As a former offensive lineman, and despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I've always been a little hesitant to completely buy into the mantra that defense wins championships. It's not that I underestimate the importance of players on that side of the ball… You need only to look at Denver's last Super Bowl appearance with Peyton Manning to understand that the team with the best defense tends to have the best chance of winning an NFL Championship.
The Denver Broncos, people in sports media will say all week, had the best defense in the NFL this season. Demarcus Ware and Von Miller are as lethal a combination of pass rushers as there are in the NFL, and cornerback Chris Harris, Jr. might be the Broncos best defensive player.
With two weeks to prepare for one another, though, the Super Bowl will become a game of averages. Denver's defense may be the best in the NFL, but Carolina's defense appears custom built to battle the Broncos; Denver, having the far less mobile quarterback, will have a more difficult time dealing with Carolina's pass rush than Cam Newton, the presumptive MVP, will have evading Miller and Ware.
Cornerback Josh Norman has been spectacular all season; back in week 15, he shut down Pro Bowl receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. so effectively that Beckham eventually became agitated and targeted Norman on a crack-back play in such a fashion that he was suspended by the NFL for the following game. There's little reason to believe he won't be able keep tabs on Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas, who had the third-most drops in the NFL this season.
Effective in the AFC Championship against the Patriots, Broncos tight end Owen Daniels will be charged with evading two of the league's best linebackers in Luke Keuchly and Thomas Davis. Davis, who broke his arm in the NFC Championship, is expected to play in the Super Bowl.