On Feb. 7, the (12-4) AFC Champion Denver Broncos will meet the (15-1) NFC Champion Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara California. This will be the first time that the Panthers and the Broncos have played each other in the Super Bowl. This is the Broncos NFL-record-tying eighth Super Bowl appearance (2-5), while the Panthers are making their second Super Bowl appearance (0-1).
When the Broncos started their 2015 campaign, they seemed like the contender that they had been since Peyton Manning joined the team back in the 2012 season. However, they had several roadblocks before the season started.
The Broncos fired their Head Coach, John Fox, after the 2014 campaign and replaced him with former Houston Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak. Kubiak was the Offensive Coordinator for the Broncos when they won back to back Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998, with Quarterback John Elway who is now the General Manager of the team.
The other roadblock involved quarterback Peyton Manning, who entered the season at the age of 39 with many believing that this would be his last season. Manning started off hot in the 2014 season only to finish cold as he would battle injuries; it seemed like age had finally caught up to him. When the 2015 NFL season kicked off, Manning would try to shake the ghosts from the end of last season and prove that at age 39 he could still perform at an elite level.
The Broncos would start the season with a 7-0 record. Peyton Manning was running the offense, but it was not a pretty sight. Passes were not accurate and he was turning the ball over faster than any other time in his career.
Manning would throw four interceptions against the Chiefs and be benched, later revealing that he was fighting a foot injury. The Broncos would then rely on their number one ranked defense and backup quarterback Brock Osweiler to man the ship.
Manning would return in the regular season finale to help the Broncos clinch the number one seed in the AFC and have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Broncos would meet the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round and would win the game 23-16. Denver would rely on their defense and Peyton Manning not making any mistakes while also guiding the offense towards the end zone.
The AFC Championship game would be highly publicized, as the New England Patriots would be coming to town. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady would probably be meeting for the seventeenth and last time.
The Broncos defense would knock Brady in to the ground 14 times. Fans watching the game would see a confident Manning throw two touchdowns. After clinching the AFC Championship game by a close score of 20-18, Peyton Manning would be one game closer to destiny.
The Carolina Panthers started the season looking to get further than they did in their last two seasons, which ended in the divisional round both years. Quarterback Cam Newton was looking to use this season to prove that he can be an elite quarterback in the NFL. Head Coach Ron Rivera entered his fifth year with a 31-31-1 record. The Panthers were ready to prove that they were the top dogs of the NFC and they took the league by storm.
The Panthers would experience their greatest season in franchise history. They would start the season 14-0 and finish 15-1, with their only loss being to the Atlanta Falcons in week 16.
The Seattle Seahawks would travel to Charlotte to try and advance to their third straight Super Bowl. The Panthers would have a 31-0 lead and halftime and would hold off the Seahawks 31-24 to advance to play the Arizona Cardinals for the NFC Championship.
The NFC Championship Game would start off ugly and only get worse from there. The Panthers defense would force Carson Palmer to turn the ball over 6 times, and the Panthers would roll the Cardinals 49-15. Cam Newton would pass for two touchdowns and run for two more.
The Panthers are listed as a 3-5 point favorite over the Broncos. Students across the Wilkes campus are trying to guess who will come away as the winner of the game.
Sophomore accounting major Joe Dietz is excited to watch the game for several reasons.
“I am happy to see the Broncos get back to the game and try to redeem themselves after they got blown out by the Seahawks two years ago,” Dietz said. “I would like to see Peyton Manning possibly end his career with his second Super Bowl ring to shake off all the playoff losses. But I think the Panthers are the team of destiny right now: it’s their time.”
Sophomore nursing major Matt Dellario also believes in the Panthers bringing home the title.
“They’re the hot team right now and I don’t see them being slowed down,” Dellario said. “But if the Broncos defense slows down Newton then I think it will be a really close and exciting game.”
Senior criminology major Mike Jorda also believes that the Panthers will win the game.
“It’s the Panthers time to step up and become the champion,” Jorda said. “Manning has had his chances in the Super Bowl and he has got his ring. He had two other chances to win. Its Cam Newton’s time to shine.
As the game quickly approaches, fans and people who just watch the Super Bowl should be excited for this year’s game, because it seems like it is going to be an instant classic.