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NFL Review – Road to the Super Bowl

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Last night was the opening night of Super Bowl week. The stars of the show were out in force in San Francisco ahead of Super Bowl 50 on Sunday night. Peyton Manning and Cam Newton were the two men everyone was after, but how did they lead their teams to the biggest sporting event in the United States. Here is their “Road to the Super Bowl”.


Denver Broncos

1 – W v Broncos (19-13)

2 – W @ Chiefs (31-24)

3 – W @ Lions (24-12)

4 – W v Vikings (23-20)

5 – W @ Raiders (16-10)

6 – W @ Browns (26-23)

7 – Bye

8 – W v Packers (29-10)

The Broncos were one of five teams that went perfect through their first seven games of the season. Five of those seven wins were by one score or less. They were winning, but not in a comfortable manner.

Denver started with a home win against the Ravens in a game without an offensive TD. An INT return TD from Aqip Talib was enough to scrape win #1. Two road wins followed, against the Chiefs and the Lions, with Denver scoring twice in the last 36 seconds to take victory in Kansas City. Manning threw five TDs in the two road wins, showing some of his best form.

A late Brandon McManus FG was needed to edge past the Vikings, who picked two Manning passes, before two more road wins made it 6-0 for the Broncos. The league’s all-time passing yards leader was then picked twice by Charles Woodson in his final year, but the Broncos’ D performed well enough to give them victory in that AFC West clash. Another three INT’s from Manning saw the game against the Browns go into OT, but a McManus FG was enough to take them into their bye week with a perfect record.

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Their seventh win came against the Green Bay Packers. The Broncos’ D was once again on top form, restricting Aaron Rodgers to a career-low 77 yards in which he has completed the game. The rushing game was also coming on strong, with all three TD’s coming on the ground.


9 – L @ Colts (24-27)

10 – L v Chiefs (13-29)

11 – W @ Bears (17-15)

12 – W v Patriots (30-24)

13 – W @ Chargers (17-3)

After going 7-0, it looked like their season as beginning to unravel, losing their next two. Week 9 saw another game where Manning threw two INTs, this time at his old stomping ground in Indianapolis. They lost by three, before being heavily beaten by their divisional rivals, the Chiefs, a week later. He may have broken the league’s all time record for passing yards in Week 10, but he also threw four, yes FOUR INTs before being benched for Brock Osweiler in the third.

With Manning now injured and out for the rest of the regular season, it fell to Osweiler to lead the Broncos to the playoffs. 2 TD throws in his debut start against the Bears was just enough for victory #8 as the defence stopped a 2-pt conversion in the last minute to escape Chicago with the W. Denver then followed that with their biggest win of the season. They hosted the Patriots, and won in OT with a TD from CJ Anderson, his second of the game. That win stopped the Patriots unbeaten season, and moved the Broncos to 9-2.

An easy win over the Chargers, in which no points were scored in the second half, moved the Broncos to 10-2, and closer to an AFC playoff berth.


14 – L v Raiders (15-12)

15 – L @ Steelers (34-27)

16 – W v Bengals (20-17)

17 – W v Chargers (27-20)

However, once again, it looked like Denver would falter when it mattered most. Week 14 saw a divisional loss at home to the Raiders, with Khalil Mack sacking Osweiler five times. Too many dropped catches meant they blew their 12-0 half time lead. Despite throwing three TDs and rushing for another, Osweiler lost his second game in Pittsburgh, with the Steelers rallying from 27-13 down to win by 7. This left Denver at 10-4 with two games to go.

A battle of the back-up QBs in the battle for the AFC #1 spot saw the Broncos edge past Cincinnati in Week 16. After being 14-0 down, they came back to win with a McManus FG in OT to go to 11-4, level with the Bengals. Their final game, against the Chargers, saw Peyton Manning return from injury to replace Osweiler in the third and lead the Broncos to the victory they needed. They looked destined for the Wild Card spots (KC winning 10 straight), but Manning got them to the W which saw them take the #1 seed in the AFC thanks to the Patriots defeat in Miami.



Div – W v Steelers (23-16)

Con – W v Patriots (20-18)

To get to Super Bowl 50, the Broncos, and Peyton Manning (returning to the starting QB role), would have to get past two major foes. In the Divisional Weekend match-up against the Steelers, they exacted revenge for their Week 15 defeat. Only one TD score was needed, but it was enough to get past Ben Roethlisberger and his Pittsburgh side to reach the match-up everybody wanted.

Conference Weekend saw Manning v Brady XVII. The 17th time these two great QBs had faced each other in the NFL, and the 4th AFC Championship game. It was Manning that took the victory, thanks to the Bronco’s D, who stopped a 2-point conversion at the death to seal a 20-18 win, with the Broncos reaching the Super Bowl for the second time in three years.

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Carolina Panthers

1 – W @ Jaguars (20-9)

2 – W v Texans (17-24)

3 – W v Saints (22-27)

4 – W @ Bucs (37-23)

5 – Bye

The Panthers were everybody’s surprise package at the start of the season, with four straight wins before their bye week in Week 5. Unlike the Broncos, Carolina were scoring points, wherever and whenever they wanted.

They started with a comfortable victory in Jacksonville, with cornerback Josh Norman providing the big play, returning an INT for a TD in the third quarter. A tight win at home to the Texans followed, with Cam Newton starting his run of fantastic performances. he threw for two and ran in for another, including a somersault to finish.

Week 3 saw a win against divisional rivals New Orleans, with Newton getting the 2 through the air, 1 on the ground combination once again. Greg Olsen caught both passes in a tight victory. The defence came up big against the Bucs in Week 4, with four INTs. Josh Norman got his third of the year, returning it for a second TD in 2015, while Newton threw for another two TDs in a big win.

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6 – W @ Seahawks (27-23)

7 – W v Eagles (27-16)

8 – W v Colts (29-26)

9 – W v Packers (37-29)

10 – W @ Titans (27-10)

11 – W v Redskins (44-16)

12 – W @ Cowboys (33-14)

13 – W @ Saints (41-38)

14 – W v Falcons (38-0)

15 – W @ Giants (38-35)

The Panthers became a steam-train through the middle part of the season, winning ten straight games after their bye week to move to 14-0. Close games, high-scoring match-ups, big wins and even a shutout came in these ten games, scoring an average of 34.1 points per game.

Week 6 started the run with a close victory in Seattle, with three rushing TDs the main factor in the game. Another 27 points scored in Week 7, this time a comfortable victory against Philadelphia, with three more TDs on the ground. This victory broke a record as it was the first time in franchise history that the Panthers had gone 6-0 at the start of a season.

Close wins against the Colts and Packers came before a comfortable win over the Titans in Week 10. Newton threw for 6 TDs and rushed for another two in these three games as the Panthers moved to 9-0. They then made it 10-0 (with only the Patriots for company), with a huge victory over the Washington Redskins. Newton showed his abilities, throwing a TD pass to five different receivers (Funchess, Olsen, Ginn, Stewart, Tolbert), a career high for the Panthers QB.

Carolina then became the only team to go 11-0, and they did not look like it would ever stop. A big win in Dallas’ back yard, with two INTs returned for TDs as Romo went down with injury again. Week 13 saw what was arguably the most entertaining game of the season. Newton threw 5 TDs against the Saints in a 41-38 victory, capping it off with the game winning score with a minute to go. The game is also famous for having the first PAT blocked and returned for a 2-point score.

Week 14 saw the Panthers shut out the Falcons in a devastating display of football. Newton threw for another three TDs, including two to Ted Ginn, as Carolina clinched a first-round bye in the playoffs. A last gasp FG saw the Panthers overcome the Giants in New York, despite leading 35-7 at one point. The game will be remembered for the wrong reasons though, after Odell Beckham Jr blatantly went helmet to helmet on Josh Norman in a nasty game between the two.

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16 – L @ Falcons (13-20)

17 – W v Bucs (38-10)

Arguably the biggest shock of the season came in Week 16, when the Falcons ended the perfect run that Carolina were on. It was even more shocking as this was the team that just two weeks before had been shut out, and conceded 38 points. Julio Jones scored the game-winning TD, as the Panthers’ 18-game unbeaten streak in the regular season came to an end, falling to 14-1.

A big win against the Bucs in the final week of the season saw Carolina clinch the #1 spot in the NFC, with Cam Newton throwing for two TDs and rushing for two TDs. He also tied the record for most rushing TDs by a QB in their career. Steve Young scored 43 in 15 seasons, while Cam has hit the same mark in just a third of that time.



Div – W v Seahawks (31-24)

Con – W v Cardinals (49-15)

Two contrasting wins have seen the Panthers reach the Super Bowl. Carolina took a 31-0 lead in the first half, intercepting Russell Wilson twice, with Jonathan Stewart rushing in for two scores. However, they had to withstand a second half comeback, with Wilson leading the Seahawks to 24 unanswered points, but the Panthers just held on to a 31-24 to make Conference Weekend.

What happened that weekend, was a totally different story. The Carolina defence was on fire, forcing six turnovers from Cardinals QB Carson Palmer, who had quietly been going about being one of the best QBs in the NFL this season. He threw four INTs and fumbled it twice, while his counterpart, Newton, threw two TDs and ran for two more, as the Panthers won by 34 to reach just their second ever Super Bowl.


Super Bowl 50

It will be a good game, with the old and new generations coming together. Peyton Manning leads the old guard, the stand and throw type of QB, while Cam Newton is the all-round package, who can use his arm and his legs to get the score. Whether it is Manning’s “last rodeo” or not, it will be a good game for the neutral to see these two styles go head-to-head.

Aqib Talib Cam Newton Carolina Panthers CJ Anderson Denver Broncos Josh Norman Peyton Manning Super Bowl Ted Ginn Jr

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