Well, we made it! As the only Houston radio station on Radio Row all week long, the SportsRadio 610 gang arrived in San Francisco on Sunday afternoon, having endured many hardships — a shortage of Bloody Mary mix on our outbound flight, a bloodbath of a reverse slot machine tournament during our brief stopover in Las Vegas, and the inevitable pulled abdominal muscles from laughing at this guy...
But we made it, and we are your eyes and ears for Super Bowl 50. The week will all unfold in due time. For now, let's go over the key story lines for this week so that we are fully prepared over the next five days...
1. A New Day
For the past decade, we've lived in a world dominated by essentially five men — Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger. (Joe Flacco and Eli Manning have won Super Bowls, but have been far from dominant on the aggregate.) Russell Wilson deserves honorable mention, for sure. Cam Newton winning this Super Bowl would represent the announcement of the newest member of the pantheon, and he would most certainly become the favorite to threaten the multiple Super Bowl winners in this class (which is really just Brady and Big Ben). Indeed, this could be the dawning of a new day centered around Cam Newton!
2. Kubiak and Friends
Seriously, how weird is it going to be to watch Gary Kubiak with a crowd around him at Media Day asking him all of his innermost thoughts and secrets on how he guided a team (an UNDERDOG in the AFC Title Game, no less) to the Super Bowl. For Texans fans, it's going to be like watching Miley Cyrus give celibacy tips, or Donald Trump give lessons in humility. Oddly enough, this has been Kubiak's (and Wade Phillips's) finest coaching job on record. That said, it will be interesting to see how Kubiak handles any uneven play from Peyton Manning. Is there a point at which he'd bring in Brock Osweiler, and does that point exist at a juncture in the game at which it'd be too late anyway?
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3. Peyton's Walk Into the Sunset (Potentially)
Speaking of Peyton Manning, if you listen carefully to his conversation with Bill Belichick after the win over the Patriots in the AFC Title Game, he very clearly indicates that this could be his "last rodeo." How much do we believe Peyton Manning? How much will he let us in on Media Day as to what his thought process is? Is Peyton Manning more John Elway, ready to ride off into the sunset after a fantastic postseason run? Or is Peyton Manning more Brett Favre, totally unaware of when it's time to hang it up, and ready to give us retirement signals every year before being inevitably dragged off the field against his own will? For what it's worth, the odds are +500 that Peyton announces his retirement after the game.
4. Disrespect Card
Of course, the only way Peyton likely announces his retirement is if the Broncos win the football game, which, if you believe the oddsmakers, has a snowball's chance in hell of happening. The line opened at around Panthers -3.5 and has rapidly ascended to Panthers -6.5 on the strength of numerous shape bettors realizing that it's going to take an act of God for the Broncos to score more than 17 points against the Panthers without help from special teams and/or defense. If you're a Broncos fan, you'd best hope Kubiak can dial up a serious disrespect card this week.
5. Injury of the Week
Every Super Bowl has players who are banged up. We recall Gronk from a few years ago with his bum arm, or Hines Ward from seven years ago with his bum knee. This season, it's Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, who had 12 screws put into his right arm after suffering a fracture of that arm against Arizona. You will hear so goddamn much about those screws and the plate they put in as well that by Friday, you'll want to drive to San Francisco and rip Thomas Davis's arm from his torso.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.