Super Bowl 50 is only a few days away. Unfortunately for Philadelphia Eagles fans it's another year where the Birds aren't in the big game. But chances are you'll be watching anyway so it's time to figure out your rooting interest if you haven't already. Which side should you take: Denver Broncos or Carolina Panthers? Let's take a look.
The Broncos are a weird team. They have one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game on their roster in Peyton Manning but he's hardly been himself this season. Manning has been fortunate to have the NFL's best defense as rated by Football Outsiders. The Broncos have been able to win games, like they did in the AFC Championship, by Manning merely not being a total liability and the defense stepping up to shut down opposing offenses. Denver's entire defense is excellent but the pass rush is what really stands out. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is really good at his job.
So if you're a fan of really good defenses, the Broncos seem like a team you can root for. Or maybe you just want to see Manning get a ring so he'll retire going out on top. Do you really want Giants quarterback Eli Manning (two Super Bowl rings) to have more championships than the brother who is better than him?
I think it's hard for Eagles fans to work up a lot of hate for the Broncos since they're out of conference. Plus Denver has a number of former Eagles players on their roster, including left guard Evan Mathis. Mathis was always a fan favorite before getting cut. He's a fun personality and a good guy. It'd be cool to see him get a ring. I'm not just saying this because he follows me on Twitter and might be reading this. (He's probably not reading this.)
The Broncos are the underdog in this game. If you're a fan of the underdog, there you go.
The Panthers were one game away from having an undefeated season. They're a juggernaut. The offense is led by Cam Newton, who is the NFL's MVP. He's such a weapon as both a passer and a runner. His charismatic personality annoys some people but you'd be lying if you said you wouldn't like to have him on your favorite team. The combination of Newton and Carolina's strong running game can be too much for some defenses to handle.
Speaking of defense, the Panthers are pretty good at that as well. Former Eagles defensive coordinator gets a lot of credit (deserved or not) for how Carolina's defense has performed. Defensive minded head coach Ron Rivera has his guys playing well week in and week out. There's also just a lot of talent on that side of the ball. The front seven, which is highlighted by Luke Kuechly, is especially strong. They're going to make life rough on Manning.
The Eagles played the Panthers earlier this season and lost by a final score of 27-16. The Birds were only down five points heading into the fourth quarter, which is amazing to think considering how good the Panthers are and how not good the Eagles turned out to be.
The Panthers are a really good and fun team so that's the appeal. The case against them is that you don't want to see the likes of Kurt Coleman and McDermott get a ring. The Panthers have never won a Super Bowl, either, so Carolina winning would make the Eagles one of only 12 teams to never win a ring.
Who's your pick?