’86 Chicago Bear “Super Bowl Shuffle”, meet the “Carolina Creed-Bomb”. Think photo bomb, except that the “bomber” in this case comes out of nowhere, gets right in your face, and goes full throttle Creed in all their cringe-worthy lyric glory. Panther’s linebacker Ben Jacobs is credited with birthing the creedbomb. He will magically appear in front of players and coaches and do a spot on, full rasp, Scott Stapp impression. Rolling Stone, perhaps unfairly, named Creed the worst band of the 90’s (after all, Nickelback was around back then). Nonetheless, an effective creedbomb must include Eye of the Tiger-level cheesy lyrics:

The first rule of creedbombing, according to Ben Jacobs, is “you can’t request a creedbomb…That’s not how it works. It’s got to be natural.” So, if someone suddenly invades your personal space this Sunday, go with it, and pray that they’ve yet to find the hot wings.

Peyton Manning’s free fall into parody status this season isn’t Creed level, but it’s close. He’s a shell of his former self. His season has been marked by constant interceptions, injuries, and benchings……..yes benchings. The (arguably) greatest regular season QB of all-time looked absolutely brutal during this, his likely final, regular season. Then the playoffs started, and while Peyton hasn’t been lighting it up the past few weeks, he hasn’t turned the ball over either. He’s made the necessary transition from superstar QB to “game manager”. His number one ranked NFL defense has had his back. On Sunday, Peyton will be asked to get rid of the ball quickly when he throws and lean on his running backs against a Carolina defense that’s just a tick worse than the Denver unit. If the Broncos win, Peyton won’t be the MVP of the game, but he’ll retire fittingly with a championship. This side of Walter Payton, there has never been a more sentimental favorite player to root for to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

Enter Cam Newton, super-villain. His NFL MVP 2015 season could not have been more of a polar opposite to Peyton’s. He has transformed this season from a mega-talented, sulking, underachieving enigma to a deadly accurate, teammate-inspiring leader who has (if it’s possible) played his best this season in the playoffs. The Panthers jumped all over the Seahawks and the Cardinals in their two playoff games. They looked unstoppable. If they start the Super Bowl the way they’ve started these past few weeks, it’s game over, rewind, and watch Willem DaFoe on that Snickers commercial again. It’s scheduled to lead off before game starts:

Who will win? The Panthers are favored by 5.5. Cam will get off to a fast start and get his team up early, but the Broncos defense will adjust, keeping the game close in the first half, despite an untimely interception courtesy of Mr. Manning. Newton will be human in the second half, with a turnover or two of his own, but Peyton just won’t be able to get the ball down the field enough to make Cam pay.

Prediction – from “My Own Prison” – Take the ponies and the points, but it’s the kitties by the in-your-face-inches-distance of a creedbomb, Carolina 27-23.