|Photo: Chris White|
If you're not a sports fan, sorry, because this week's "My Friday Five" is all about the Super Bowl!
1. End Zone Faux Pas
You know, it's great that the NFL allows two weeks in between the conference championships and the Super Bowl. There is time for the teams to prepare, the fans to get excited, the media to concoct some silly questions to ask the players and coaches - and the grounds crews to get their acts straight too, I guess. Each team in the Super Bowl has a certain end zone that features its logo and colors. Apparently, the paint crew at Levi's Stadium, home to Super Bowl 50, didn't get the memo about which end zone to paint in Denver Broncos colors and had to take the paint off and paint the other end zone. Some pictures that circled the social media world showed some remnants of Broncos paint in what should have been the Carolina Panthers' end zone before the crew re-painted it in the team's colors. Just add this to the list of disrespect the Panthers have received this season haha!
2. The Matchup
Now, onto the game itself. We're just a few days away from the big game. This matchup of two No. 1 seeds is really great. I mean, you couldn't ask for better. On one end, you have Carolina, a prolific offense with in my view the most dynamic player in the league, Cam Newton, who has a great supporting cast. Carolina can score quick and fast, with the likes of Mike Tolbert and Jonathan Stewart powering the run game down the field as well as Greg Olsen, Ted Ginn, Jr., Corey Brown and Jerricho Cotchery - who's a fellow N.C. State alum I might add - leading the passing game. The offense is joined by a stellar defense that has been near the top of the NFL thanks to the likes of Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Roman Harper, former UNC football standout Tre Boston and others.
Denver is led by one of the greatest to play the game, Peyton Manning. But he's certainly not the only playmaker on the team. Von Miller and Demarcus Ware anchor a defense that has been heavily touted as the best this season. The duo made life very difficult for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. Combine that with the aforementioned Manning, who has a tremendous football IQ, and a receiving corps that can make plays and you have a very talented team and a pretty evenly matched game.
3. Cam vs. Peyton
It's been talked about at nauseum - so I'll just repeat it again. Peyton Manning will become the oldest quarterback to start in a Super Bowl on Sunday. I came across an article from Yahoo! Sports that mentioned about the age difference between Cam and Peyton. It said that, in 1998, Cam was starting the fourth grade while Peyton was starting his NFL career. Dang! It's also crazy to think that, in 50 years of the Super Bowl, this will be the first matchup of No. 1 NFL Draft picks. Beyond those stats, there is no denying the talent that both Cam and Peyton possess. It's going to be fun to watch.
4. Keys For Both Teams
My keys to the game for both teams are pretty simple. The main question for the Broncos going into this game is how will the defense contain Cam and the Panthers' offense? Will the defense be able to put any pressure on Cam? The Broncos' offense will also have to produce if the team wants any chance at a championship. It must be able to put up points without coughing up the football. If the Broncos give easy opportunities to the Panthers, such as short field situations, the game will be over quick. I have one key for the Panthers: just be you. This team has had its own swagger throughout the season and it shouldn't change now. I hope the glitz and glamour of the Super Bowl doesn't get into the Panthers players' heads. I have a feeling it won't.
5. Go Panthers!
Okay, I've been diplomatic and talked about both teams, but now I'm going to focus on my team. I've been a Carolina Panthers fan for as long as I can remember. If I had to assign a numeric value to it, I'd say I became a diehard fan during the team's only other Super Bowl campaign, 12 years ago. I've supported the franchise through the good and bad - you can read more about that here. This Panthers team is something special and I truly believe that this is the year the Lombardi Trophy will finally come home to Charlotte!
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