Today’s the big day.  And truth be told, I almost forgot to publish a followup post.  I’m glad I didn’t because I left a lot of things open in the air after the last post… and may have shown my Panthers bias off a little too much.  But that’s only natural, being from Charlotte and driving by Bank of America Stadium at least once a week, every week of my life since I was 11.

Last time, I loaded my entry with numerous Cam Newton GIFs to substantiate just how much he has been a factor in turning this Panthers squad around.  And obviously, professional NFL head coaches and writers agreed with me, because Cam Newton was voted the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year, as well as the NFL MVP.  That’s a huge milestone for Newton, and for the Carolina Panthers.  And before you ask, no, he didn’t hand his trophy to a kid in the crowd.

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera also won his second Coach of the Year Award, which is also an impressive feat, given that he now has only one fewer than Bill Belichick, the 4-time Super Bowl winning coach of the Patriots who will undoubtedly have his name written in the history books… and Rivera’s only been doing this for 5 years.  For those of you who don’t know, Ron Rivera changed his conservative play calling after a last-second, 24-23 loss to an average Buffalo Bills team, and has since gone 36-11.  He’s now known as “Riverboat Ron” for his high-stakes decisions, and has garnered this incredible GIF from the Panthers fanbase:

But now, onto the game itself.  There’s been a lot of talk as to whether the Panthers defense can stop the Broncos offense, led by one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, Peyton Manning.  Some speculate that Manning has decided to call it quits after this game, given his many injuries in the past 4 years.  And although Manning has had an abysmal year where he led the league in interceptions, he has not thrown any in the playoffs so far.  Injured or not, we should remember that Manning has able to make plays like this:

He timed and placed that pass perfectly, and that was from earlier this year.  If vintage Peyton Manning comes to play in the Super Bowl, it’ll be an incredible game, and the Panthers will have their work cut out for them.

Perhaps the biggest headline preceding the Super Bowl, however, is not the tale of the two quarterbacks — it’s the tale of the two defenses.  Statistically, the Broncos had the number one defense in the NFL this year in yards allowed.  It’s led by veteran pass rusher DeMarcus Ware (who is a definite lock for the Hall of Fame) and the 2nd pick of the 2011 NFL Draft (after Cam) Von Miller, who is just as big of a defensive threat.

On the other end, the Panthers defense is just as dominant in its own way — getting turnovers, and scoring off them.  Led by the undisputed best middle linebacker in the league, Luke Kuechly, the Panthers defense is superb at reading the offensive scheme and capitalizing upon it.  Backed by cornerback Josh Norman, who is having a career season in a contract year, and Kurt Coleman — the journeyman safety who found a home with the Panthers, en route to 7 interceptions on the year.  The Panthers have the best defense in the NFL in terms of points scored off turnovers.  Their success has been marked by this play, in particular:

As well as many more like it.  It’ll be exciting to see which defense can get the best of the opposing quarterback.

It’ll be an interesting game, and I have no idea what’s going to happen.  All I can do is hope that the Panthers come out on top.  Also, as an advertising major, you better believe that I’m just as excited for the commercials as I am for the game… okay, maybe almost as much.  But that’ll be fun to talk about in class soon.  Stay tuned, eat a lot, and rep your team tonight!



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