We had split success in the conference championship round, which seems like about a month ago, doesn’t it? Saw Carolina beating Arizona, but did not see Denver beating New England. At this point our preseason Super Bowl pick — Packers over Patriots — is not looking real good. It’s been a rough season overall for us here on the Friday Page, but we can exact a parting measure of redemption by nailing our SB pick to close things out. It’s a big upset, and by that I mean my picking Denver and also the likelihood I’ll be right. I put it in golf terms. My season has been a struggle to shoot bogey golf; I’m in 90s purgatory. Yes, but if I can only sink that curling 20-foot putt to end my round, I’ll be bouncing off the 18th green pumping a fist. See what I’m saying?
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SUPER BOWL 50
PANTHERS (17-1, NFC No. 1 seed) vs. BRONCOS (14-4, AFC No. 1)
Line: CAR by 5 ½
Cote’s pick: DEN 23-20
TV: 6:30 p.m. Sunday, CBS
A friend of mine who has his bookie on speed-dial loves the phrase, “The masses are asses.” He says that to explain his pet betting philosophy-hunch: That when everybody else is zigging to one team, that’s when you zag to the other. Let the lemmings herd toward the cliff; I’ll head the other way. This crossed my mind as I decided to pull the trigger on an upset in Super Bowl 50 — Denver not only covering the spread but also beating Carolina outright. That did not influence my decision, though, as much as this: I am sold on this Broncos’ defense, and I believe in it enough to think it will get the better of Cam Newton and a pretty awesome Panthers’ offense. This is a Denver D that limited Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh to 16 points in the first playoff game, and only three field goals after the first quarter. This is a Denver D that utterly frustrated Tom Brady and New England in the AFC title game, budgeting Brady to a 56.4 passer rating and under 50 percent completions and intercepting him twice. I know that Carolina’s ground attack out of the shotgun, including Newton’s run-threat, presents a challenge Brady and the Patriots did not. But I still see Denver up to that challenge. Notice I have not even mentioned Peyton Manning yet? I don’t think the Broncos will need heroics from him in what could be his final career game — not if his defense takes charge as I believe it will.
Watch for Greg Cote’s full Super Bowl prediction column on Saturday.