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‘Red Light Sports Ramble’ ~

Brett Favre leads the NFL Hall of Fame class for 2016. Favre was voted in on the first ballot, and becomes the 24th Green Bay Packer to be selected. The Chicago Bears lead all teams with 27 players enshrined. The class of 2016 will enshrine eight people that includes one owner, one coach, two quarterbacks (including Favre), a wide receiver, two offensive lineman, and one defensive player.

The late Ken Stabler joins Favre at the quarterback position. Stabler known as the “Snake” passed away last July from cancer. He led the Oakland Raiders to the Lombardi Trophy in 1977. Owner Edward DeBartolo Jr will also be enshrined for his contributions to the NFL. Tony Dungy became the first African-American to win a Super Bowl. Marvin Harrison still holds the single season reception record of 143 and was a member of Dungy’s Super Bowl winning team. Orlando Pace was a giant among men on the offensive line and is joined by the late Dick Stanfel who played for the Detroit Lions. With Stanfel being elected to the Hall of Fame, Packer fans may be shaking their head wondering why the great Jerry Kramer still has not received his validation. Finally, the lone defensive player elected was Kevin Greene. Greene recorded 160 sacks while playing for four teams. He started his career in 1985 with the Los Angeles Rams and ended his 15 year career in Carolina.

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‘Red Light Sports Ramble’ ~ Denver proves to be Cam Newton’s Kryptonite as Broncos claim Lombardi Trophy

The most valuable person of Super Bowl 50 may have been Wade Phillips. The Denver Broncos entered Super Bowl 50 with the number ranked unit in the NFL. The Carolina Panthers had scored 80 points in their two playoff games and had the league’s MVP running the offense. Phillips devised an aggressive game plan the pressured Newton and forced four Panther turnovers. Two Newton fumbles led to both Bronco touchdowns. The Broncos special teams and defense were critical in the 24-10 victory over the Panthers.

Peyton Manning came out of the gates looking like the Manning of old, leading the Broncos to an opening drive field goal. Manning completed four of six passes for 47 yards on the ten play drive. After trading punts, the Panthers started their second drive at their own 15. On third down, Von Miller broke the edge and instead of crushing Newton he stripped the ball. Malik Jackson pounced on the ball, in the end zone, and the Broncos took a 10-0 lead. Before the touchdown, Newton found Jerricho Cotchery over the middle, but the play was ruled incomplete after replay upheld the call.

Early in the second quarter, James Stewart vaulted into the end zone from one yard out that made the score 10-7. Jordan Norwood broke a Super Bowl record with a 61-yard punt return that gave the Broncos a first down at the Carolina 14-yard line. The Panthers defense stood tall and held the Broncos to a field goal, which made the score 13-7.

Both teams added a field goal in the second half. With 4:51 remaining and the score 16-10, the Panthers took over on their 24-yard line. Once again, Von Miller broke the edge and got his hand on the ball as Newton was cocked back and ready to throw. T.J. Ward recovered the fumble and set the Broncos up at the Panthers 4-yard line. Josh Norman was called for holding on an incomplete third-down pass that gave the Broncos a first down at the 2-yard line. C.J Anderson bullied his way to the goal line and gave the Broncos a 22-10 lead. The ensuing two-point conversion was good.

The Broncos defense secured the victory in the final minutes, and Peyton Manning received his second Lombardi Trophy. He is the first starting quarterback to win the Super Bowl with two different franchises. Von Miller was the game’s Most Valuable Player.

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Super Bowl 50 Preview

By: Kevin Cunningham, Managing Editor of Internet Content

Let me start out by saying that I’m a Tennessee Titans fan who respects Peyton Manning. Year in and year out, he would crush my Titans, but how could I hate on the guy? I couldn’t.

I, like what seems to be most of the country at this point, are in favor of Peyton going out a winner. Especially considering the former Volunteer is going against the top villain in the world, Cam Newton.

I’m under this thought of the future MVP: He played the Titans in Tennessee earlier this season and he was crushing my favorite team. He was celebrating, “Dabbing”, “Superman-ing,” you name it. It was too much.

But, you know what? If he’s succeeding at the highest level and he’s celebrating, so be it. Plenty of football players do. Aaron Rodgers, J.J. Watt, Antonio Brown – they all celebrate. Cam just does it “too much”. To stop him from celebrating, just beat him. He won’t celebrate after a loss. I guarantee it.

Would I like a Tennessee Titan showboating across the field after every first down? Absolutely not. But if you want it to stop, just stop the man. His celebrating isn’t the most outrageous thing in the world to me. Call me crazy.

Carolina Panthers vs. Denver Broncos

Finally, getting into the game, I’m going to lay out some of my opinions for both sides of the ball regarding both teams. From there, my prediction will follow.

Denver Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning. Photo Credit: YouTube.com
Denver Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning. Photo Credit: YouTube.com

Denver’s Offense

I said it at the beginning of the year, in the middle of the year, and I’ll say it again: The Denver Broncos can’t win a Super Bowl with Peyton Manning leading the way. Now, looking at that statement, I can’t say that the Broncos can’t win this game. But, my point was that Peyton’s arm strength is too weak to beat really good defenses.

Denver, with Manning as the signal-caller, doesn’t have as good of a rushing attack. That’s because defenses don’t have to worry about the deep pass. Carolina leads the league in turnovers, and has a dominating front seven. Denver won’t be able to run in this one, and Peyton isn’t beating Carolina’s secondary deep down the field.

Carolina’s Offense

Cam’s going to be the MVP, and do you want to know one of the reasons why? It’s the same exact reason why a lot of people believe Chip Kelly is an idiot or can’t coach. Remember that read option attack that gained traction in the NFL just a few years ago? Look at what the Panthers do so well on the ground. Actually, they do it better than any other team in the league. It’s the read option.

People thought it couldn’t work in the NFL. Defenses are too fast. They’ll adjust. But you know what? It’s not about being faster at the next level. The read option comes down to, well, a read by the quarterback. It often times comes down to Cam against a defensive end or linebacker.

That means, Cam against a player who isn’t as fast or as strong as him. That’s a win for Cam and Carolina’s rushing game. The read option can work. Just ask Cam. Just ask Jonathan Stewart. He’s a beneficiary as well.

Back to Carolina’s overall offense – Cam doesn’t get enough credit for making the players around him better. Ted Ginn Jr.? Jerricho Cotchery? I don’t need to say more. He is as good at ad-libbing as any other quarterback in the league. You don’t have to be Jerry Rice to get open when you have seven seconds to do it. Thank Cam.

Denver’s Defense

This is where the Broncos have a shot in this game. Everybody and their mother know this. The key to the game though, comes down to whether Denver can slow down the Panthers’ running game. If they can, it allows their front seven to pin their ears back and attack Cam. That’s what they do best.

Look at Carolina’s offensive line. Yeah, they’re good, but are Michael Oher (a player the Titans cut) and Mike Remmers going to stop guys like Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware? I don’t think so either. That’s why you can’t count Denver out. You can never count out the best defense in the league. They might not win, but they’re not giving up 35+ unless Peyton contributes to the Panthers’ cause.

There’s a reason why the top defenses in the league commonly make the Super Bowl. Total defense-wise, Seattle was, and made back-to-back trips. The state of the NFL according to the average fan is pass, pass, pass, score, score, score. But do you know what the average team in the league scored in 2015? Roughly 23 points per game. How about in 2002? About 22 points per game.

The fact is, every possession still matters. Points come at a premium, no matter the game in the NFL. If Denver’s defense can make life hell for Carolina by taking away the running game, Peyton might not have to score 30 or more. A 20-17 Denver victory shouldn’t shock anybody.

Carolina Panthers linebacker, Thomas Davis. Photo Credit: Wikipedia.org
Carolina Panthers linebacker, Thomas Davis. Photo Credit: Wikipedia.org

Carolina’s Defense

As I mentioned above, Carolina’s defense has a dominating front seven. It seems like every player is great. The narrative that this team is under-appreciated may have worked 10 weeks ago, but it doesn’t anymore. The Panthers had 10 players named to the Pro Bowl. The next highest? Seven, by Seattle, Arizona and New England.

The Panthers have talent all over the place, especially defensively. They’ll be effective in this game. There’s no doubt about it. Denver better hope they can get their running game going, which I don’t think will happen, because Peyton doesn’t scare Carolina’s defense. Peyton hasn’t turned the ball over so far this postseason. Expect that to change.

Prediction

What can actually happen in this game? A Carolina beat-down? Sure. I can see it. Peyton turns the ball over and Carolina’s offense doesn’t get slowed down. A close game, either way? Yep, I get it. Denver’s defense keeps it close and either can win it at the end, or Peyton does just enough to pull out, like I said, a 20-17 victory. But can Denver run over Carolina? That one, I can’t see happening.

Most likely, Denver’s defense will do their thing. They’ll slow down Cam and get after him. The problem is Peyton and the offense scoring enough. Again, what’s the most likely scenario? Carolina scoring more than Denver, or the Broncos edging out a close, low-scoring victory? My money’s on Carolina.

I’ll give the Panthers three scores and a couple field goals. For the Broncos, I can see two touchdowns and a couple field goals as well. You can’t predict defensive scores, and while Ted Ginn Jr. is electric on special teams, it just isn’t likely.

Carolina has been the best overall team this season. They proved it throughout the regular season and postseason. I thought it was Arizona, and I was wrong. I’m done picking against Carolina. Cam’s the MVP and their defense is elite, while leading the league in turnovers. Just don’t count out one of the top defenses we’ve ever seen in Denver.

Panthers win, 27-20