Two of the NFL’s best defences this season will take centre stage in the Super Bowl, showcasing dominant players at various positions.
The prowess of the Denver Broncos is well known after they dismantled the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game a fortnight ago through constant pressure on Tom Brady.
With stalwarts like Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware and Malik Jackson crowding the line of scrimmage for Denver, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will have to be wary of a pass rush that has seven sacks in the playoffs.
The Broncos have also had more takeaways (three) than turnovers (two) in their two postseason contests, which will they’ll need to continue against Carolina. Teams that win the turnover battle in the Super Bowl are a combined 36-5.
“We always talk about turnovers,” Ware said. “If a team gets three turnovers, there is probably a 94 per cent chance you are going to win. If you get two, it’s 87 per cent and so on and so forth. We always predicate ourselves on getting turnovers because you get either a short field and score points or you are able to score points on a short field.”
On the other side, the Panthers’ defence has been the king of takeaways this year, finishing with 24 interceptions and 15 fumbles for a league-leading 39 turnovers forced.
At the core of Carolina’s unit are linebacking duo Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, who are both adept at stopping the run and dropping in coverage.
Davis was part of the effort to hold the Arizona Cardinals’ offence – which averaged 30.6 points in the regular season – to 15 points in the NFC Championship Game, but exited with a broken arm.
The injury, however, won’t keep Davis out of the Super Bowl as the linebacker will start, along with
defensive end Jared Allen who missed the NFC title game with a broken foot suffered in the first round.
Pro Bowlers Kawann Short and Josh Norman, meanwhile, lead the Panthers’ defensive line and secondary, respectively.
“What makes this defense so special is that it’s not about one man,” Davis said. “When we go out and play the game, it’s all about playing for each other. And we are truly unselfish in our approach. We just approach the game plan like we’re going to dominate.”
Denver are in search of their third Super Bowl victory in eight appearances, while Carolina can earn the franchise’s first championship after losing to New England in their only showing in 2003.
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