Before the AFC championship game, I expected NE to blow Denver out of the water. And I still think they might have had the game not been played in Denver. NE doesn’t play well here - never has.
But the near-perfect defensive scheme that the Broncos used against the Pats has given me second thoughts about their chances in the SB. If Wade Phillips is the man I think he is and has been prepping for weeks for a potential match against Carolina, he might have an equally shutdown scheme up his sleeve. The Bronco D is capable of delivering it, if he does and if they are on their game.
OTOH, there is something about that Carolina team that whispers “destiny”. With Newton, they have the invincibility of youth, that absolute, unshakeable confidence that eventually gets beat out of a team and its individual players, but which they possess in spades right now. And Luke Keuchley is the Terminator of the '10s.
It’s a classic cinematic scenario - wily old experienced vet on his last legs versus talented athletic cocky newcomer with all the tools. I hope it’s the hard-fought, hard-won game that it should be under these circumstances, and not a rollover by either team.
I do have a Manning bias, being a former Hoosier/current Coloradan, and a bit of a wily old vet myself. I’d like to see Manning go out with the glory moment. But youth must also be served, and I admire Newton for the turnaround he’s made from the sullen, friendless rookie that sat alone on the end of the bench with a towel over his head, not speaking to anyone when not on the field, that he was in his first year. He’s put on his big boy trousers (at least some of the time) and become his team’s leader. And love him or hate him, he has one helluva lot of FUN out there.