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Carolina will shine bright on biggest stage

Opinions Column: The Morant

Sunday will mark the end of an era. 

NFL fans will no longer be able to watch one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time making his pre-snap reads, yelling “Omaha!” after Super Bowl 50. 

Yes, that’s right. I, like most, believe Peyton Manning is playing in his last game on Feb. 7.

Unfortunately for Manning, not all stories have a happy ending.

I am picking the Carolina Panthers to pull out the victory over the Denver Broncos.

Manning will end his career as one of the most decorated quarterbacks — a five-time Most Valuable Player, most passing touchdowns in NFL history, most passing yards and touchdowns in a single season, just to name a few.

However, there will always be the one thing that eluded him, a second championship. He will fall short of his arch-rival, Tom Brady, by three, and his own brother, Eli, by one. He will have lost three Super Bowls.

Okay, let’s be honest, Peyton has not been Peyton since late last season. A solid offensive line, running game as well as the reliable hands of his receivers, masked his deficiencies and his noodle arm.

This season, it has been a massive struggle with the makeshift offensive line and the numerous drops by his receivers. Not to mention the plantar fasciitis injury that kept him out for six weeks.

His arm strength is not there and neither is his vision, throwing 17 interceptions to just nine touchdowns.

It has been hard to watch, especially after seeing how great he was in his prime.

This year, he has been carried by a historic defense that gets stops and turnovers when they need to.

A lot of fans will want to see one of the classiest players out there in Manning go out on top, but boy do I have some bad news for them.

Manning and the Broncos will be running with a full head of steam into a brick wall.

The Carolina Panthers led by the undoubted MVP of the season, Cam Newton, have had a sensational season. They finished the regular season 15-1. Newton finished with 4,473 yards and 45 touchdowns.

What is more impressive is he did this with arguably one of the worst offensive units from a pure talent standpoint. Ted Ginn Jr. was a “bust.” Philly Brown is probably the 6th receiving option on the Broncos. Michael Oher was one of the worst tackles the last three seasons. Jonathan Stewart became the lead back after being injured and missing portions of three consecutive seasons.

The offense is a group of misfits and rejects, yet somehow Cam makes it work with the help of the great Don Shula’s son, Mike, as well as his favorite target, tight end Greg Olsen.

The defense has been very impressive as well, with one of the most stout front seven's you will see. They have the best linebacker in the game in Luke Kuechly. Along side him, is Thomas Davis, who is also a stud player. Their defensive line has such great depth that they all play a role but perhaps no one is more crucial than Kawann Short, the defensive tackle.

But has their been a greater story than that of head coach Ron Rivera? Once on the verge of being fired after a horrendous start last season, the team won four straight and earned a playoff birth where they defeated the Arizona Cardinals in the first round.

Before their week 16 loss this season, the team had won 18 straight regular season games. They bought into Rivera’s system and got behind him. They believed in him and it paid off. Rivera is known throughout the NFL as “Riverboat Ron” mostly because of some of the gambles that he takes in a game.

Luckily for him, I don’t foresee many gambles being taken this week. I think the Panthers win the game by 6 or more points to be honest. I think this for five reasons: (1) Cameron Jerrell Newton, (2) the Broncos horrendous offense, (3) the Panthers' defense to force turnovers, (4) Ron Rivera and Gary Kubiak and (5) the Broncos luck has run out.

No. 5, I would like to expand on some more. Other than the Green Bay game this season, have you watched the Broncos and been thoroughly impressed from the first snap until the last? It seems like they skid by the thick of their teeth more than any other team in the league. Is it luck? Probably not. Is it taking advantage of other teams poor decision-making late in game? Yes, it is Bill Belichick. Some of it is absolute dumb luck like the week two win against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Panthers were the best team in football all season long, and on Sunday, with the world looking on, I believe that they prove it.

Carolina 28, Denver 17.

Ryan Moran is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies and economics. His column, “The Morant,” runs on alternate Mondays.


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