Super Bowl

The Bronco's are gonna win the super bowl.

5 things that could cost the Broncos the Super Bowl

1. PEYTON MANNING



It’s hard to imagine a five-time NFL MVP being a reason for concern instead of confidence, but that’s where the 39-year-old Manning is at these days. There’s no shame in injuries and age turning him into a game manager instead of a playmaker, but how long can Manning continue to avoid the turnovers that plagued him before he was benched in Week 9? He’s thrown 78 straight passes without an interception since returning, but Carolina’s defense led the league in picks and has the pass rush to force the issue. Manning ending a Hall of Fame career with a great performance would be a fantastic story, but the odds seem to be stacked against him.


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2. FAILURE TO STICK WITH THE RUN



If Manning can’t win this thing, the running game has to, right? The Broncos feature a strong one-two punch of Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson – with Anderson being the hot back in the playoffs – but Carolina’s run defense is no slouch either, ranking fourth in yards allowed and seventh in yards per carry allowed. The going will be tough, but the Broncos don’t have a viable Plan B. Getting impatient if holes aren’t open early and putting too much pressure on Manning to pick up yards in third-and-long situations likely would be a fatal mistake.



3. AN UNEXPECTED SLIP-UP BY A DOMINANT DEFENSE



The reason we’re even still talking about Manning and the Broncos’ running game in February is because Denver’s top-ranked defense has propped up this team all season. Three of Denver’s four losses were by seven or fewer points, and it’s highly improbable the Broncos will let Carolina run up a high score. But the margin for error is small, and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton puts pressure on defenses with his ability to pass or run. Denver simply cannot afford to give up the one big play that puts it more than a touchdown behind or everything will get that much more difficult for a limited offense.



4. CHANNELING THEIR LAST SUPER BOWL EXPERIENCE


Last time around, the Broncos didn't start out too well in the Super Bowl.

Michael Zagaris / Getty Images North America


The Broncos enjoy a tremendous advantage over Carolina because most of their players have faced all of the distractions of Super Bowl week before – just two years ago, in fact. The problem is when the game came around, Denver folded quickly – starting with a safety on its first play from scrimmage. The Broncos were down 22-0 by halftime, so it won’t take much of an early slide to trigger flashbacks. Nothing would help Denver more mentally than simply scoring first.



5. BRANDON McMANUS



It stands to reason the Broncos’ best chance at victory will be in a close, low-scoring game, and that means field goals will come into play. That could be a problem for a kicker who ranked 17th in the league by making just 85.7 percent of his kicks. Denver must hope it is getting the McManus who is 7-for-7 in the playoffs and not the one who missed a field goal in four consecutive games in which he attempted one in late November and early December. He has plenty of leg but is shaky from beyond 40 yards.

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