Battle in the Bay

Super Bowl 50 matches each conference's top seed for the third consecutive year as the Broncos represent the AFC in going up against the NFC champion Panthers on February 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. This will be Denver’s eighth Super Bowl appearance (2-5) while Carolina is playing in its second title game (0-1).

1

No Offense: Peyton or Brock, it didn't matter. The Broncos averaged just 22.2 PPG (19th in league) in 2015 and are the second-lowest ranked offense to ever make the Super Bowl, trailing only the 2008 Steelers (21.7, 20th)

2

Keep 'em close: As the Patriots know too well, the Broncos are superior in close games. In 2015, Denver had 11 wins by seven points or less including the postseason. That's the most in a single season since 1940.

3

Super bad: Denver will be making its eighth Super Bowl appearance, tying the franchise with Dallas, New England and Pittsburgh for most in NFL history. However, they are the only team of the four to have a losing record in the Big Game (2-5).

1

Running it up: Carolina's ground game is consistently consistent. Led by Jonathan Stewart and Newton, the Panthers have rushed for 100+ yards in 31 consecutive games, including the postseason. It's the longest streak of any team since the 1974-76 Steelers (37), who won two Super Bowls.

2

Dominant defensive duo: It's hard to get through or past Kuechly and Thomas Davis. Carolina's veteran linebackers were two of just three NFL players to record 100+ tackles and four-plus interceptions this season (Kuechly: 118, 4; Davis: 105, 4).

3

15-1 and done?: The Panthers nearly pulled off a perfect season, but history says a championship is not in their future. None of the past four teams to finish 15-1 or better won the Super Bowl (Green Bay 2011, New England 2007, Pittsburgh 2004, Minnesota 1998).

 

QB Peyton Manning

The NFL's career passing leader with 71,940 yards, Manning returned from the bench in Week 17 to lead the Broncos to three consecutive wins en route to their eighth Super Bowl appearance and his fourth. He is the first quarterback to lead multiple teams to multiple Super Bowls.

LB Von Miller

The Broncos' sack leader in 2015 (11.5) broke a team postseason record with 2.5 sacks against New England in the AFC Championship Game This will be Miller's first Super Bowl appearance -- he was injured during Denver's loss in Super Bowl XLVII.

Coach Gary Kubiak

Kubiak is the first head coach to reach the Super Bowl in his first season with a franchise since Jim Caldwell in 2009. The former Broncos quarterback is 4-2 in the postseason all-time in stints as head coach with Houston and Denver. Including his playing days, this is Kubiak's fourth Super Bowl appearance, but his first as a head coach. He was also an assistant coach in three other Super Bowls.

QB Cam Newton

Newton had an MVP-caliber campaign in 2015 and he hasn't taken off the gas in the postseason. The Panthers' franchise quarterback became the only player in NFL history with 35+ pass TD and 10+ rush TD in a season. He also set the NFL record for most combined pass and rush yards in a player's first five seasons (21,470).

LB Luke Kuechly

Kuechly is the heart of Carolina's defense. The linebacker recorded four interceptions and 118 tackles in 2015, the fourth straight season he's posted 100+ tackles, and has the most tackles in the NFL since 2012 (591).

Coach Ron Rivera

Rivera is making his first trip to the Super Bowl as a head coach -- he reached two as a Bears player (1985) and defensive coordinator (2006). Rivera started 28-31-1 in his first 60 games, but has since gone 19-1. He is 3-2 in the postseason.

 
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