Hey guys, this is Coach Webb here at DUDEronomy, and Superbowl week is upon us! Now I know that there are a lot of men that couldn’t care less about the game on Sunday, and that’s okay. But for us DUDEs that do, I’m going to try to cover the entire game in this article, from the X’s and O’s of the Panthers and the Broncos, to the story lines taking place surrounding both organizations. I’m also going to try to wrap up with the festivities before, during, and after the game. Oh, and let’s not forget, THE COMMERCIALS!!!!
So lets start with looking at the football game itself. I’m not going to try to be too controversial with my opinions about players or what in the world Cam Newton has worn this week. (Personally I don’t think it was very kind of Cam to steal flower pants from his mom’s house, but he’s a Heisman winner and probably NFL MVP, so I say he can do whatever he wants.) I want to take a look at what we will see on the field, and it’s the #1 offense in the league, facing the #1 defense. The unstoppable force will meet the immovable object on Sunday, and this game should be very interesting.
A big thing from media days this week asked to the Denver players has been, “Are you worried about falling flat on your face again like two years ago?” If you’re a Denver fan, breath easy, this isn’t the same team who rode Peyton’s arm to the championship game a couple of years back. Indeed this time around you are watching a team built for defense, and boy do they excel. Take a look at the AFC championship game alone, shutting down a top-three scoring offense to only 18 points, pressuring the leagues top-3 passer in Tom Brady 19 times (!!!), and actually getting the sack 4 times. Even when Brady was able to get the ball off under the pressure, it led to 2 ints and a sub 50% passer rating. With playmakers on every level of the defense, from DeMarcus Ware at the DL to Von Miller at LB and Aquib Talib at DB, the unit has been fearsome for opposing offenses all season long.
Panthers fans aren’t sweating the AFC championship numbers though, because the Panthers have taken an unconventional offense (one without a go-to guy on that side of the ball) and have strung together a prolific offense football fans may not see again for a while. With Kelvin Benjamin out for the season with a torn ACL, the Panthers have looked to spread the ball around to role player after role player, from journeyman Ted Ginn Jr to a “washed up” Jerricho Cotchery, a “drafted too high WR” in Devin Funchess to no name guys outside of Carolina: Brenton Bersin and Philly Brown. With a laundry list of number 2 and 3 receivers for most teams, the Panthers scored 500 points in the regular season, surpassing all other teams. The closest target Cam Newton has to being only the elite level, is pro bowl tight end Greg Olsen, but he isn’t the normal “feed me the ball” wide out you expect from a dynamic offense. With less-than-elite talent, the Panthers have put together an enigmatic offensive approach centered around the ability of their all-world quarterback, Cam Newton. Yes Newton may be flashy, yes he may rub people the wrong way for how he still has fun and enjoys the game, but make no mistake about it, Cam Newton is elite. He is the go-to receiver, he is the goal line RB, he is the man in the league at the moment people would want the ball in his hands with the game on the line. After going against a top-ranked Cardinals defense in the NFC championship game, and torching that defense for 49 points, the Panthers offense shows no signs of slowing down going into the biggest game in franchise history.
The SuperBowl may get boring for the casual football fan, though, because the game will be won and lost at the line of scrimmage. Now I know this is a normal adage that probably gets overused in the football world, but with the two teams facing off Sunday, their success has been linked to the big boys up front. Constant control at the line of scrimmage has allowed Carolina to have its way offensively this year, allowing the Panthers to have Johnathan Stewart and Cam to rush for a league 2nd rushing attack, piling up 19 total ground scores. Coupled with Newton only taking three hits in the backfield in 2 playoff games, guys like Michael Oher, Andrew Norwell, Ryan Kalil, and Trai Turner have absolutely dominated up front. From Denver’s standpoint, they are looking to continue their defensive trend of holding opponents to 3.3 yards per carry, which was the lowest of any team in the league this year. Having a run stuffer like DE Derek Wolff work stout against the run with NT Sylvester Williams, the Broncos have flourished using Ware and Von Miller to generate a fierce pass rush, and will look to use inside pressure to keep Newton tucked away in the pocket, not allowing the big plays outside of the pocket the Panthers have become accustomed to.
Of course, the #1 offense vs the #1 defense will be the most widely criticized, analyzed, and broken down part of the game until Sunday, but the wildcard will be how efficient each team can be on the other side of the ball. While the Panther’s offense has gathered a lot of attention, let us not be remiss to know they have a smothering defensive unit, led by the likes of Luke Kuechly at ILB, and Josh Norman at CB. They have been the anchor that has allowed so much success for the Panther’s run game this season, placing teams with terrible field position. On the flip side, the Broncos still have a sure-fire HOF quarterback on offense, “the Sheriff”, Peyton Manning. While hard to believe at this stage of his career, but before the disaster that was the Seahawks championship game two years ago, Manning would have never been seen as an underdog at QB in his career. His prime has past though, giving way to an aging body and throwing arm, missing most of the season with injury this year, and being a back up for the first time in his career since his freshman year at UT. At one point this year it looked bleak for his return, let alone success, but Manning has found a way to put together one last “rodeo” leading the Broncos effectively through the playoffs, showing the swagger that only seasoned veterans bring with them, using his football I.Q. to make up for his lack of physical ability. Driving an offense without a starting QB, WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are still dangerous to handle, along with a surging Owen Daniels at TE, and a 1-2 threat at RB in Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson, this offense looks to have a different mindset going into Superbowl 50 than the last time Denver’s offense saw the Championship game.
A lot has come to light over the last week and a half regarding things said by players from both teams going into the Big Game. Cam Newton made headlines with what many have debated as a “racial” comment about people never seeing a QB like him before. Regardless of how people perceived his comments, it is very interesting to take note that football fans are discussing culture more this season than in years past; with a change in perception from men in suits and ties at podiums speaking on their teams behalf, to men showing their sense of style openly, and speaking more freely than ever before. (Or maybe, in Marshawn Lynch’s case, NOT speaking freely more than ever before. I only mentioned him, so I don’t get fined.) Peyton Manning also made his fair share of controversy, possibly leaking to Bill Belichick that this Superbowl game may be his last game ever. If this is the case, we are all perhaps about to witness something that we haven’t seen since the GM of the Broncos John Elway, and that is a HOF QB hanging it up after winning a title.
So lets change gears and look at the Superbowl outside of the football standpoint, shall we? First things first, I know every man out there was excited to hear that Lady Gaga was singing the national anthem, right??? Actually, I’m scared to death of it (her singing the anthem, not calling Gaga an it…), because as a sports fan, I’m a stickler for the national anthem. My dad was an Army guy, so I always hold the anthem dear, and I’m always the maddest guy in the room when someone takes an “artistic” turn with it. Crossing my fingers in hopes of something normal and great coming from Gaga, but I’ve been waiting for normal and great her whole career…. Halftime show? It’s Coldplay. Now, it’s hard to figure out if I should put “It’s COLDPLAY!!!” or “It’s Coldplay……” depending on what you think of their music. My first manly moment was asking my crush at the 8th grade dance to dance with me for the first time during Coldplay’s song “Yellow”, so I hold a place for them near and dear, and I can get more excited for them as a man than I could Katy Perry. With Coldplay, there will also be an appearance by Beyonce. Now, the 13- year-old me would have probably been a lot happier to see this than the 29 year old me, but I’ll give Queen B her props 16 years later and still headlining the Superbowl halftime show.
If you aren’t a football fan, and you’re not a Coldplay/Beyonce fan, there is still a huge draw to watch this game. And of course I’m talking about commercials. Last year we were “treated” to a more man/dad centered barrage of ads, sobering up men and pulling the tears from their eyes on command. This year looks to be more of a resurgence of the comedic commercials with Skittles and Ryan Renolds along with Superbowl babies and Seal. T-Mobile is also tapping into Drake’s “Hotline Bling.” Of course there will still be the normal product placements, as well as movie/game trailers. All in all it is looking to be another great year of commercials every minute and 30 seconds of the game.
So on an end-point, I hope each of you out there enjoy Superbowl Sunday for more than a game or a show to watch. I hope it is a time for you to gather with your friends or your family and make memories that last beyond some silly ball game extravaganza. Make wings with your buddies or stay in home with your wife/kids/siblings/parents and play games. Never get too caught up with this world that you let the time during this game go by without making the most of it. The most prevalent Bible quote you will hear from players in the game will most likely be Phillipians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Those players will all be looking to win Sunday, but let us not forget what Paul said before that in verse 12, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” Let’s not forget as we look to athletes, and also to ourselves, to do everything through Christ that strengthens us.
P.S.A. (I Know I Said End-Point Before)
I know the Superbowl seems to most “manly-men” like a good time to break open the alcohol and act a fool. I understand, my first beer ever was during the Superbowl. (It was nasty, I immediately switched back to my Mountain Dew Code Red, and told people to get out of my way so I could watch the Patriots lose to the Giants. Big shout out to David Tyree, wherever you are.) Its tempting to get caught up in that part of “manliness” with all the ads and promotions, but men are called to stand out more than that to the world. The Superbowl is not awesome enough to be the last event you enjoy on Earth because you decided to drink at the restaurant or your at your buddy’s place without getting someone to drive home. I know you wanted to seem like you were a tough guy that could handle his alcohol, but c’mon, men. Be responsible.