The Super Bowl match-up that everyone is talking about is the two quarterbacks (Cam Newton and Peyton Manning) against these defenses. The Panthers however, as good as Cam has been as a passer, are primarily a running team and they present a problem for any defense, even the best one in the league in Denver.
“Now, I don’t know if people really understand how creative this Carolina Panthers running game is and how difficult it is for Brian a linebacker to try to stop it right now,” said FOX Sports NFL analyst Brian Baldinger on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones show. “I see great players in this league going the wrong way all the time. The misdirection, the read option, the ghost motion, the slight of hand, the ball handling of Cam it’s tough. It’s going to be hard, I don’t care how many studs Denver has on defense. If you’re not going to the right place and you’re being fooled; all of a sudden you’re being outnumbered it’s going to be tough to stop. It’s going to be fun, it has been fun for me to show the fans.”
The expected impact players for the Broncos are outside linebackers/defensive ends Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, who terrorized Tom Brady last week in the AFC Championship. If Denver is able to get the Panthers into third down and long situations, how do the Broncos attack Cam and the Panthers offense?
“You always have Cam as a threat to take off so, sometimes you want to choke it down a bit and not go full speed, it’s not like Brady’s sitting back there,” said Baldinger. “So, you have to–you don’t want to get behind him (Cam) too many times or he will take off on you. Personally, I think Von Miller is, outside of JJ Watt, as good as there is because he can convert speed to power. He can beat you with speed, he can turn the corner, he can do all of that and he’s usually always under control. He’s unique. I would imagine that they will show a lot of max rush and drop everybody but three maybe even two sometimes. Spy Cam at times. They can spy with Von like he dropped for the interception in the last game. It’s going to be interesting, I’m really anxious to see what Wade does here. They’ve got chess pieces like you’re talking about, now how do you deploy them?”
On the other side, Peyton Manning was left for dead by many mid-season following a terrible start and a plantar fascia injury. Since returning to the line-up, Manning has been virtually mistake free with 0 interceptions and just one fumble. What has he been doing so well during this stretch run for Denver?
“Well, he still can get you into a good play out of a bad play,” said Baldinger. “He can still manipulate the play calling. He’s not turning the ball over. He’s healthier now for sure, I mean he can move, he can get underneath center, he can do some of the bootleg stuff. The only thing that’s really missing from his game, he can’t really drive the ball the way he once used to be able to drive the ball. And the other thing that’s missing is the deep ball. His timing on the deep ball is not there. Now, he’s got two weeks to work on it, sometimes even as a young player that’s the last thing to come. So if he gets one or two of those to get over the top on this defense, which can be hard, but if he gets that, it may go a long ways to determine the outcome of the game.”