It's fake, you know. That sun tan. The white around the eyes gives him away. The opinion does the rest.">
It's fake, you know. That sun tan. The white around the eyes gives him away. The opinion does the rest.">

Wexell: Super Bowl prediction

Aw, there he goes again. "You can get a quarterback anywhere," said the guy on TV with the sun tan.<br><br> It's fake, you know. That sun tan. The white around the eyes gives him away. The opinion does the rest.

"Look at the two quarterbacks in the Super Bowl," he said. "I rest my case."

Rest it then because nothing will change the fact that quarterback is the most important position in the entire kingdom of sport.

Recently, the so-called "game managers" have won Super Bowls, and New England's Tom Brady is alleged to be one example. That's the perception, anyway. But let's not diminish the importance of this position. That is to fall for anything. The Super Bowl, I predict, will prove me correct.

The New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers are primarily defensive teams. Carolina has the best front four in the NFL and New England can claim the best overall pass defense. The Patriots allow a passer rating of 56.2, lowest in the league. The Panthers are 11th at 74.8.

Neither defense will give up much on the ground. Both teams have given up 3.8 yards per carry the last five games. Against six common opponents, the Panthers allowed 3.7 per carry and the Pats allowed 3.4.

The Panthers, though, can be deemed more physical at the line of scrimmage because of their running game. Against common opponents, the Panthers averaged 4.1 per carry, whereas the Patriots checked in at a lowly 3.2. The hidden vigorish here might be Pats' tailback Antowain Smith, who looked quicker in the AFC Championship Game than he has all year.

Then again, Smith was running against the Cover-2 Colts.

Not that the Panthers have run through the '85 Bears. The Panthers' Davis popped his quad in the NFC semifinals against the soft St. Louis Rams. He was able to return in a limited capacity against the cheesy Philadelphia Eagles.

If it's hidden vigorish you're looking for on the Carolina said, how about WR Steve Smith? He's been held to 26 yards in each of the last two games, but caught 5 for 135 against the stingy Dallas Cowboys.

Speaking of stingy there's the Panthers' pass defense of late. Since rookie Ricky Manning has replaced Terry Cousin at cornerback, the Panthers are allowing fewer yards per catch than the sticky Patriots.

Sticky. Both teams have sticky defenses. The Patriots' defense is perhaps stickier, particularly in the red zone. They rank fourth in percentage of touchdowns allowed while the Panthers are 14th.

That leads us to the big question, the crux of the matter in this game: How will the Panthers score touchdowns against the Patriots?

Not by running the ball. Not against the Patriots. No, QB Jake Delhomme will have to do it. He'll have to play better than the acceptable "game manager" version that was enough to beat an overrated trio of NFC teams.

That's what it will come down to in the Super Bowl. Which quarterback can become more than a game manager? The reputation of the position is at stake.

New England, 20-9.

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