Superbowl 50: The common denominator

With Super Bowl 50 looming, the last two teams standing remain hopeful that their 53 guys are better than the other 53 guys on Super Sunday. For argument sake lets reduce these numbers down to a common denominator — the two opposing quarterbacks.

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On one side of the NFL compass comes the team from the east. This side is led by a youthful and brash Quarterback who has galvanized his teammates into thinking they are invincible. Tasting defeat only one time in their last 18 games, the Carolina unit is nearly that — INVINCIBLE. They take the field with a swagger, they tackle in the open field with amazing consistency and they score points , mostly touchdowns , when inside the red zone.

The other team comes from the west — the “ left “  side of the compass. This side is directed by an aging and experienced quarterback who has commandeered his teammates into thinking they are blessed because the “chosen one” is playing QB for them. Going undefeated for a major portion of their 2015 regular season, the Denver Broncos float out of the tunnel with their “ chosen one” #18 , they consistently ta-too the opposing QB for 60 minutes, their specialists punt and kick the air out of the ball , and they find the end zone “just enough” to outscore their opponent by games’ end.

So who has the edge ?  Which quarterback will endure and prevail ?  Will the game turn toward the back – up QB ? (By the way, who is Carolina’s back- up  QB ? ). If #18 & #1 are truly the common denominators, then which QB has more arrows in his quiver and by the 4th Quarter which QB will hit the the Bulls Eyes for the go ahead touchdown ?

2014-09-07-peyton-manning1-e1410142174408 #18 Peyton Manning has played in several Super Bowls and won the championship trophy in 2007. That year , the game was played on grass and in the rain. (weather forecast for the Bay Area on Sunday is clear and sunny). Peyton plays at his best on early downs (1st & 2nd). Can he do this enough against a squeezing “zone” coverage Defense ? On 3rd down, when the NFL measuring stick for winning QB play  is razor sharp , can  #18  win with his arm ?  Scrambling for a 3rd down conversion is not one of Manning’s arrows and especially against a fast and agile Carolina Defense. Most of Peyton’s production this season surfaced in the first half of games. It is crucial for his Offense to find the end zone early in the game in order to give this experienced and Super Bowl tested QB the needed momentum to pass the baton onto his defensive teammates.

On the other side of the field is #1 Cam Newton. His nickname is “SuperMan” and there are many games von-miller-superman-11-9-12-4_3this season that Cam did not detract from his reputation. He plays with “no fear” and is a scoring machine once the Carolina offense enters the red zone. Newton can create in the open field and pin point throws into tight coverage. If the Broncos bring their aggressive man-to-man coverage to Sunday’s game, beware of #1 breaking loose for a 100+ rushing yards. In two playoff wins, Denver has pass rushed two opposing quarterbacks — Big Ben and Tom Brady…certainly two different style quarterbacks than Carolina’s Cam Newton when avoiding the rush inside the pocket. To contain “ Super” Cam , Denver must deploy one defender as a  “spy” who can shadow Newton’s every move on passing downs. Every now and then on 3rd downs, Cam demonstrates his fearless style and gives the defense the chance to pick off one of his passes. The Broncos must look for these opportunities to create take-aways/turnovers which translate into game changers. Beware Bronco Defenders — these opportunities don’t come often.

The hidden “X” Factor in this Super Bowl and in this QB duel is the “ Art & Magic of PLAY CALLING”.  Of the last 16 Super Bowls (2000 –2015), with only three exceptions —  the champion has predominantly been the team  where the Offensive Plays were called by an offensive coordinator NOT the head coach. The Carolina Panthers generate Offensive play calls from their offensive coordinator who analyzes the game from the press box. The Denver Bronco’s head coach calls the plays for his side from ground level – limited in what he can see.  If by chance you are traveling through Las Vegas this week — this hidden gem may give you the winning edge.   Enjoy the game !!

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Author: Terry Shea

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