This weekend will cap the 2015 NFL football season with one of television’s most watched events: the Super Bowl. The 50th edition of this great American sporting event pits Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Manning’s a veteran, having won and taken the MVP title for Super Bowl XLI as well as five Associated Press NFL MVP titles since entering the league in 1998. Cam Newton’s younger, having entered the league in 2011, but he’s got some impressive stats, too, and he’s our bet to win the MVP award this year. Fittingly, each quarterback was the first pick in the NFL draft the year they entered the league.
Because we’re huge fans of cars in addition to football, we’ve decided to turn this year’s Super Bowl into a car contest in addition to a football game. We’ve selected five critical players from each team and picked a car to represent each of those players. We’d be happy to see what you think of our picks as well as which one of each pair of cars you would select – please let us know in a comment. We hope you’ve already voted in our poll on the game itself, of course, and seen the best and worst car ads that will be shown during this year’s game. Since our local Patriots didn’t make it to the big game this year, we’ll likely be much quieter while watching it than we were last year, but we’ll certainly have a good time, and we hope you will, too.
Aqib Talib, CB | Denver Broncos
In two years with the Denver Broncos, Aqib Talib recorded 108 combined tackles, 7 interceptions, and 4 touchdowns. He’s been to three Pro-Bowls, was named Defensive Back of the Year in 2010, and was even an All-American at the University of Kansas back in 2007. Basically, Aqib Talib can do a little bit of everything in the secondary. The 2016 Subaru WRX offers all-wheel drive, 268 horsepower, and a 6-speed manual transmission. So, like Talib, the WRX can do a little bit of everything. What makes both player and car great is their versatility, so we can’t imagine a better comparison.
Josh Norman, CB | Carolina Panthers
Josh Norman plays with a chip on his shoulder. Maybe it’s because he spent his college days playing football on teal grass. Maybe it’s because he wasn’t drafted until the fifth round. Either way, Josh Norman plays an aggressive style of football. The Ford Focus RS also appears to have a bit of a chip on its shoulder. The RS arrives in America for the first time this year, and it’s showing up as an angry, nitrous-blue hatchback with all-wheel drive and 350 horses (to match its 350 lb-ft of torque). Just like Josh Norman drifting over the center of the field for another Peyton Manning interception, the Focus RS (with its “drift mode”) is prepared to race onto the U.S. enthusiast scene — at full speed.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR | Denver Broncos
Interesting that Emmanuel Sanders recently called Josh Norman a media creation, given that he’s the only player on this page with a personal website that uses his name as the domain. Sanders played in Super Bowl XLV with the Steelers and lost, but played well in the 2015 Pro Bowl after moving to the Broncos. Alfa Romeo cars looked great, but had poor reliability and sales the last time they were offered in the U.S. Fiat Chrysler would like the Alfa Romeo 4C to perform much better under new management. Sanders is smaller than Demaryius Thomas, but has plenty of quickness and gets lots of looks. The 4C is certainly smaller than the Giulia, but it’s speedy and maneuverable and has gotten huge compliments on its looks since its 2014 debut.
Ted Ginn, WR | Carolina Panthers
The Acura NSX is fast. It will do 0-60 mph in under 3 seconds and tops out at 191 mph. It employs 3 electric motors, a 3.5-liter V6, and a turbocharger that boosts up to 15.2 psi. It’s also set to retail for about $150,000. On the football field, Ted Ginn may not be hitting 60 mph (let alone 191), but he’s often the fastest player present. Likewise, his quickness and big-play ability are generally unmatched by opposing defenses. Considering his raw ability, it’s hard to imagine Ginn as anything less than an All-Pro-caliber wide receiver. However, if he has one limitation, it’s his tendency to drop passes. The NSX has an impressive legacy, and Acura’s reputation as an enthusiast-focused company will be measured by its success. Let’s hope it doesn’t drop the ball.
Demaryius Thomas, WR | Denver Broncos
In the last few years, Demaryius Thomas has risen to become one of the best players in the NFL, though he isn’t often mentioned in the same breath as the “top-tier” wide receivers (Antonio Brown/Dez Bryant/Julio Jones) in the league. The Alfa Romeo Giulia can certainly relate as it enters the entry-luxury sports sedan market. Though it definitely competes with the best in the market, people already seem to be overlooking it when discussing the likes of the BMW 3 Series, Lexus IS 350, or Cadillac ATS. But the Ferrari-derived engine that powers the Giulia Quadrifoglio can compete head-to-head with any other performance-oriented sports sedan out there. And the Giulia is just getting started, giving it many more years to cultivate its legacy. Likewise, Thomas is still a young player, and has plenty of time left for people to start comparing him with the big names.
Greg Olsen, TE | Carolina Panthers
It has gone relatively unnoticed that Greg Olsen has consistently been the most reliable person on Carolina’s offense. Stoic and understated in a field of more outgoing personalities, Olsen’s size and deceptive speed have earned him a spot among the top tight ends. Over the last few seasons, he has certainly built himself a legacy on his dependability (which Cam Newton has relied on more than a couple times in the past). Essentially, Greg Olsen is the Chrysler 300 of football players. The 300, though it may have been around a bit longer than Olsen, has certainly earned a reputation for itself while contending in the full-size sedan market year after year. Both Olsen and the 300 will continue to build on their legacy in the coming years, but a Super Bowl victory here would definitely help Olsen’s. The 300 might already be a first-ballot HOF lock.
Von Miller, OLB | Denver Broncos
Von Miller is looking to cap off a career season by continuing to be the biggest impact player on the field. Only in his fifth season, the second overall pick of the 2011 draft is expecting to turn his consistent success into some big money, and could become one of the more expensive defensive players in the league. But his vicious speed, coupled with his size and power, will certainly make the money worthwhile. It’s like buying a Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR: sure, it’s more expensive than what you’d ideally hope to pay for this position, but the power and control you get out of a vehicle this large makes for a very rare combination. Von Miller will certainly be able to channel a similar marriage of speed and power as he battles through the Carolina O-line.
Luke Kuechly, MLB | Carolina Panthers
Luke Kuechly is a beast. His versatility, speed, and toughness add to his ubiquitous presence on the field, and sometimes he’s simply able to have his way with an opposing offense. He’s like a Jeep Cherokee, whose ruggedness and capability allow it to go anywhere and handle any hazardous situation put in its way. Denver will surely throw (or likely run) whatever they can toward the Carolina D, but you’ll be certain Kuechly will adapt and make an impact. This impact play allowed him to make quite a name for himself in the New England area, and he entered the NFL as possibly the best player to come out of Boston College since Doug Flutie. Kuechly’s parallels to the Cherokee continue, as Jeep recently unveiled the New England-exclusive Cherokee Overland. The Overland promises to bring the versatility and toughness of a Cherokee in a deceivingly comfortable package.
Peyton Manning, QB | Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning is the oldest and most awarded player on this page by a significant margin, so we picked a truly classic car that’s earned plenty of accolades over its lifespan to represent him. Manning arrived dramatically as the first pick of the ’98 draft, while the Chevrolet Corvette was designed as a show car for the Motorama exhibit at the 1953 New York Auto Show, but generated so much interest that GM decided to build it. Manning has a younger brother, Eli, who’s also a great player (and who won a Corvette as MVP of Super Bowl XLVI). Chevrolet’s Camaro is younger than the Corvette, but cut from very similar cloth and also a real threat on the track. The Corvette has evolved quite a bit from its debut version, but is still recognizable. Manning plays for a different team than when he started, but he and his game still look pretty familiar.
Cam Newton, QB | Carolina Panthers
Audi’s decision to enter the exotic supercar market back in 2006 yielded an interesting result. Sure, it was fast and stylish, but with its Quattro all-wheel-drive system, adaptive suspension, ride control, and a nearly 24-gallon fuel tank, the original R8 was surprisingly livable, too. With 610-hp, the 2017 Audi R8 V10+ is now expected to take that same versatility and give it a potent shot in the arm. Cam Newton also had a good rookie year, showing he could pass (he threw for 422 yards during his first game) as well as he could run (706 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground). Like the R8, it looks like Cam has taken another step forward. He is literally good at everything — he’s fast, has a huge arm, is incredibly smart, and will be the new standard for franchise quarterbacks (once Brady hangs up his cleats, of course).
What other NFL players remind you of a specific car?
–John Harrington, Matt Smith, and Steve Halloran
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