Every time the Patriots are eliminated from the playoffs prior to the Super Bowl there are countless fans who claim they don't have any interest in the big game and won't even be watching. We all know this is untrue because everyone watches the Super Bowl, and an overwhelming percentage of those fans will be rooting for one team or the other.
While this year's matchup could be difficult considering it involved the team that knocked the Patriots out going against a team that is trying to go 18-1, which surely brings up some bad memories for New England fans thinking back to 2007.
So it's Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos against Cam Newton's Carolina Panthers. There's the element of it being perhaps the final game for Manning, and some might believe the feel-good nature of the coverage of a Broncos victory might be too much to bear.
Conversely Newton is the front-runner for NFL MVP honors this season and the Panthers nearly brought an unbeaten record to Santa Clara. Some might feel a Panthers title would somehow diminish the Patriots 2007 run that ended with a Super Bowl loss.
So for this week's Samsonite Make Your Case we simply ask – who ya got, Denver or Carolina?
PFW's Andy Hart says...
I'm rooting for a tribute to old-time football and that means the Panthers win behind the contributions of star middle linebacker Luke Kuechly and fullback Mike Tolbert. Some people (like Paul) believe those positions aren't as important in today's game but the Panthers are showing why teams can still win behind a strong running game and stifling defense.
Kuchley and fellow linebacker Thomas Davis spearhead the defense, and how cool is it that Davis will try to play with a broken arm? Tolbert is a big part of that running game, even as a runner at times. Cam Newton gets, and deserves, much of the credit but it's Tolbert's willingness to do the dirty work that allows Jonathan Stewart the room to run. And Tolbert might even find himself in the end zone for a touchdown or two as well.
Carolina may be flashy with their elaborate celebrations and dances, but deep down the Panthers are as old-school as it gets.
PFW's Paul Perillo says...
To be completely honest I'm fine with either one of these teams winning it all. I think Carolina has been the best and most consistent team all season and Denver has been forced to do it without their starting quarterback for a chunk of the season and still managed to secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
If this indeed proves to be Manning's swan song I have to admit it would be pretty cool to see him go out a winner. Much like his boss, John Elway, did almost 20 years ago, Manning could grab his second Lombardi Trophy and walk away a winner.
Some fans might not like that idea because somehow they feel it impacts the Brady-Manning rivalry. To me that one has long since been decided and nothing Manning could do at this point would close the gap. So if Manning happens to cobble together one final performance and the Broncos figure out a way to upset Carolina, it wouldn't be the worst Hollywood ending to his career.