As PR/social media/content creation pros, we’re all natural born storytellers at Matter.
During these two weeks preceding the Super Bowl, there is a huge vacuum to fill on the airwaves, on sports (and now more than ever) entertainment blogs, newspapers, magazines, websites, etc. So we are here to help. Inspired perhaps by the song “88 Lines About 44 Women” here are “25 Storylines about Super Bowl 50” – some we fully expect to see and a few we would like to.
- Peyton Manning vs. Cam Newton – Yes, quarterbacks simply get too much of the glory and the blame in these games. Also, QBs are never on the field at the same time, but the “wily old vet” versus the young buck is always a compelling discussion thread and this one is already on full throttle.
- Tennessee vs. Auburn – No matter how long guys are in the NFL they still love their alma maters and they love to trash talk. This SEC rivalry isn’t the strongest right now, but it does add to the intrigue. It’s one more layer to storyline one, SEC East (Manning’s Vols) vs. SEC West (Newton’s Tigers).
- Rest for the Wicked? – How much will a week’s rest help Manning’s ailing right arm? He has trouble hitting the 20-yard out play with regularity and if last Sunday is any indication, he’ll fade in the second half and the dying quail throws will emerge.
- Under PRESSure – Why has the national media essentially ignored the Manning-HGH issue? We seem to remember another big-time QB getting hammered in the media at this time last year and wonder why Peyton gets a free pass. Where’s Michael Lewis when we need a real investigative journalist? Will DeadSpin, Bleacher Report or even TMZ Sports uncover some new sources and use the eve of the game to break open a new element to this HGH story?
- Singing the Unsung’s Praises – In big games, big players make big plays, or so goes the cliché. But it is not always the household name that does so in the Super Bowl. What do Malcolm Butler, J.R. Redmond, Jack Squierek, and David Tyree have in common? What lesser-known player steps up with a huge interception, blocked kick, fumble recovery or touchdown to turn the tide? It’s one of the better sub-plots to follow.
- Coaching Matters – Nether Gary Kubiak nor Ron Rivera are mentioned as the top minds in the game today and neither has coached in a Super Bowl. Yet, both are respected and have been to Super Bowls as players or assistant coaches. Who has the edge and how much does coaching matter on this big stage? Just ask Pete Carroll or his offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
- Net Neutrality – Pats fans know all too well how much of an impact the raucous Denver crowd had on the AFC Championship game. What impact does the neutral site have on this game and whose team will “travel better”? This one would appear to be a toss-up.
- Arrested Developments – Unfortunately, boys will be boys and trouble can easily be found, during an off-week and all its distractions. Hello Chandler Jones? Which player will get arrested or do something dumb to earn a little time on the pine or worse, a suspension?
- Wild Horses – The Denver running game was largely bottled up by The Patriots in the AFC Championship game. Yet, it is a strength of the Kubiak offense. Can Ronnie Hillman and CJ Anderson run through or around the Panther D in the big game? Expect more from these two even though Carolina had the third-best run defense (69 yards allowed this year.
- Gospel of Luke – Former BC linebacker Luke Kuechly is an underrated superstar who doesn’t get the national attention he deserves despite being among the elite at his position. That changes Sunday at about 9 PM EST.
- Dancing and Dabbing – Newton seems to have cornered the market on dabbing this year in the NFL but if Manning rumbles for a TD run, might he show off his moves? Let’s hope not. And it says here Newton will and should show his emotions after scoring. It’s entertainment, folks.
- Will Coldplay Bring the Heat? – Nothing will ever top U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” tribute to 9/11 victims in the 2002 Super Bowl in New Orleans (Pats win over Rams) but Chris Martin and the boys should definitely outdo some of the underwhelming recent Super gigs (Madonna? Please, Beyoncé, etc.)
- All-Points Bulletin – “Bulletin board material” is eschewed by our beloved Patriots, but someone on Denver or Carolina is bound to say something to a reporter or let loose on twitter or Instagram that they will regret. Who will it be and will it backfire?
- Turnovers Tell the Tale – Carson Palmer had more turnovers than a bakery vs. Carolina last Sunday and he had a helluva year for the Cards. How does that bode for Manning? Good news for Denver fans is Hilllman and Anderson protect the ball.
- Strength vs. Strength – Irresistible forces (Newton, Jonathan Stewart, Greg Hardy) vs. immovable objects (Von Miller, Derek Wolfe, DeMarcus Ware). Something has to give. Those battles could be epic.
- Old Vs. New (Chapter 1) – Denver has had an NFL team (AFL actually back then) since 1959 and this is the Broncos’ fourth Super Bowl appearance; upstart Carolina did not debut until 1996. Their only other Super Bowl appearance came in 2004 against… you guessed it, New England and the Pats prevailed 32-29 in a nail biter.
- The Zebra Watch – All season long the NFL refs have been in a word, awful. Inconsistency has been their only consistency and in several cases, blown calls have directly affected out comes of big games. To their credit, the officiating crews in the playoffs this year have been pretty good; very good in fact in the Championship rounds. If they are not the story, that will be a story. Let ‘em play.
- What Happens in Vegas – Carolina is a currently a 3.5 favorite. That sounds really low considering the beat down they gave Arizona. Where will the smart money be going? One man’s vote is Carolina and the over. But the fan in me is looking for the proverbial “close enough to keep it interesting.”
- Close Encounters – The past two decades have produced a number of Super Blow Outs including two Denver appearances (2014 and 1990). Can Denver keep it close? Will Carolina start slow and then start to tense up? Who wins this one if it comes down to the fourth quarter or OT?
- Doubting Thomas – Denver’s big tight end Demaryius Thomas is a physical specimen whose inconsistent play, especially in big games, is puzzling, if not downright frustrating to Broncos fans. If he steps up and makes a few big catches, particularly in the Red Zone, Denver has a chance.
- Mad Men and Ad Men – From an advertising standpoint, which brand will steal the show and have everyone talking during and after the game? Will the best ads trend old school and actually launch on the CBS broadcast or might we see something first on Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere. Who’s likely to kick off killer creative – GEICO? Bud Light? Go Daddy? Nationwide? Under Armour?
- Peyton’s Place – Often derided – especially here in New England – for a sub-par post-season record and “only” one ring, Manning can pen the ultimate script to the ending of a stellar career with a win – just like his boss, John Elway.
- New Nationwide Jingles – Speaking of Nationwide, we all know the “chicken parm you taste so good” jingle but it’s getting a bit long in the tooth. Here are a few that might be suitable replacement. Peyton wants to win one more. Cam Newton’s a football God. Hope we get a decent game. Wonder who will this one?
- Old vs. New (Chapter 2) – Does anyone care about DraftKings and FanDuel for the rest of the year? Or are the fantasy sites taking a back seat to the good old fashioned office and bar-room pools where you buy a square and hope for the winning score at the end of the quarter and game? One thing is for certain, that is a purely game of luck and not skill!
- Best Super Bowl Performance Ever? – There are so many qualified candidates and so many ways to judge this. Is it a team or individual award? Clutchest field goal kick? Adam Vinatieri vs. Rams in 2002. Boldest prediction that was backed up? New York Jet QB Joe Willie Namath in Super Bowl III vs. the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. Toughest running performance – Marcus Allen rambled for 191 yards on 20 carries against Washington in Super Bowl XVIII. Most dominating defense? Chicago Bears in 1985 over the then hapless Patriots. And of course the four rings won by Tom Brady and his fellow Bay Area idol Joe Montana usually top most lists.
What have we missed? What stories are you hoping to hear or read between now and kick off on Feb. 7?