“If it’s the ultimate game, how come they’re playing it again next year?”
Duane Thomas – former running back for the Cowboys, Chargers, Redskins and Hawaiians (WFL).
According to legend, Thomas was overwhelmingly selected as the MVP of Superb Owl VI after the Cowboys stomped on the Dolphins for their first of five wins. But because of DT’s prickly relations with the press (basically ignoring them all season), Larry Klein of Sport magazine which presented the award, named Roger Staubach instead.
Red Rates Himself – For Conference Championship Week Red was 2-0. For the season Red is now 60-46. What money goes to Vegas stays in Vegas – unless you have Red by your side.
Your Ultimate Pick of the Week: Panthers over Broncos. This should be an interesting game. Of course, Red thought that two years ago when you had an incredible Broncos offense facing a tremendous Seahawks defense. My how the worm has turned. This one features an anemic Broncos offense going up against a very good Panthers defense. And a superb Panthers offense facing off against a world-beating Broncos defense. In the modern NFL, Red typically bets on the offense.
First, let’s consider the Broncos – who have won 11 of their 14 victories by seven points or less in the regular season and playoffs which are the most such nail biters by any team in the Superb Owl era. In other words, the Broncos have been winning by the skin of their mouth guards no thanks to the offense. Even PMS was forced to acknowledge this. “Like I’ve said from the get-go, our defense has gotten us to this point. Let’s make that very clear.” On the positive front, the Broncos have five wins against playoff teams having beat the Chiefs, Vikings, Packers, Patriots and Bengals. That is nothing short of incredible in the modern NFL. With probably the best secondary in the league, the Broncos can afford to focus on stopping the run – something they will have to do against the Panthers who happen to have a very good running back playing under center. But then there is that fairly awful offense led by the aged PMS. Last game PMS launched a bomb (maybe 40 yards in the air) against the Pats just as if to say, “I can still do this.” Well maybe so, maybe no. The Broncos have to establish a semblance of a running game to keep this one close and keep PMS from being taken off the field in a basket. CJ Anderson must break at least 2 long runs (he had one against the Stealers and one against the Pats) and the Broncos need 120 yards of rushing. With that, the excellent Panthers defense will free up some space for PMS. If it’s a close game, don’t bet against the Broncos.
Moving on to the Panthers, there is almost nothing bad to say about this team beyond the ugly home uniforms. Even that won’t be a factor since they are the visiting team on Sunday. The only real mystery is how the Falcons managed to beat them. With a defense already good enough to win a bunch of games, the Panthers added a top-ranked offense cranking out 31 points per game and never looked back. The Panthers beat three playoff teams – Texans, Packers and OTNA’s – two of whom prevailed in the PEFAPFD that were the AFC South and NFC East this season. So until the playoffs, the Panthers had not really beaten down on a good team other than the Packers – but boy did they bring down the hammer in those games. But more than any other team except perhaps the Patriots, the success of the Panthers rests on the shoulders (and legs) of one man – MVP to be Cam Newton. The Panthers rushing game is what has kept defenses honest, but it is the extraordinary playmaking ability of CN that grabs the headlines. The only real question for the Panthers is will CN somehow wilt in the spotlight. That seems improbable given his demeanor, however, he was somewhat shaky the last time he played for a championship at Auburn. If there is a second set of shoulders here it would be the very capable ones of Greg Olsen. He is clearly the second-best TE in the game with a 14.3 yards per catch average based on his ability to catch and run.
The one stat that really sticks out as the difference between these teams is the +20 turnover margin for the Panthers as opposed to the -4 margin for the Broncos. It is probably weak-kneed, trite and lame to claim that the game will come down to turnovers – except that it probably will. I do expect the Broncos defense to acquit itself respectably in this game, but the likelihood is that the Panthers get a short field at least once and stop a promising Broncos drive at least once simply because of the way the ball bounces.
Red’s record on Superb Owl bets is admittedly spotty. The Panthers giving up 6 is a lot given the Broncos record of keeping games close. The 44.5 O/U is more attractive. Red likes the under here – which means the game probably is going to OT.
Final Prediction of the Season. Carolina 24 Denver 17.