I think these teams are generally pretty evenly matched. The Patriots, despite not having a great defense, are a great all-around team and the Falcons have the best offense in the NFL. Ultimately, I think the Patriots will win because they’ve been able to win so much without Gronk and the Falcons will have a tough time with the injuries to Julio Jones and Alex Mack. Also, the Falcons are still the Falcons and the Patriots have so much Super Bowl experience. But, I would not be totally shocked if the Falcons win, given that they are such a great team.
After the Broncos barely beat the Patriots to take the AFC and the Panthersdominated the Cardinals to take the NFC on Sunday, January 24, I was much more sure about my pick to win Super Bowl 50. I was sure this game would be more or less a re-run of Super Bowl 48, where the Seahawks just annihilated the Broncos, 43-8. But, the difference this time is that the Broncos have an even better defense than the Panthers (who are also great on defense). Thomas Davis having a broken arm (said to be starting) may also be an issue for the Panthers.
Another factor to consider is the Panthers’ habit of letting teams come back. The Divisional Round game against the Seahawks was an extreme example, but it happened a few other times this season. Allowing the Broncos to come back might just allow the Manning to find a way to win. More likely, if it’s close, the Broncos’ defense might be able to keep the Panthers from making a late run to decide the game.
But, as much as a 2nd Super Bowl win for Peyton Manning would be the perfect way for him to end his potential “last rodeo,” I think it’s more likely that Cam Newton becomes the first starting quarterback to win an NCJAA Championship, an NCAA Championship, win the Heisman, an NFL MVP award, and a Super Bowl… maybe even a Super Bowl MVP.
The Panthers will probably get off to a hot start. Manning will likely be forced to try and make big plays if the Broncos are playing from behind, and that isn’t likely to end well for the Broncos.