First posted on Saturday, February 6, 2016 – As veteran NFL observer Ernie Palladino said in this post on Saturday before the game: “Loved Josh’s pick of MVP being Von Miller. Great player whose performance will go far in determining whether Peyton gets his story book ending.” Indeed.
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, having been in the classroom at Fordham, NYU, and as media consultant for Fairfield athletics. Josh is former Greeley High School footballer who has interned during semester breaks at Cirillo World, and we’ve watched a slew of Giants and NFL games during Big Blue’s two exhilarating Super Bowl runs, and thereafter. 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
Editor’s Note: Well done! Young Mr. Benaroya’s crystal ball, crystal clear analysis ranked among top veteran NFL analysts, and only at age 20.