Tomorrow, the biggest one-day sporting event in the world will take place: Super Bowl 50. Unfortunately for us here at Pats Pulpit, the game will take place without the New England Patriots, who were eliminated in the AFC Championship Game.
The Patriots, who are in great shape moving forward, are on to 2016. We are too but with the Super Bowl on the horizon, take the time to preview the NFL's title game between the AFC's Denver Broncos and the NFC's Carolina Panthers.
Super Bowl 50: Carolina Panthers at Denver Broncos
|Carolina Panthers||6:30 PM ET (CBS)||Denver Broncos|
(1st NFC South, #1 seed)
|Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA||12-4
(1st AFC West, #1 seed)
|Head Coach: Ron Rivera||Statistical Comparison||Head Coach: Gary Kubiak|
|1st (31.2/gm)||Points Offense||19th (22.2/gm)|
|6th (19.2/gm)||Points Defense||4th (18.5/gm)|
|1st (12.0/gm)||Point Differential||10th (3.7/gm)|
|1st (+20)||Turnover Differential||19th (-4)|
Road to the Super Bowl
After losing only one game during the regular season, the number one seeded Carolina Panthers rolled through the NFC's playoff race. First, the team beat the reigning conference champion Seattle Seahawks (10-6; #6 seed) 31-24, in a game that saw the Panthers take a 31-0 halftime lead. While the team was unable to put the nail in the coffin, it did enough to secure a 7-point win.
The very next week, Carolina hosted the NFC title game. Against the visiting Arizona Cardinals (13-3; #2 seed), the Panthers had another fast start and jumped to a 17-0 first-quarter-lead. The combination of a methodical offense and a stifling defense ultimately led to a 49-15 victory, giving the Panthers their second conference title after 2003.
While the Panthers' road to Super Bowl 50 was marked by stretches of dominance, the Denver Broncos' was a little more rocky. After finishing the regular season with a 12-4 record, the team hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6; #6 seed) in the Divisional Playoff Round. Due to good drive-starting position and an untimely fumble by the visitors, the Broncos advanced 23-16.
For the AFC title game, the New England Patriots (12-4; #2 seed) traveled to Denver. The game was a defensive battle, which was ultimately decided by a missed Patriots extra point. While the Broncos never looked as good as the Panthers, they played efficient, (mostly) mistake-free football to earn their record-tying eighth conference crown.
|Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton (1)||Regular Season||496||296||59.7||3837||35||10||99.2|
|Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning (18)||Regular Season||331||198||59.8||2249||9||17||67.9|
|Panthers: Jonathan Stewart (28)||Regular Season||242||989||4.1||6|
|Panthers: Cam Newton (1)||Regular Season||132||636||4.8||10|
|Panthers: Mike Tolbert (35)||Regular Season||62||256||4.1||1|
|Broncos: Ronnie Hillman (23)||Regular Season||207||563||4.2||7|
|Broncos: C.J. Anderson (22)||Regular Season||152||720||4.7||5|
|Panthers: Greg Olsen (88)||Regular Season||77||1104||14.3||7|
|Panthers: Ted Ginn Jr. (19)||Regular Season||44||739||16.8||10|
|Panthers: Jerricho Cotchery (33)||Regular Season||39||485||12.4||3|
|Broncos: Demaryius Thomas (88)||Regular Season||105||1304||12.4||6|
|Broncos: Emmanuel Sanders (10)||Regular Season||76||1135||14.9||6|
|Broncos: Owen Daniels (81)||Regular Season||46||517||11.2||3|
|Panthers: Kawann Short (99)||Regular Season||55||11.0||0||3||2|
|Panthers: Mario Addison (97)||Regular Season||19||6.0||0||0||0|
|Panthers: Kony Ealy (94)||Regular Season||32||5.0||0||0||0|
|Broncos: Derek Wolfe (95)||Regular Season||50||7.5||0||0||0|
|Broncos: Malik Jackson (97)||Regular Season||46||5.5||0||0||2|
|Broncos: Sylvester Williams (92)||Regular Season||25||2.5||0||0||0|
|Panthers: Luke Kuechly (59)||Regular Season||118||1.0||4||2||1|
|Panthers: Thomas Davis (58)||Regular Season||105||5.5||4||4||1|
|Panthers: A.J. Klein (56)||Regular Season||47||1.0||1||1||0|
|Broncos: Von Miller (58)||Regular Season||35||11.0||0||4||3|
|Broncos: DeMarcus Ware (94)||Regular Season||25||7.5||0||0||0|
|Broncos: Brandon Marshall (54)||Regular Season||101||1.5||1||2||0|
|Panthers: Kurt Coleman (20)||Regular Season||88||1.0||7||0||0|
|Panthers: Josh Norman (24)||Regular Season||56||0.0||4||3||2|
|Panthers: Roman Harper (41)||Regular Season||73||0.0||0||0||2|
|Broncos: Aqib Talib (21)||Regular Season||45||0.0||3||0||0|
|Broncos: Chris Harris Jr. (25)||Regular Season||58||0.0||2||2||0|
|Broncos: Darian Stewart (26)||Regular Season||59||0.0||1||1||2|
In 28.5 hours, the last game of the 2015 NFL season kicks off and the NFL will crown its newest champion.