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NFL Pro Football 2015 Super Bowl XLX Picks

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Fearless Rick's NFL Super Bowl Pick

Rick Gagliano | February 7, 2016

All times Eastern - Click here for more

Super Bowl 50

Levi's Stadium, San Francisco, CA, 6:40 pm ET

Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers (-5 1/2, 45)

Fifty years of Super Bowls and it comes down again to the annual ritual, ending the NFL season with a bang, as the Denver Broncos meet the Carolina Panthers for the short-lived bragging rights to be called the world's best professional football team.

There are some similarities between the two squads but more differences, as we shall see shortly. Perhaps the most glaring likeness is on defense, where the two teams both finished in the top six in both yards per game allowed and points allowed per game through the regular season.

Denver was tops in the league in yards allowed, giving up a stingy 283.1 per outing, compared to Carolina's 322.9 mark, good for 6th overall. In points, Denver was likewise the better of the two, allowing, on average, 18.5 points per game, good for fourth in the NFL. The Panthers gave up just 19.3, again, checking in at the #6 spot.

The Broncos had the league's best pass defense, as the only team in the league to allow fewer than 200 points per game, but only by a fraction. Denver's defenders allowed 199.6 yards passing and 83.6 yards rushing, third only to the Seahawks (81.5) and the NY Jets (83.4). Carolina was also strong defensively against the run, allowing 88.4 yards per contest, while giving up 234.5 yards per game through the air.

Give Carolina a little more credit, however, as they often were in the act of blowing away their opponents en route to a 15-1 record, the NFC South division title and the #1 seed in the playoffs. Denver finished with a record of 12-4, winning the AFC West with the #1 seed in the AFC.


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Offensively, the Panthers were the better team, hands down, though some of that could be attributed to the fact that the Broncos were without quarterback Peyton Manning for pretty much half the season. Manning was injured in week 10, a 29-13 loss to the Chiefs, and returned just in time to rally the Broncos to a 27-20 win over San Diego in the season finale. So, Denver had some offensive falloff with Brock Osweiler filling in behind center. The Broncos went 4-2 in the games he both started and finished, but the average point total for the Broncos in those games was 20.5 points, which pulled the Broncos down to #22 in the league offensively, at 22.2 points per game.

On the other side of the ball, Carolina averaged a league-high 31.2 ppg. and also led the league in rushing yards (142.6) thanks to frequent romps by QB Cam Newton, in addition to the regular rushing of Jonathan Stewart (989 yards on 242 carries), who shouldered most of the load, with frequent fill-ins by Mike Tolbert (256 yards).


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For Denver, their two-headed attack of Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson accounted for 1583 of the Broncos' 1718 rushing yards, far behind Carolina's 2282.

Cam Newton threw for 3837 yards, completing 296 of 495 attempts, with 35 TDs and just 10 interceptions. Newton's throwing and rushing will likely result in his being named NFL offensive player of the year. He also rushed for 10 touchdowns.

By contrast, Manning, in what amounted to roughly half a season, threw for 2249 yards, nine touchdowns and a shocking 17 interceptions. Naturally, the picks are partially attributable to Manning's advanced age (39), which is a huge difference in this game. Newton is just 26 years of age and Manning's rushing accounted for a -6 yards on six carries, so the difference is stark.

All times Eastern - Click here for conclusion (page 2)

Copyright 2015, 2016, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.

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