The big game is finally here, and the Mount Airy News’ sports staff is combining with local football coaches to put their football acumen to the test.
Below are predictions from the four head football coaches from Surry County and three sports writers from The News. The Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers will kickoff Super Bowl 50 from the San Francisco Bay Area at 6:30 p.m.
John Cate, Mount Airy News sports editor
Prediction: Broncos 23, Panthers 17 (OT)
Analysis: The Denver defensive line had a total of 41 hits, sacks, and hurries against Tom Brady, one of the best in the business when it comes to reading defenses and finding the ‘hot’ receiver before the rush gets to him. Cam Newton is the NFL’s MVP this season and deserves to be, but he’s going to be tested on Sunday in a way that Seattle and Arizona couldn’t. The Broncos hold their own for 60 minutes, and the final play of Peyton Manning’s career is a walk-off touchdown pass in the first overtime game in Super Bowl history.
Matchup to watch: Cam Newton and the Panthers’ offensive line versus Denver’s defensive front.
David Diamont, East Surry head football coach
Prediction: Panthers 28, Broncos 14
Analysis: The Panthers can run the ball up the gut. The zone reads are going to keep those Bronco defensive ends occupied, and Cam (Newton) is going to do his thing. The defenses are going to be fantastic for both sides, but that offensive line for the Panthers is going to be the difference because I think they can control the line of scrimmage when they decide to run the ball.
Matchup to watch: Carolina’s offensive tackles versus Denver’s defensive ends.
Jackson Fuller, Mount Airy News sports reporter
Prediction: Broncos 27, Panthers 24
Analysis: Call me a romantic, but Peyton Manning walking off the field at Levi’s Stadium as a Super Bowl Champion sounds like a scripted and beautiful ending to his career. So many factors favor the Panthers, but if the Denver defensive line can create pressure on Cam Newton, the Broncos will have a shot. The first half is going to be very important for Denver, as the Panthers are outscoring opponents 321-128 in the first two quarters this season. If the Broncos can keep it close heading into the Coldplay halftime show, I like their chances.
Matchup to watch: Bronco secondary versus Carolina’s Greg Olsen and Ted Ginn Jr.
Kelly Holder, Mount Airy head football coach
Prediction: Panthers 30, Broncos 21
Analysis: Right now, I just think the Panthers are playing too well. Both defenses are going to be good. I don’t think there’s a ton of defense played in the NFL right now, but these are two of the very best. But still, I think there’s going to be some points put on the board. The Panthers are fortunate, because Cam Newton is a freak. I just don’t see Denver being able to put up enough points to beat the Panthers.
Matchup to watch: Josh Norman and Luke Kuechly versus Denver’s wide receivers and tight ends.
Jeff Linville, Mount Airy News associate editor
Prediction: Panthers 27, Broncos 16
Analysis: I can’t see weak-armed Peyton Manning being effective in the end zone, especially with Luke Kuechley and Thomas Davis covering the underneath routes. I see Denver kicking too many field goals while the Panthers are getting TDs.
Matchup to watch: Carolina right tackle Mike Remmers versus Denver’s Von Miller.
Danny Lyons, North Surry head football coach
Prediction: Panthers 27, Broncos 17
Analysis: I think the Panthers are going to be able to handle Von Miller enough to win the game. I also think a key is going to be tackling in space for Carolina. The Broncos are going to attack short and quick, but I think Carolina has the advantage there and it’s going to help them get off the field on defense. Of course, you can never count out Peyton Manning. He’s one of the greatest to ever play.
Matchup to watch: Carolina’s offensive tackles versus Denver’s Von Miller.
Monty Southern, Surry Central head football coach
Prediction: Panthers 24, Broncos 13
Analysis: I think as good as the Bronco defense is, I don’t think they’ve faced an offense like the Panthers. They were all over (Tom) Brady in the AFC Championship, but you can’t rush Cam (Newton) the same way you rush a pocket passer. I think those defensive ends will be neutralized a little bit, and I think the Panthers will move the ball well. I don’t think Denver will be able to run the ball consistently, and that’s really the key for Denver if it wants to find a way to win.
Matchup to watch: Carolina’s offensive line versus Denver’s defensive line.