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Broncos, Panthers miss playoffs after Super Bowl 50

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  • By Mark E. Ortega NFL.com
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It's never easy to find your way back into a Super Bowl. But for both the Broncos and Panthers, they won't even get the chance after both were eliminated from contention in Week 16.

Denver had an outside chance at making the playoffs entering Sunday, but their hopes were dashed by a crushing defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs. Carolina's slim odds also came to an end after the Panthers lost to the Falcons.

It marks the first time since 2003 that both Super Bowl squads failed to make the playoffs the following season. That year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 7-9 and the Oakland Raiders sputtered to a 4-12 record after meeting in Super Bowl XXXVII. This year marks only the fifth time in the modern era this has happened.

The Broncos got off to a 4-0 start this season and seemed poised to return to the playoffs despite Trevor Siemian taking over for a retired Peyton Manning at quarterback. While the defense still played at a high level, the offense failed to carry its end of the bargain. Siemian was solid if not unspectacular, but the team's lack of a running game following C.J. Anderson's season-ending injury in Week 7 and on-going line struggles hurt them down the stretch. DeMarcus Ware also missed early season games due to injury and coach Gary Kubiak even missed one due to issues surrounding complex migraines.

After notching 15 wins last year, the Panthers were unable to get on track in 2016. Cam Newton was beaten up week after week by opposing defenses, starting with that loss to the Broncos in Week 1. The unexpected jettisoning of top cornerback Josh Norman factored into the defense's struggles, and Carolina was unable to overcome a 1-5 start. Newton followed his MVP campaign with what has to be considered his worst season since his rookie year.

The good news for fans of both teams is they've still got good nucleuses to work with in hopes of returning to title contention in 2017.

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