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End of an era

For the past 17 season, Peyton Manning has embodied the marquee job in America’s most watched sport. The son of an NFL quarterback and the brother of another, Manning acts like a CEO on the field, coolly reading defences before dissecting them with surgical passes. Touchdowns rarely merit more than raised arms. This approach has led to a league-record five MVP awards and a Super Bowl title, however Peyton Manning leads the Denver Broncos into SB50 an injury riddled 39-year-old who will be doing whatever it takes to win what could be his final pro game of his career. In an era which has been dominated in the last 10 years by two ageing stars (Manning and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots) – Both players have dominated the headlines in both a positive but also negative light with Manning currently being investigated by the NFL for performance enhancing drug use.

Step up Cam Newton

Cam Newton, the opposing quarterback on Feb 7th is a charismatic free spirit 26-year-old who stands out even in a league filled with dazzling talents. Built like a linebacker at 6 ft. 5 in and weighing 245 lb. Newton also has the speed of a runningback. He can run past defenders, overpower them and outfox them with shrewd passes. Hall of fame quarterback Kurt Warner said “I don’t think we’ve seen a quarterback like Cam Newton and I don’t think I ever will again.” Rewriting the rules has made many people uncomfortable. A letter was published in the Charlotte Observer from a Tennessee fan following Carolina Panthers victory over the Titans expressing that Newton’s celebrations exposed kids to ‘egotism, arrogance and poor sportsmanship’ not to mention on social media, Newton is often portrayed as a ‘thug.’ But like it or not, Cam Newton is well on his way of transcending his critics. The once obscure dance move ‘Dabbing’ which he incorporates as part of his celebratory routine has since gone viral. Big brands have happily attached their wagon to this mold-breaking star. It’s reported that in 2015, Newton made at least $11 Million for companies such as Beats by Dre, Under Armour & Gatorade (a haul even on par with Manning). Sundays event – the most watched television event of the year with its high budget super bowl commercials and eagerly awaited half-time show gives Cam Newton a chance to demonstrate to the world who he is and that he is here to stay.

Denver’s deadly defence

If anything is going to stop this rising star it’s certainly not going to be his haters, it’s Denver’s league best defence which beat up Tom Brady in the AFC championship game. The Broncos have yielded the fewest yards in the NFL this season. It looks like the old saying does ring true; Defense does win championships. Although the Panthers defense (currently ranked at 6th  best in the league) is by all means not a championship wrecking statistic, 30 of the last 49 Super Bowl winners have had defences ranked in the top five in the league that season and 69% of super bowl winners had a higher-ranked defense than their opponent. Out of 14 teams with a number one ranked defense that reached the super bowl, 9 went on to win. We think defense will play a huge part in who wins or who loses on Sunday? Look out for Von Miller (Denver) and Luke Kuechly (Carolina) who are both tipped to have standout defensive performances is past games are anything to go off.