Punch Drunk Wonderland

5 Reasons Why the Broncos Will Win Super Bowl 50

2012, Peyton Manning, Broncos, MVP, Super Bowl

Via our friends at numberFire.

The mecca of all sports days is nearly upon us. With Super Bowl 50 rapidly approaching, we are reminded of the many traditions we embark upon this time of year: wings, live tweeting commercials, wings, elaborate halftime performances, square pools, and of course, wings.

One other item of tradition, lest we forget, is analyzing the game from every imaginable angle. The NFL gives us two weeks to examine one game, and writers and analysts take advantage of every moment.

The Denver Broncos are 5.5- or 6-point underdogs, depending on where you look. Does that mean they can’t win? Of course not. In fact, four of the last five Super Bowl underdogs ended up hoisting the Lombardi Trophy when the clock hit 00:00.

While the opening line has moved in a way that suggests the heavy money is currently backing Carolina, Denver has plenty of factors in their favor.

Today, we’re going to look specifically at the Denver Broncos and pinpoint five reasons they can win Super Bowl 50.

The Pass Rush

If you watched the AFC Championship, you undoubtedly saw Tom Brady being hit relentlessly by the Denver Broncos pass rush: 23 times on 60 dropbacks to be exact, which was, by far, the most Brady had been hit in a game this season.

Now, Cam Newton is a much different player than Brady. Whereas Brady is generally a statue in the pocket, Newton is more like an elusive freight train.

That said, the Denver front seven matches up beautifully with the Carolina offensive line. DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller will pose immediate problems for offensive tackles Michael Oher and Mike Remmers.

Although Carolina is one of the run heaviest teams in the league (their 1.02 pass to run ratio was second, behind only Buffalo), they will dial up their share of pass plays. With tight end Greg Olsen unlikely to remain in as a blocker, Newton could quickly find himself under immense pressure, unlike anything else he has faced this season.

Specifically, the Panthers only faced two top-10 pass rushing teams this season: Houston in Week 2 and Green Bay in Week 9. Newton fared well in both games, but he recorded completion percentages of only 48.6 and 50, respectively.

Last week, the Broncos held Brady to a 48.2 percent completion rate, the lowest of his playoff career.

Denver’s pass rush will be Carolina’s toughest test of the season.

The Defensive Backfield

The Broncos appear to have a major matchup advantage when it comes to defending the Panthers’ receivers.

The defensive backfield of Aqib Talib, Chris Harris, and company is a supreme unit which has shut down nearly every opponent it has faced. As a team, Denver’s Adjusted Defensie Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) was -64.83 (negative NEPs are better when we’re analyzing defense), good for first this year. This defensive backfield is one of the reasons why the Broncos’ defense was so unbelievably dominant.

Their matchups of Ted Ginn Jr., Corey Brown, Jerricho Cotchery, and Devin Funchess suggest they have the upperhand. Their regular season Reception NEP marks ranked 30th, 69th, 59th, and 68th, respectively among wide receivers with at least 50 targets.

The ability of Denver to match up one-on-one on the outside will allow Wade Phillips to double cover Greg Olsen, spy Cam Newton, or leave an extra defender in the box to defend Carolina’s fourth-ranked rushing attack, in terms of Adjusted NEP.

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