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Prisco's Picks: Week 22

 
 
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WEEK
22
 
PETE PRISCO
Senior NFL Columnist
Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and can be seen throughout the week on CBS Sports' NFL shows. When he's not watching game tape you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
MATCHUP SCORE ANALYSIS
Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016
 
Carolina
Panthers
21
When I picked the Denver Broncos to beat the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, which few did, many pushed back at me and said it was a pick because I like Peyton Manning. No, I respect Manning, but it wasn't a pick based on his play, even though I did think he would play well enough to win. The pick was made because of the Denver defense. That's why I am picking Denver again in Super Bowl 50. I think the defense, which is truly special, will get the better of the Carolina Panthers offense, which comes in as the top-scoring offense in the league. As much as I love offense, defense will win this championship. That's not to say Carolina's defense isn't good, but this Denver defense is rolling right now. Why? Pass rushers and corners, the formula for any good defense. In Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, they have the edge rushers to disrupt any offense. In Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby, they have the cover players to allow them to do a lot of different things on defense. That's something that will help give them an edge on Cam Newton. His offense, and especially his run game, is so diverse. That can put pressure on the Broncos to be less aggressive, but I doubt they will be.That's not who they are. They will be who they are, and they should be. That means Miller and Ware attacking, with Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson holding up inside, with the cover corners locking up down the field. The Carolina defense will play well too, but I think Manning will be patient and find holes in their zone. A key player to watch: Denver running back Ronnie Hillman. He can be a matchup issue in the passing game. He will be this year's Shane Vereen, who helped New England beat Seattle last year. It will be a turnover late caused by that Denver rush that proves to be the difference. They will get a late field goal off of it, then hold on to win. Maybe it will be with a sack by Miller or Ware. Or maybe it will be a pick by Harris Jr., or Talib? Then Manning will go to the podium to help pick up his second Lombardi Trophy, and then promptly tell all the haters to kiss his backside. Not an all-time great? Think again. Only this time, he will have an all-time great defense to thank for it.
Result: Denver Broncos 24, Carolina Panthers 10
Denver
Broncos
23
 
 
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