The conference championship games in the National Football League were a study in contrast. Denver and New England played a tight defensive struggle, only decided by a failed two-point conversion attempt and a subsequently failed onside kick attempt by New England. The Patriots who won last year’s Super Bowl against Seattle by a whisker, saw the whisker become ingrown this year.
The NFC championship game was a blowout and the announcement of the unquestioned arrival of the Carolina Panthers as a league power. Cam Newton led his Panthers in a rout of biblical proportions over the hapless Arizona Cardinals. Carson Palmer who achieved his first playoff victory in Arizona’s win over Green Bay in the divisional round, appeared to say, “No more for me. I’m fine.”
Apparently, Palmer mistook a trip to the Super Bowl for an offer of more cake at a birthday party. He did make a present of the football to Carolina six times, all by himself.
The Super Bowl (the 50th such renewal of hostilities between the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference) will be played Sunday, Feb. 7, at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
To gauge the perceived difference between the two teams, we look to our friends in Las Vegas. The point spread opened at Carolina -4, and has grown to -4.5 in most places. That makes sense. The Panthers looked awesome on both sides of the ball. The Broncos looked awesome on one side of the ball.
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Not to say the Panthers won’t win, but Gildshire is waiting around to see how high the spread climbs. At four (or so) we may find value with Carolina. At 7-ish we think Denver and their pass rushing superheroes may be the way to go. Anyhow, we are considering the difference in opponents played by the two Super Bowl combatants. New England is better than Arizona.
What are the storylines to watch in the next week plus? The grizzled veteran named Manning behind center for Denver versus the upstart dancing wunderkind named Newton jitterbugging for Carolina. NFL blue blood Denver versus “Where did they come from” Carolina. Old School versus New School everywhere you look.
Derek Anderson, Carolina Panthers
We will be back next week with a solid decision about which side has earned our milk money, and maybe even a Super Bowl party idea. Until then, enjoy the hype. The Super Bowl is an unofficial national holiday. There are those who say it should become an official one.
Gildshire wouldn’t object.