By Nicholas Stix
Carson Palmer’s Arizona Cardinals didn’t bother to show up. It was like watching Paul Ryan. Mitch McConnell, and the Republican Party going up against the John Doe calling himself “Barack Obama.” ‘Just tell us what you want—a first down, a TD, a turnover, an $800 billion stimulus, a $1.8 trillion tax-and-spend bill? You got it.
As in recent regular season and playoff games against the Giants and Seahawks, the Panthers got out a massive early lead, but unlike in those games, the Cardinals failed to mount a furious comeback. Cardinals QB Carson Palmer threw four interceptions, including a pick six late in the fourth quarter, and fumbled once, in addition to two other Arizona fumbles, for seven turnovers, to only one for Carolina.
On February 7, the Panthers’ high-powered offense will face the Broncos’ top-ranked defense. Often, great defenses shut down great offenses, e.g., the Steelers’ four 1970s victories, and Tampa Bay’s defensive-keyed, 48-21 rout over Oakland in 2003, and Seattle’s 43-8 rout of Manning’s Broncos in 2014, but four defensive-oriented Minnesota Vikings teams went down to defeat, so the rule is, there is no rule.
There will be two main subtexts to Super Bowl 50: The passing of the torch, and race war.
The game will pit young buck Cam Newton against old goat Peyton Manning who, at 39, will set a new record for the oldest starting Super Bowl quarterback, breaking Broncos hall-of-famer John Elway’s previous record of 38, set in the Broncos’ victory over the Atlanta Falcons in 1998. And there will be the racial subtext, which everyone will think about, but few will mention. Cam Newton is the Great Black Hope, whom racists hope is part of a wave of black quarterbacks to wash away white men as NFL signal callers. Meanwhile, for millions of Americans, white and black, Peyton Manning will symbolize white America.
If Denver’s defense plays the way it played against New England today, it will beat the Panthers the way it did the Patriots today. However, that is unlikely, just as it is highly unlikely that the Panthers will play the way they did against the Cardinals. Otherwise, I make no predictions.