The 2016 Super Bowl matchup isn’t one that many people predicted at the start of the season, but it shouldn’t be that surprising when looking at the numbers. The Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos both entered the postseason as the No.1 seeds in their respective conferences, ranking near the top of the league in some of the most important categories.
Cam Newton had the best season of his career, giving the Panthers their best offense in franchise history. But the team’s defense deserves nearly as much credit for losing just one game, ranking in the top six in both yards and points allowed.
Denver’s offense has struggled with inconsistent play from Peyton Manning and backup quarterback Brock Osweiler, but the unit has overachieved to reach the Super Bowl. Defensively, the Broncos have among the most talent-rich squads the NFL has seen in recent years, and it’s the top reason why they have a chance to pull off the upset as a significant underdog.
There are plenty of interesting stats that make Sunday’s game an intriguing Super Bowl matchup.
- Carolina leads the NFL with 31.3 points per game, and Denver ranks 19th with 22.2 points per game.
- Denver’s offense has averaged 20 points per game against the three toughest defenses they’ve faced (Kansas City, Minnesota, Cincinnati) while Carolina’s offense has scored 29.3 points per game against the three best defenses on their schedule (Seattle, Arizona, Houston).
- Peyton Manning hasn’t thrown a fourth-quarter touchdown in his last four games.
- Cam Newton has thrown just two interceptions in the last 10 games.
- Carolina has scored at least 27 points in 15 of their last 16 games, and Denver has only allowed 27 points or more three times this season.
- Carolina's defense leads the NFL in interceptions. Manning, who missed six games, finished the regular season with the second-most interceptions (17).
- Denver is 9-0 this season when rushing for 105 yards or more, going 1-4 in their last five games when failing to reach that total.
- Carolina is 5-0 against Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks this season.
- Newton ranks fourth in passer rating, and Denver has gotten wins against all 10 of the top-20 rated passers they’ve faced this season.
- Denver leads the NFL in sacks, and Newton has been sacked twice in the playoffs.