The Super Bowl kicks off shortly after 6:30 p.m Eastern Standard Time, Sunday Feb. 7. In this, the 50th iteration of the professional football’s version of a National Holiday, the Carolina Panthers will face off against the Denver Broncos.
Every Super Bowl has its narrative. Super Bowl’s 1-3 were about the establishment National Football league against the upstart interlopers from the American Football League. Only when Joe Willie Namath’s New York Jets took down Don Shula’s Baltimore Colts in SB III did the two leagues merge into one entity.
Super Bowls through the next three decades were about dynasties and so called “Teams of the Century.” The Pittsburgh Steelers owned the 70s. After the Miami Dolphins scored championships early in the decade the Steel Curtain won in the Super Bowls following the ’74-’75-’78-and ’79 seasons.
The San Francisco 49ers were the unquestioned Team of the 80s. The Niners squashed all-comers following the ’81-’84-’88- and ’89 seasons.
The Team of the 90s was a bit less well-defined. The Green Bay Packers, 49ers (again), Washington Redskins, and St. Louis Rams raised the Vince Lombardi trophy over the course of the decade. The Denver Broncos, with John Elway at the helm, won the last two Super Bowls of the 90s. But, most experts agree on the Dallas Cowboys as the decade’s best. The Cowboys won the Super Bowl following the ’92, ’93, and ’95 seasons.
The New England Patriots came to prominence after the turn of the 21st Century. Their three Super Bowl titles in that decade (and four overall) have blazed a shining trip for the rest of the league.
Fans looking for a team to seize control of this decade are still searching. Five different teams have won Super Bowls in the last five years. And a sixth will be crowned midfield at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. this Sunday.
But who will it be? What is the narrative for Super Bowl 50? The grizzled semi-lame armed veteran Peyton Manning, relying on guts, guile and one of the best defenses ever to play the championship game? Or brash and cocky Cam Newton, guiding the Carolina Panthers to their first ever title?
The experts seem to line up firmly behind Newton’s Panthers. Having lost only one game this season; Carolina is the safe pick. The point spread opened with Carolina a four-point favorite. That number has only climbed.
“Not so fast,” others will say. “Defense wins championships.”
Defense wins them, indeed. But, Carolina has a good defense, as well. Carolina wins a close contest. Call it 23-20.
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