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Super Bowl 50 preview: The Denver Broncos need to stick with the run game

In part three of this four part Super Bowl preview, it's all about the Denver Broncos sticking with the run game even when it seems hopeless. In the table below we have where these teams are currently performing over the last four games and where they would have ranked in the NFL for 2015.

Carolina Panthers
Sunday, February 7, 2016 - 4:25 PM MT
Denver Broncos




7.95 (5th) Pass Off. 6.69 (28th)
4.32 (10th) Rush Off. 4.58 (6th)
6.97 (11th) Pass Def. 6.11 (1st)
3.65 (5th) Rush Def. 3.54 (3rd)
17-1 Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA 14-4
NFC Champion Spread: Panthers by 6 AFC Champion
Super Bowl Previews: DT getting physical Stopping the Read/Option Broncos must run Sacking Cam

Once again, I am looking at the Carolina Panthers lone loss this season against the Atlanta Falcons. Out of all of their games, this one provides the Denver Broncos with the best possible plan of attack for taking down the high flying Panthers in Super Bowl 50.

What Gary Kubiak must do is ask Peyton Manning to turn and hand the ball off to C.J. Anderson or Ronnie Hillman over and over again. What we'll likely see is a one yard gain, a one yard loss, a two yard gain, a no gain. Then this.

This will put a strain on the Broncos to sustain longer drives as Manning will need to pick up some third and longs here and there, but there is a method to this madness.

First, running the ball eats up clock and should keep the score close. Second, it keeps the turnover feasting Panthers defense from getting those turnovers for easy score conversions for Cam Newton and that offense.

Nineteen of the Falcons twenty-four running plays in this game went for less than five yards. However, when the fourth quarter rolled around that where most of the big gains began to come through, especially on the inside.

Most of the Falcons negative rushing plays were the stretch runs to the outside. The kind that Ronnie Hillman likes. The big gaps came from the inside running lanes, which is where I think C.J. Anderson would excel greatly.

Despite that speed to contain the edges, there was one play that really stood out because it looks a lot like a play that Anderson has taken a few long runs to the house for touchdowns late in the season.

Still, a vast majority of the most successful runs by the Falcons came from the inside lanes. However, it will be critical not to lose faith in the running game as there will be stretches of the game where it just seems like the Panthers defense is dominating all facets of the rushing attack.

However, that's right around when the Panthers defense gives up a couple of huge gainers in successive plays. At least in this game they did.

Both teams were built to run the ball and both teams will win this game by running the ball effectively. Both teams also have run defenses that stone wall running plays fairly consistently, but a couple of times a game a runner breaks loose for an intermediate to big gain.

The Broncos have to trust their game plan and keep pound that square peg into the round hole until the hole becomes square. It's the kind of grind-it-out kind of mentality that this team has thrived on all season long.

The one thing that can derail everything the Broncos want to do is turning the ball over, whether its Manning throwing a pick or the running backs putting the ball on the ground, any turnover could cost them the game.