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Super Bowl 50: The Game of the (Half) Century

Posted 02/05/2016 by Evan Gould

artwork by Andrew Villescas

The Denver Broncos will meet the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 with implications to be one of the greatest games ever.

After a huge win on January 24th against the New England Patriots, the city of Denver has found reason to celebrate as the Broncos are in the Super Bowl for the second time in the past three years. The Broncos achieved the win by a score of 20-18, and silenced the doubters in the process. Despite being the number one seed in the American Football Conference (AFC) and having home field avantage, people around the world still had reasons to doubt the Broncos’ ability to beat the Patriots. Many thought Peyton Manning and the rest of the Broncos’ offense wasn’t capable of beating the defending Super Bowl champions after scoring only one touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Divisional Round. However, the Broncos showed once again that a great defense beats a great offense.

Two weeks later, the Broncos find themselves in the same position, doubted and overlooked again as the Carolina Panthers are favored by six points, according to CBS Sports. However, the Broncos enjoy being overlooked. It gives them a chip on their shoulder. “We’ve had the top-ranked D all year, no credit all year,” stated Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib, according to Local 12 News in Cincinnati. “We all know what it’s going to take to get that credit, but we’re just going to keep on strapping up, keep on playing.” Led by Talib, Von Miller, TJ Ward, and DeMarcus Ware, the Broncos have the best defense in the NFL and completely rattled Tom Brady in the AFC Championship. They will have to play the same way in order to take down the Panthers.

On the other side of the ball, Manning has struggled with injuries for the majority of the season and only recently reclaimed the starting spot from Brock Osweiler. Despite the adversity, Manning has shown in the last two playoff games why he is considered one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL. He is on the quest for his second Super Bowl championship, and it would be a dream come true for him to win Super Bowl 50 in what most people believe to be the last game of his career.

The Broncos thoroughly enjoyed beating the Patriots in the AFC Championship, but have little time to dwell on it as their biggest challenge is still ahead. The team has been practicing hard all week at Dove Valley and have arrived at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California to take on the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. The Panthers will be a tough matchup, as they currently stand at 17-1 on the season and are coming off a blowout win against the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship by the score of 49-15. The Panthers have been a big surprise this year, as they have the number one rated offense in the league led by arguably the best player in the league, Cam Newton, along with All-Pro tight end Greg Olsen and a revitalized veteran in Ted Ginn Jr. Not only do the Panthers have a prolific offense, but their defense is top-notch as well. Josh Norman, Luke Kuechly, and Thomas Davis have been wreaking havoc for the Panthers all year long. Despite the many headlines about it being Peyton Manning’s “last rodeo,” the Panthers don’t seem to care very much. “We don’t really care if this is his last game,” Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert commented. “He’s played what, 18, 19 years? He’s had enough, you know what I’m saying? It’s our turn.” The Broncos will have to come out hungry if they wish to stop the Panthers from winning their first Super Bowl in franchise history and becoming the fourth team in NFL history to win 18 games in a season.

Despite being located in the dead center of Bronco country, there are many people taking the Dark Side and predicting a Panthers victory here at Thomas Jefferson High School. “Let’s be real. The Panthers are just a better team. It’s that simple,” commented senior Becca Gubrud. In addition, sophomore Conner Side said, “Remember what happened two years ago? The same thing is going to happen this year. It’s because the Broncos are always way too confident and go into the game thinking it’s going to be easy. They’ll be lucky to only lose by 20.” In spite of all the nonbelievers at TJ, there are many diehard Broncos fans that are very optimistic about the game. “I think they’ve got this,” said junior Kate Lepry. “The team is going to be fighting hard in order to make Peyton Manning go out on top.” Senior Adis Rogonich agreed, “I know the Broncos are going to get the win because the Panthers don’t have the pieces on offense to matchup with our defense. I can’t wait.” The school is pumped up for the big game and will be united in orange and blue on Friday in preparation for Sunday’s game.

Super Bowl 50 is set up to be one for the ages as it offers many intriguing headlines. It will be the first time that two quarterbacks selected first overall in the draft will play each other in the Super Bowl. Will Peyton Manning go out on top, or is it the start of Cam Newton’s legacy? This is a different Broncos team from years past. They are ready to make history. “This team is different. I think this team has handled the playoffs better than the past years. This is a different time, a different team,” said Broncos cornerback Chris Harris. “People always look at what happened before and try to put it on something else, but I don’t think it matters.” After 18 years, it’s time to bring the Lombardi trophy back to Denver.