It is no secret that the Denver Broncos’ defense has been excellent all season, carrying their number 16th ranked offense all the way to the Super Bowl. But Cam Newton and the NFL’s No. 1 scoring offense will pose a much greater threat to the AFC Champions on Super Bowl Sunday.
While the Denver Broncos are led by the NFL’s top ranked defense and a handful of defensive stars, a few key players on offense and special teams may need to show up big to ensure that a Super Bowl parade will be coming back to Denver.
Running Backs C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman
In a subpar performance against the Patriots, Broncos’ running backs C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman failed to reach the 100 yard rushing mark combined, averaging less than 3.3 yards per carry.
While the Patriots rushing defense is no slouch, the Panthers’ defense are a whole other animal. Carolina heads into Super Bowl 50 with the third ranked rushing defense in the NFL, only allowing an average of 69 yards per game. (via www.nfl.com) If the Broncos hope to be victorious on February 7th, Hillman and Anderson need to help keep their top ranked defense fresh by having more success running on 1st and 2nd down.
Wide Receiver Emmanuel Sanders
Although Demaryius Thomas is arguably still the team’s number 1 wide receiver, Sanders could end up being Peyton Manning’s most important target in Super Bowl 50. Since Manning’s return to being the Broncos’ starting QB, Thomas has been nowhere to be found. In the two playoff victories, Thomas had only 6 catches and 52 receiving yards combined. (via espn.go.com) Meanwhile, Sanders led the team with 62 receiving yards against New England with 85 yards against Pittsburgh.
If Thomas draws the attention of Josh Norman, perhaps one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, there’s a good chance that Manning will need to depend even more on Sanders getting open.
Kicker Brandon McManus
With 14 of the Denver Broncos’ games this season being decided by less than one score, Super Bowl 50 could easily come down to Brandon McManus’ right leg. The kicker from Temple University has been perfect for Denver in the playoffs, making all seven field goal attempts and all three extra point attempts, including kicks from 51 and 52 yards out.
While kicking at Mile High has its advantages, McManus’ strong leg should not have any trouble producing touchbacks at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.
Punter Britton Colquitt
After being asked to punt the ball a total of nine times against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game, it is safe to say that Broncos’ punter Britton Colquitt may be a busy player against the Panthers. Colquitt averaged 47 yards punting last Sunday as he masterfully pinned the Patriots behind their 20 yard line a total of 4 times. (via espn.go.com)
Going against the No. 1 scoring offence, it will be very important that Colquitt flips field position and makes Cam Newton have to drive the entire length of the field against a Broncos defense that has allowed the fewest yards in the NFL.