By John Cirillo
The two-week, overkill, paralysis-by-analysis period from Championship Sunday to the 50th Anniversary Super Bowl game has some media members not thinking straight.
The other day, one sportscaster called the Panthers “big favorites.” The last time I looked, six points still amounted to only a two field goal separation, not pick ‘em, but certainly not heavy favorite status over the Broncos either.
On Thursday, two others led with the fact that Snoop Dogg was in attendance covering the media availability with Peyton Manning and Cam Newton, I swear! Today, another gasbag began his critique of San Francisco by saying he doesn’t like earthquakes! What?
Anyway, on Wednesday, erstwhile veteran football scribe Ernie Palladino visited my undergraduate class at Rose Hill, and was lamenting the access that celebrity, so-called “reporters” were given for the “Big Game,” nothing but a headache for the legitimate press trying to do their jobs properly and efficiently. You would think that media accredited and covering all season long wouldn’t give these notorious star reporters any more attention than they’re already getting. Ugh!
Let’s get on to the game already, and some picks from me and a handful of Facebook friends, scribes, broadcasters and pundits.
John Cirillo (that would be me), Founder, Cirillo World Sports – Carolina, 28, Denver 16 – Cam proves too much for Peyton to put an exclamation point on an epic season.
Clifton Brown, Ravens beat reporter, NBC.com – Carolina 33, Denver 20 – A win for Peyton Manning would be a storybook climax to his career. But this is Cam Newton’s time. The Panthers are the NFL’s best team, and Newton is the league’s MVP. Both will be proven Sunday.
Rob Parker – 7 Action News/WXYZ Detroit sports anchor – Carolina 38, Denver 17 -Cam Newton will finish the job. Fans will want to see every minute of this coming-of-age Super Bowl blowout.
Josh Benaroya, college junior, University of Binghamton – Denver, 23, Carolina, 20 – Josh’s commentary appears at the end of this blog.
Ernie Palladino, WFAN.com Giants blog/author – Carolina 24, Denver 20- Loved Josh’s pick of MVP being Von Miller. Great player whose performance will go far in determining whether Peyton gets his storybook ending. Don’t think he’ll be enough, though.
Bob Heussler, WFAN Radio update anchor/Voice of Faifield Stags (WVOF) – Denver 23, Carolina 20 – My gut tells me the Panthers will win a close one…but my heart wants Denver so I will go with the Broncos.
Rich Rose -Founder, AllSport Productions – Denver 20, Carolina 17 – Defense triumphs, Denver offense does enough to win. Panthers turn the ball over three times. I like dominant defenses in the Super Bowl, and I think Wade Phillips will find a way to stop Newton when he has to. Phillips may not be Bill Belichick, but he’s pretty close – close enough in my opinion to help Denver win the game.
Lou Monaco, Programming Manager, Daily Racing Form – Denver 34, Carolina, 31 – Love both QBs, Peyton experience comes through, and we all cry and smile.
Terry Lyons – Terry Lyons Sports Marketing former NBA PR man – 76ers 49, 49ers 76
Tom Durkin – U.S. Army veteran – (Damn. Terry took my pick). Carolina 28, Denver 18 (6 field goals).
Gene Doris, Director of Athletics, Fairfield University – Carolina 31, Denver 17 – While I would love to see Peyton’s career have a story book ending, this is a bad matchup for the Broncos. True, Denver has a great defense, but they haven’t faced an offense with the weapons Carolina presents. And, the Denver offense is not based on ball control. Carolina defense is formidable and gets overlooked because of their offense. Too much Cam Newton.
Peter Schwartz, Anchor, CBS Sports Radio – Carolina, 27, Denver, 23 – I think the Carolina defense will give Peyton Manning fits, and Cam Newton will do just enough with his legs.
Marc Ernay, Sports Director/Morning Anchor 1010 WINS – Denver, 27, Carolina, 24 – Peyton rides off into the sunset #justlikeelway.
Dave Torromeo, Executive director, sports business management, Manhattanville College – Carolina, 31, Denver, 13 – Never close. Game will be a dud. Commercials and half time show will be the highlight.
Joe Pinto – Director of Pharmacy Mount Sinai Beth Israel (and long time Madison Square Garden press room supervisor) – Carolina 30, Denver 14 – Peyton is too old with no arm. Norman picks him twice. Only way Denver wins is if Cam implodes. Who is covering Greg Olsen.
Joe Healy, Former Proprietor of Runyon’s, “A New York Saloon” – Denver, 27, Carolina, 26 – A sentimental pick. Eli’s brother and his Broncos. (TI hope my great nieces and nephews in suburban Charlotte don’t see this comment).
Tony Ciuffo, SID for 23 years and play-by-play broadcaster – Denver, 23, Carolina, 20 – Super Bowl experience.
Sandy Ingber, executive chef, Grand Central Oyster Bar – Denver, 28, Carolina, 17 – Go Broncos! #1 defense rules in the ‘Big Game.’
Ray Martel, former producers WFAN Radio – Denver 24, Carolina 17 – Two TD passes for Peyton, a defensive TD strip for Von Miller, two interceptions for Talib. MVP Peyton who rides into the sunset.
Andrew Rosario, Sports correspondent, Latino Sports – Carolina 37, Denver 20 – Carolina will suffocate Peyston, and Cam will run for two TD’s and throw for more than 300 yards!
Eddie Anthony, Self Employed – Carolina 25, Denver 19 – Both teams will get a safety. As an alternate pick, the first SB overtime game, with the tie after 4 quarters in the 20s.
Josh Benaroya, college junior, University of Binghamton – Denver, 23, Carolina, 20
Josh, a straight-A student for five semesters, is one of the most knowledgeable, sports-savvy young men that I’ve met in my two decades in academia. The former Greeley High School footballer has interned during semester breaks at Cirillo World, and we’ve watched a slew of Giants and NFL games together during Big Blue’s two exhilarating Super Bowl runs. Here’s Josh’s astute game analysis, and I treaded with fear when picking against his Super Bowl selection:
By Josh Benaroya
I cannot recall a time I was left as utterly shocked as I was two years ago. The Denver Broncos quarterback had just thrown for the most touchdowns and yards than any quarterback in NFL history. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that the Broncos would win Super Bowl XLVIII in MetLife Stadium, giving Peyton his second Lombardi Trophy However, something felt off from the moment that ball flew out of Peyton’s hands and into the back of the end zone for a safety.
The rout had begun, and when it was over, I gained an infinite amount of respect for Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, while my heart bled for Manning’s Broncos. Would he ever get this chance again?
The answer was yes. About a month later, I received an alert on my phone about Denver signing cornerback Aqib Talib. Over the course of that week, Denver was as electrical in free agency as I had ever seen an NFL team by also adding DeMarcus Ware, Emmanuel Sanders and T.J. Ward to their roster. While I was still disappointed at the fact that they lost so badly just a month before, I was satisfied that Peyton was being given all of these star players to surround him. I knew he would get back to the Super Bowl the next season. It turns out I was one year off.
Super Bowl 50 features a dominant offense vs. a dominant defense just like two years ago. Yet, what makes this so interesting and so different is that now Peyton is the one with the dominant defense. I do not feel that Denver’s all-time great defensive performance against the Patriots in the AFC Championship is something that is incapable of being replicated.
All season long, the Broncos have won games because Manning/Osweiler properly managed the game offensively and their defense made plays when they needed to. Cam Newton has done amazing things this season and I continue to be impressed as he propels his Panthers towards one of the greatest seasons in NFL history. He is doing this all without his #1 wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin who missed the entire season due to injury.
Cam makes players around him better and the Panthers have become so talented on both offense and defense that it becomes an entertainment show when watching them compete. That being said, I will not make the same mistake that I made in Super Bowl XLVIII. This mistake was not that I picked the Denver Broncos, it was the fact that I picked the Denver Broncos because they had the best offense in the NFL that season.
This year, I choose to pick Denver because of their top ranked defense, which finally has a healthy Von Miller to lead them in the postseason. Carolina can put up all the numbers they want offensively up to this point, but in the Super Bowl, this game we all love becomes so different. I believe that Denver will be able to disrupt the inevitable league MVP in Cam Newton. My faith in Peyton Manning has been restored and I believe he will properly manage this game with efficient throws and timely run audibles.
If anyone can analyze Carolina’s defense and expose their vulnerability to give up big plays, it is Peyton Manning. Cam’s time will come, but Manning retires a 2-time Super Bowl Champion, largely in part due to his incredible defense.
My score: Broncos: 23, Panthers: 20; MVP: Von Miller