s in a season, one would think that if they put up a 400 yard 4 TD game, they’ve won it. But think back 2 years ago when this exact scenario came into place. It was the #1 offense of all time led by Peyton Manning, versus Marshawn Lynch and the #1 defense in the league. Most people had Seattle getting crushed in that game. Instead the defensive team won 43-8. Testing your memory hear, but 3 other games really stand out on this accord. The Buccaneers vs. Raiders game in 2003 pitted Rich Gannon’s MVP and record breaking season against a defense that literally invented a scheme; the Tampa 2. Once again, Defense prevailed, winning 48-21 (and that’s actually closer than it should have been). In 2007, Brady threw a then record 50 TD passes, and his high flying offense with Randy Moss went into the Super Bowl 18-0, only to be held to a mere 14 points. Finally, in 2001, the high powered Giants faced off against the mediocre Trent Dilfer but the staggering Ravens defense. Same outcome. A blowout by the defensive team, 34-7. The only points the Giants scored was on a kickoff return. As hard as it is to picture, as hard as it is to think that Manning’s weak arm can lead this team to victory over the should-be-undefeated Panthers. That is my prediction for this game. Because it won’t be Manning’s arm, it will be the Broncos defense holding Cam Newton in check. The only difference between all of those other games, is the Panthers top offense also comes along with a dang good defense: #6 in the league. That may be enough to keep the Broncos run game from getting any traction. Although it’s hard to believe that Jared Allen’s broken foot and Thomas Davis’ broken arm will make them 100%. I’m still not convinced that the Panthers wide receiver corps is strong enough to win a Super Bowl (yes, you could say that about the Seahawks too). So the question will be whether Denver can stop the running attack from Cam Newton and Jonathon Stewart. But I think defense still prevails (just not the blowout like other games), Manning goes out on top, and all is right in the world. Final score: Denver 24, Carolina 20.
Going out on Top:
Teams seem to play better for coaches and players that announce retirements. In fact, I can’t remember an instance where that team has lost the Super Bowl. The last 3 players to announce their retirement (Ray Lewis, Jerome Bettis, and John Elway) each won the Super Bowl. These were all “team” guys, and it almost seemed to rally the team even more, as if winning the Super Bowl isn’t enough motivation. I would put a 95% chance that Peyton Manning retires after this season, win or lose. I think if he wins the Super Bowl, it’s 99.9% he retires. Only a loss would motivate him to give it one more shot. Let’s win one for one of the best QB’s of all time.