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Super Bowl 50: a tale of two quarterbacks

Well, football fans, the matchup for this year’s landmark 50th Super Bowl is set–and it’s a classic matchup of youth versus experience. The Carolina Panthers have five players on the roster who have previously played on Super Sunday; the Denver Broncos have a whopping 16. And then there’s the most obvious experience differential: the one between the two opposing quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Cam Newton. It’s the first time ever, if you can believe it, that a Super Bowl will have two number one draft picks facing each other; but Manning and Newton were drafted in decidedly different eras and have made their marks in different ways.

Cam Newton is looking to make history in Super Bowl 50.

Manning reinvented the pocket passer, bringing in an audible-driven style that made him essentially an on-field offensive coordinator. He heralded a new age, in which pre-snap reads would come to be an essential part of the position. He’s quite possibly about to go under center for the last time in the NFL, and he’s obliterated records while establishing himself as arguably the best quarterback of all time. He’s almost certainly the best regular season quarterback of all time, and another Super Bowl could send him off to the Hall of Fame as possibly the best of all time, period. He’s already the first quarterback to take multiple teams–the Broncos and the Indianapolis Colts–to the Super Bowl multiple times. He’s also tied with Brett Favre for the all-time lead in victories, with 199, and a win next sunday would be number 200. There’s also a middling chance that, win or lose, this is his “last rodeo,” as he suggested was a possibility in a brief postgame chat last week with Bill Belichick.

Newton, along with Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, headlines a new wave of dual-threat quarterbacks who are both legitimate pocket-passers and game-changing run threats. Until this season, Luck and especially Wilson were considered the cream of this new crop of signal-callers; but this year, Cam has taken the football world by storm. Though he set the NFL record for rookie passing yards, there were many lingering questions about his overall game–until this season. This season, Cam ran threw for 3,837 yards and 35 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions; he also ran for 636 yards and a whopping 10 touchdowns. He’s on everyone’s short list for MVP, and he’s consistently shown his growth as a pocket passer–as evidenced by his spectacular hot-read touchdown during last weekend’s beatdown of the formidable Arizona Cardinals. If Cam wins Super Bowl 50, he’ll be the third quarterback (along with Joe Montana and Joe Namath) to win the NCAA National Championship and the Super Bowl as a starter. He’ll also be the first ever to win the National Championship, the Super Bowl and the Heisman Trophy.

Peyton Manning is looking to add to his legacy.

There are other storylines in the big game, for sure, but the primary one will be the tale of two quarterbacks. The Panthers and Broncos have two of the toughest defenses in all of football this year, with line-crumbling pass rushes and elite crews of linebackers; both quarterbacks will have their work cut out for them. Will Peyton ride off into a Hall of Fame-bound sunset with a Super Bowl win and victory number 200? Or will Cam become the first to win the Triple Crown of quarterbacking, and answer his critics once and for all? Hit us up @Brackethead on Twitter and tell us what you think. You can also sound off on our Facebook page, make predictions and show the world how you’re planning to celebrate Super Sunday. Oh yeah–if you want to win prizes while you root for your team, head to gofancheer.com and download the FanCheer app so you can Play, Shout and Win!

May the brackets always bust in your favor!

The folks at FanCheer

NFL Thanksgiving recap: Favre returns home

In the first game of the day, the Detroit Lions had themselves a great day in their dome. The Lions thoroughly manhandled Mark Sanchez and the Philadelphia Eagles, to the tune of a 45-14 beatdown. Matt Stafford threw for five touchdowns after a somewhat slow beginning, and Calvin “Megatron” Johnson went off, with 93 receiving yards and three touchdown grabs. Looks like he’s healthy again, and the Lions have won three in a row.

Brett Favre returned home to Lambeau to have no. 4 retired.

Under the dome in Dallas, the second game of the day was a blowout as well. The Carolina Panthers defense got off to a quick start, pulling off two pick-sixes against the CowboysTony Romo. Then Cam Newton and the Panthers’ offense got settled in, and the Dallas defense had no answer for them. The final score was 33-14, and it was more decisive than that. The Panthers’ win was their 15th regular season win in a row, a streak which is tied for the longest by an NFC team since the merger. Meanwhile, the Cowboys lost more than a game: they lost quarterback Tony Romo again, this time for the season. Romo was sacked on the last play of the third quarter, and he landed on the same collarbone he broke earlier this season. He reportedly thought it might be broken as soon as he landed, and it seems the Cowboys just don’t have much luck this year.

The nightcap was the only close game of the night, and it came down to the wire. In a surprise turn of events, Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears came back against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, in a downpour that was at times torrential. An Eddie Lacy fumble turned the tide in the Bears’ favor, and the Bears’ defense hung on for a fourth-and-goal stop with mere seconds to go for a 17-13 win. Packers fans had a brief scare in the second half, as Rodgers took a helmet to his non-throwing elbow and was checked out by team doctors. But he returned to the game, leading his team nearly the length of the field on their last drive before coming up just short. But the real story of the night at Lambeau took place at halftime. With Packers legend Bart Starr in attendance, the Packers brought in legend Brett Favre and retired his famous number 4. The fans were manic with excitement, and the excitement hit a crescendo when Favre and Star shared a few words along with an embrace. For years to come, Packers fans will tell of where they were when Favre’s name and jersey number were officially enshrined in the original home of the Lombardi Trophy.

What are your thoughts and feelings on the legendary Brett Favre? Will the Carolina Panthers actually run the table this season? Can the New England Patriots hold serve and remain undefeated along with the Panthers? Hit us up @Brackethead on Twitter and tell us what you think. If you really want to show your stuff and win stuff while you support your team, head to www.gofancheer.com and download the app to Play, Shout and Win!

May the brackets always bust in your favor,

Brackethead & the folks at FanCheer

Two NFL undefeateds remain!

The week began with something of a thud on Thursday night, as the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans seemed to feel the effects of a short week and slick conditions. It got interesting down the stretch, but the Titans came up just short on their attempt at a comeback win–with the game ending on Marcus Mariota‘s slip and fall amidst a quickly collapsing pocket. Blake Bortles struggled for the second week in a row, as the Jags had some questionable play calls in the red zone and lousy blocking. Not a pretty picture painted by two of the NFL’s promising young quarterbacks.

Thomas Rawls had a HUGE day for the Seahawks on Sunday.

On Sunday, the first round of games held a few surprises. One thing that wasn’t a surprise was the performance of the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton, who threw for five scores in a 44-16 pounding of Kirk Cousins and the Washington team. In Philadelphia, football fans saw what might have been the biggest surprise of the week. Tampa Bay’s quarterback Jameis Winston went absolutely bonkers on the Eagles’ defense, throwing five touchdowns at the Bucs won 45-17. There was another surprise in Detroit, as Matt Stafford and the Lions beat the Oakland Raiders in the dome. David Carr and the Raiders’ potent offense couldn’t get anything going all day, and the game-winner came on a gutsy touchdown run by Stafford with minutes to go.

Elsewhere in the early round of games, a couple of matchups went right down the the wire. At Soldier Field, Jay Cutler led the Chicago Bears on a last-minute drive against the Denver Broncos defense, that ended with Jeremy Langford running into the end zone with 24 seconds to go. Unfortunately, the Bears had to go for two to tie, and Langford was stuffed at the line. The Broncos hung on, 11-15, as Brock Osweiler was solid in his first start behind center. Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons came up short in a last-second drive against the Indianapolis Colts, with Ryan’s last-second Hail Mary being picked off short of the end zone. This was another of the week’s surprises, as the Falcons continued to struggle offensively despite being on their own turf and going against a team missing QB Andrew Luck. And Tony Romo returned to the field for the Dallas Cowboys, leading them on a 24-14 win over the Miami Dolphins and proving how valuable he is to his team. The touchdown pass to wide receiver Dez Bryant was, believe it or not, their 50th touchdown as a duo.

In Baltimore, the Ravens‘ defense forced a Case Keenum fumble with .54 seconds to go…in a tie game, at the St. Louis 41. The Ravens got it to the 30 yard line, and Justin Tucker walked it off with a 47-yard field goal for a 16-13 win! It was good news/bad news for the Ravens, however, as quarterback Joe Flacco was lost for the year with a torn left ACL. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Ravens also lost running back Justin Forsett to a broken right arm. Ouch.

Cam Newton and the Panthers have made it to 10-0.

The late afternoon games were all blowouts. The Green Bay Packers got back on track in Minnesota with a dominant 30-13 win over the Vikings, although Aaron Rodgers and the offense still looked out of sync at times. The Kansas City Chiefs pounded the San Diego Chargers 33-3, and the Seattle Seahawks beat up the San Francisco 49ers 30-13. The Seahawks were led by a breakout performance by Thomas Rawls, who filled in for the injured Marshawn Lynch; Rawls had 255 combined yards from scrimmage, including 209 rushing yards and both a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown. And he’s a backup. Wow.

To cap off Sunday night, Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals faced off against Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals. Believe it or not, this game gave us the first 300-yard passer of the afternoon! It came down to a fantastic finish, as well. The two teams traded scores in the final minutes, with the Bengals kicking a game-tying field goal that looked as if it might force overtime. But Palmer and the Cardinals roared back with an impressive drive, getting to within field goal range with mere seconds left. They were about to take a knee and set up a walkoff field goal, when the Bengals were penalized for simulating the snap count: a penalty of half the distance to the goal! This turned a missable kick into a chip shot, which Chandler Catanzaro nailed. The Bengals have lost two in a row now, and the Cardinals are looking dangerous yet again.

The week ended with a big AFC East showdown between Tom Brady and the New England Patriots and Tyrod Taylor and the Buffalo Bills. It was close until about midway through the third quarter, when the Patriots pulled away for a bit; the Bills had a chance at a last-minute drive to tie the game, but Taylor’s shoulder was injured in the waning minutes and the Patriots’ defense held up just long enough for a 20-13 win.

This week brings an extra day of #FanCrazy NFL action, as three games are lined up for Thanksgiving Day! How long will the Patriots and the Panthers stay undefeated? Will the Bengals get back on track? Will Romo stay healthy and lead Dallas back into contention? Hit us up @Brackethead on Twitter and tell us what you think. If you really want to show your stuff and win stuff while you support your team, head to www.gofancheer.com and download the app to Play, Shout and Win!

May the brackets always bust in your favor,

Brackethead & the folks at FanCheer

NFC East beatdown!

Another week, NFL fans, and another round of exciting football. There were two more overtime games this week, after last week’s three–proving parity still rules in the NFL. Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos played a three-hour game of hot potato with Josh McCown and the Cleveland Browns, winning an ugly one 26-23. And in Detroit, Matt Stafford and Jay Cutler had themselves a duel. After a back-and-forth thriller, Stafford rolled to his right and launched a mortar shot to Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, putting the Lions in position for a walkoff field goal with only 2:29 left in OT! The final was 37-34, but believe it or not it was even more exciting than that sounds.

Cam Newton’s play is finally matching his celebrations.

Gang Green and the New York Jets continued their rise to prominence, thumping Washington 34-20 as QB Ryan Fitzpatrick ran one in from 18 yards out. Andy Dalton led the Cincinnati Bengals to 6-0, with a 34-21 pounding of the injury-riddled Buffalo Bills. Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins clobbered Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans 38-10, while Adrian Peterson‘s off day didn’t stop the Minnesota Vikings from beating the disappointing Kansas City Chiefs 16-10.

In the 4pm round of games, Cam Newton led  the Carolina Panthers on a daring last-minute drive against the Seattle Seahawks, hitting tight end Greg Olsen in the back of the end zone with half a minute left for their first and only lead of the game! Every time you start to wonder if Newton is really legit, he pulls out a game like this. Jimmy Graham is becoming more and more a part of the Seahawks offense, but it wasn’t enough to help them here.

On Monday night, the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles squared off for what was supposed to be an NFC East showdown. Instead it was an NFC East beatdown, as the Eagles pounded the Giants 27-7. Eli Manning and the Gmen marched down the field with ease on their first possession to take a 7-0 lead, and they didn’t score for the rest of the night as they were beaten up n every phase of the game. The Giants and Eagles are now tied at 3-3 for the divisional lead, and the playoff race remains wide open.

Who are your favorites in each divisional race? Which undefeated team will be the last one to lose its first game? Is Cam Newtown’s turnaround for real? Hit us up @Brackethead on Twitter and tell us what you think. If you really want to show your stuff and win stuff while you support your team, head to www.gofancheer.com and download the app to Play, Shout and Win!

May the brackets always bust in your favor,

Brackethead & the folks at FanCheer