By Justin Maskulinski, Assistant News Editor
The matchup is set for Super Bowl Sunday. The one seeds will collide as Peyton Manning’s Broncos take on Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers.
Both teams have stellar defenses, but the face of both franchises is undoubtedly under center.
Both Manning and Newton have led their teams to Santa Clara in very different ways.
Newton threw for 35 touchdowns and rushed for another 10 in the regular season and has not missed a beat in the playoffs.
Manning started nine games in the regular season, missing some due to injury, and threw interceptions to touchdowns in a near 2:1 ratio (17:9), according to NFL.com.
Newton and the Panthers had a near perfect season, only stumbling to their division-foe Atlanta Falcons in week 16 by a touchdown.
Manning’s Broncos came out atop the AFC thanks to efficient work from Brock Osweiler and continued excellence from the No. 1 defense in the NFL, which allowed just 199.6 passing yards per game in the regular season in an era that is dominated by passers.
Now, on to the dilemma: Who do I root for?
As a Buffalo Bills fan, I face this decision every January. Which team will I pull for in the playoffs? The last time my team played a meaningful game after week 17, I was six years old. I graduate in May (application pending) and I still don’t have a Bills playoff game in my memory.
Usually I can root for a good game in the earlier rounds, hoping the game is decided via a Hail Mary or a strong overtime drive (see the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals last round), but by the time the Super Bowl shows up, I have to pick a team.
That task is difficult this year because of how likeable both franchise faces are. On one hand you have the Sheriff, Peyton Manning, who has a great chance at a career in comedy after his playing days come to an end. On the other hand you have Cam Newton, who looks like a 6’5” little kid on the field and is clearly having the time of his life and dabbing all over the place along the way.
If you are Rosemary Plorin, the Tennessee mother who scolded Newton via a letter to the editor in the Charlotte Observer back in November for his, ‘egotism, arrogance and poor sportsmanship,’ your decision is easy: root for Manning.
If you are a normal human being who sees that Newton is having a great time and agrees that if other teams do not want him dancing, they should stop him, you’re in a pickle.
Peyton Manning is debatably the greatest regular season quarterback of all time, but his postseason stats are constantly in question. He has a 1-2 Super Bowl record and has thrown four interceptions to three touchdowns in those games. Any fan of the game would love to see Manning potentially go out on top (he’s 39).
Cam Newton is in his first Super Bowl at 26 years old. One would think this Panthers team has at least one more postseason run in them, but nothing is promised in the NFL. The team has an unbelievable amount of fun, or as Ms. Plorin calls it, ‘arrogance,’ and the amount of dabbing that would occur after the game would break the Internet.
A tie is impossible in the big game and rightfully so. Two weeks of deliberation might not be enough to choose one over the other. I’d say I’ll skip the Pro Bowl to dwell on it more, but I don’t watch that anyway.
The same question, the same super dilemma stands: Who do I root for?