Now that we’re done with the useless Pro Bowl, it’s time to move on to the final piece of the puzzle that is the 2015 NFL Season, which is Super Bowl 50, and the different ways the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos approach everything about what leads up to the game.
A lot has been said of the days leading up to the game. The media attention is unlike nothing some players have ever seen, and it can go to their head. The Panthers are the younger team, with more players who have never experienced these kind of bright lights. It probably means it’s going to leave more of a mark on them, and they’ll bask in the glory of being the only teams people are talking about. The Broncos? While each player has his own way of handling the media, it’s bound to be a more business like approach. Of a team filled with guys who’ve been there, felt huge disappointment two years ago and simply want to focus on getting that ring.
Peyton Manning has always been a talkative quarterback and who knows, maybe at his age, with this possibly being his final game in the NFL, it’s more fun and relaxed than it would have been in the past. It’s his fourth trip to the Super Bowl, winning the first one and then losing two. The last loss was painful. Historic even in its one-sidedness. He’s not a good enough player to influence the result on his own, and in the interviews leading up to the game, he’s mostly been complimenting his defense, who are going to have their hands full with Cam Newton and the most potent offense in the NFL when it comes to scoring points.
With no scandal to dig into, Newton is probably going to be asked a lot about his comments regarding race and the way he celebrates on the field. For some reason, it’s wrong to be too boring (Russell Wilson often gets criticized for it) but it’s also wrong to look happy on the football field and have fun. The Panthers went 15-1 this season, they had plenty of reasons to celebrate. Does it come with arrogance? Probably, but it doesn’t hurt the NFL, and makes them even more entertaining to watch.
But at the heart of this week, beneath the glossy surface, are the tactical preparations. How the Broncos are going to try and slow down the Panthers? How does Manning avoid throwing interceptions against a team that thrives off of them which makes life for its quarterback so much easier? How do the Panthers prepare for the Broncos running game, and their ability to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback without even blitzing?
For all of the glamour and glitz in the days leading up to the big game (although it’s happening in one of the less flashy places a Super Bowl has ever taken place), it’s first and foremost about football. People love to talk about the commercials and the half time show. However, this is the National Football League and its final before the sun sets on the 2015 NFL season and maybe a career or two. The important stuff and the ones worth remembering will happen on the field.