Greg Cote

Greg Cote’s Super Bowl pick: Broncos defense will have final word

Denver Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) speaks to reporters in Santa Clara, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016.
Denver Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) speaks to reporters in Santa Clara, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. AP

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?

Cote’s record

Overall

Pct.

Vs. spread

Pct.

Championship round

1-1

.500

1-1

.500

Playoffs

7-3

.700

3-6-1

.350

2015 regular season

157-99

.613

121-123-12

.496

2014 regular season

167-88-1

.655

129-125-2

.508

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.

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