I have Denver covering the spread (which is currently +6). I nailed my Warriors prediction last year. I think this game plays out one of two ways: Carolina blows Denver out. Or... Denver plays a very close game and wins or loses by a single score.
Because I'm an analytical guy I have a few advanced stats on the matchup that I think will prevent the Panthers from blowing Denver out. First and foremost: Cam Newton's average time to throw is 2.83 seconds. QBs facing the Denver defense this season have averaged 2.51 sec. Secondly: Cam Newton's passer rating is a 71.1 under pressure this season (6TD/6INT). He is has been forced to scramble 58 times, rushing 29 times for 222 yards and passing 9/29 for 1 TD and 1 INT.
This doesn't mean Cam is going to get sacked every play. This doesn't mean Cam is particularly terrible under pressure. I think all this means is that Denver is good at rushing/pressuring the quarterback and Cam Newton is fairly pedestrian when under that type of pressure. However this is just one match up. What about the coverage on the tight ends and receivers? What about the other side of the ball and special teams? How about the coaching and the game plan going into the game? How about leadership, preparation, experience, or nerves? Yeah I'm ignoring those things...
The NFL is not a perfect science - in fact, I think I'm betting a little more with my heart than with my head on this one. I really want to see long-time-Cowboy DeMarcus Ware win a ring before he retires. Not only that but the riding off into the sunset championship for Peyton Manning is too good of a narrative to pass up. Carolina will be the favorites to win and I think have had more overall support... but I think the game will play out in a close match between two defensive juggernauts.
Good luck to all the gamblers out there that will have bets on this game. Overall I hope it's an entertaining game to watch!