When you talk about potential Super Bowl Most Valuable Players, most “experts” have predicted the obvious choices; Cam Newton, Peyton Manning, Luke Kuechly, and Von Miller are the popular choices for the prestige award. In the past, the National Football League has seen some unexpected MVPs that made the biggest impact on the biggest stage in sports.
Players like Malcolm Smith, formally of the Seattle Seahawks, have shocked the NFL when they pulled off incredible performances in the Super Bowl. Is there a chance we could see another dark-horse win the honor Super Bowl MVP?
Here are some of the notable candidates:
Shaq Thompson – Linebacker
Shaq Thompson is a favorite dark-horse candidate to win the Super Bowl MVP.
The rookie linebacker has played very well in a situational role since being taken in the first round in last season’s NFL Draft. Thompson finished the regular season with 50 tackles in a limited role. Pretty impressive.
With Thomas Davis being handicapped with a broken arm, the Panthers are going to need Thompson to play more snaps than he is accustomed too. Luckily for Carolina, Thompson actually might be an upgrade over Davis when it comes to coverage ability.
Kurt Coleman – Safety
The former “washed up” Philadelphia Eagles safety has rejuvenated his career in Carolina.
Coleman led the NFL with seven interceptions in the regular season. Coleman also had two more picks in the NFC title game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Peyton Manning and the Broncos will need to keep an eye out for Coleman when throwing the football down the field. I can picture a game winning INT for Coleman that seals the deal for an MVP-type performance.
Devin Funchess – Wide Receiver
Remember last season when Chris Matthews came out of nowhere to become one of the best players in the Super Bowl? The big receiver kept Seattle in the game with 109 yards and a touchdown.
We could see a similar performance for rookie wide receiver, Devin Funchess. Where Newton really relies on Funchess in the red zone. The Panthers often use the 6′ 5″ receiver in the slot to set up mismatches. Carolina could do that against Denver, who would have either Chris Harris or Bradley Roby in the slot.
Funchess had 473 receiving yards and five touchdowns in the regular season. He played a limited role but do not be surprised if he is the go to target today.
Also, if Ted Ginn Jr. struggles to create separation from Aqib Talib on the outside, the Panthers could use Funchess along the sidelines to allow Cam to take more chances down the field.
Brock Osweiler – Quarterback
Yes, this may open up some eyes but here is the point:
The Panthers like to get off to fast starts, as we saw in the divisional round against the Seahawks when Carolina went up by 30 in the first half.
If Peyton Manning gets caught in a shootout, he may force some throws downfield that he simply cannot get enough power into with his diminished arm. Give it three interceptions before we see Brock Osweiler come in and save the day. If the Panthers take a big lead, do not be surprised to see Osweiler come in.
Osweiler was rock solid when relieving Peyton Manning earlier in the season finishing the year with 1,967 yards and 10 touchdowns with a 61.8 completion percentage.
Do not forget, Carolina often blows big leads in the second half. Just look back at the New York Giants and Seahawks matchup for reassurance.
Osweiler could be a Super Bowl hero for Denver, that is if Manning struggles.
Owen Daniels – Tight End
Daniels has become the go to target for Peyton Manning in the passing game.
The tight end had one of his best seasons surpassing 500 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season.
If there is one mismatch the Broncos can exploit against the Panthers defense, it may be Daniels lined up against injured Thomas Davis.
Daniels could have a few touchdowns in this game, including a possible game-winner to seal MVP honors.
Shane Ray – Outside Linebacker
The first round pick out of Missouri has become a reliable reliever for Demarcus Ware and Von Miller on the league’s top defense.
Ray had a solid rookie season tallying four sacks in 14 games played.
With the speed and ability to take off at any moment that Cam Newton tucks and runs with the football, the Broncos may need the relentless Ray to chase the possible NFL MVP down if Demarcus Ware struggles to do so in his older age.
Past history has told us that if Cam Newton or Peyton Manning produce enough and win the game, the NFL will likely hand the award to either signal caller.
However, one other player may have the chance to shine in the spotlight and claim the highest honors in the biggest game.
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