Super Bowl Primer
By Mike Murray
Hey Bolt Fans! Whether you are in the camp of “Man it will be awesome to see an AFC West team win the Super Bowl” or “I hope are beloved Broncos get embarrassed in the Super Bowl AGAIN!” I want you to be prepared for the big game with lots of meaningless stats so you can sound intelligent at those crazy Super Bowl parties.
The BasicsThe Panthers offense ranked #1 in points per game during the regular season averaging a staggering 31.2 per game. They did it with a powerful running attack that ranked second in the league with 142.6 yards per game. The ranked 24th in passing and 11th in total yards.
The Broncos offense was in the middle of the pack. They ranked 19th in points scored at 22.2. They were 14th in passing, 17th in rushing and 16th in yards gained.
The Broncos defense however was one of the best in the league. They were 1st in yards allowed. They were 3rd against the run giving up only 83.6 yards per game and 1st against the pass giving up just under 200 per game. And in the most important stat – points allowed they were 4th giving up a paltry 18.5 per game.
The Panthers defense is not too shabby either. The ranked 6th in points allowed with a 19.2 average per game. They were 4th against the run allowing 88.4 per game and 22nd against the pass allowing 234.5 per game. In overall yards allowed the ranked 6th.
Some may argue that most important stats are points scored… lets take a closer look.Panthers – scored 31.2 per game / allowed 19.2Broncos – scored 22.2 / allowed 18.5
Taking a look at those stats up close up you realize that the tension point of the game is going to be when Carolina has the ball. Is that Panther offense that scored 31.2 on average going to be able to overcome that defense that has only allowed 18.5 per game? Something has to give.
ConsistencyAs you look at the individual games with these two teams you see consistency. There are not a lot of ups and downs. They do their thing no matter who the opponent is.
The Panthers scored less than 20 in only one game this season. Since week 10, including the playoffs, they have scored over 30 in every game except one.
The Broncos have held opponents to 20 or less points in 12 of 18 matchups this year.
The PlayoffsUsually the stats of teams that have played well in the regular season begin to look more normal when the enter they playoffs. That has not been true of these two teams.
The Broncos stifled two very good offenses, holding the Patriots (3rd in the league in points scored) to 18 and the Steelers (4th in the league in points scored) to 16. A very good resume heading into the final game.
The Panthers hung 31 points on the Seahawks (the #1 defense in points allowed) and 49 on the Cardinals (8th in the league in points allowed).
The big surprise was how well the Panthers D played. The Cardinals boasted the 2nd best scoring offense in the league at 30.6 per game and the Panthers held them to 15. The Seahawks had the 4th best scoring offense at 26.4 and the Panthers held them to 24.
What to expect when Denver has the ball.I think the Broncos are going to struggle against the Panthers defensive line. This unit has played awesome through the playoffs. If they can disrupt Manning it could be a long day for the Broncos who already struggle to put points on the board.
What to expect when Carolina has the ball.Fireworks on both sides. There are going to be bodies flying all over the place. However, I still expect the Carolina scoring machine to keep rolling along. If Denver is going to win they are going to need to do what no other team has done this season – slow down the Carolina Panther offense.
PredictionsDenver will struggle to score points and find the endzone… expect a lot of FGs. Carolina will continue to roll. The last two weeks they have looked like a team of destiny – the energy and intensity has been there. If the Broncos allow them to get up early on them, it will be over.
If Denver is going to win they need to manufacture points with their defense or special teams. They need to find a way to put points on the board. And Denver will need to not turn the ball over themselves and give Carolina short fields. Denver can win but they will need a near perfect game.
Carolina 27, Broncos 15.