With the AFC and NFC Championship games in the books, we finally know who will be going to Super Bowl 50 at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The Denver Broncos proved a lot of the national media wrong by beating Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, 20-18. With that win, Peyton Manning (39) will be the oldest starting Quarterback in the Super Bowl. The Broncos had a 4-loss season that landed them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and it paid off as they were able to take care of business. This will be the 8th appearance for the Broncos in the big game with their 8th visit. That ties an NFL record with 3 other teams, the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys. Denver has only won two Super Bowls (SB 32 over Green Bay in 1998 and SB 33 over Atlanta in 1999). They have lost 5 times in the Super Bowl. Peyton Manning will appear in his 4th Super Bowl of his career having won only once in his 3 previous appearances. The last time that Manning was in the biggest sporting event was in 2013 when he had a record setting season with 5,477 yards, 55 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions, but unfortunately ran into the train that was the Seattle Seahawks Defense and the “Legion of Boom,” as Seattle won their first Championship in franchise history with a 43-8 win over Denver. The Story is a little different this time around for the 18-year veteran QB as his numbers were very low and was a injury riddled season with only 10 starts, throwing for 9 TD’s and 17 interceptions. It was the Denver defense that carried this team to Santa Clara as they are the #1 ranked defense in the NFL.
The team that will be lining across from them is a team that no one predicted to have a 15-1 record after the regular season and making their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history: the Carolina Panthers. This team is sneaky talented although the whole NFL universe knows how good they are after beating down the Arizona Cardinals 49-15 in the NFC Championship game and forced 7 turnovers. The Panthers have a potential NFL MVP under center in Cam Newton who has had a tremendous year. Newton threw for 3,837 yards, 35 Touchdown passes (T-2nd) and only 10 interceptions. He is also a great running quarterback, racking up 636 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. Newton (26) will have the biggest age difference in starting quarterbacks in Super Bowl history. Also, he and Manning are the first pair of #1 overall picks to square off in the Super Bowl. Newton has been throwing the ball so well to different targets, one of them hasn’t been star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin who was out all of 2015-16 with a torn ACL. Newton is not the only bright spot on the Panthers. They have a very physical and talented defense led by Luke Kuechly and Josh Norman. The Panthers defense is ranked the 6th best overall defense in the NFL. This will definitely be a battle of the defenses.
Locals in the Super Bowl:
Denver – Center – Sam Brenner (Utah)
Carolina – Defensive Tackle – Star Lotulelei (Utah), Practice Squad Linebacker – Brian Blechen (Utah), Reserve/Future Guard – Tyler Larsen (Utah State)