Squeezed in between a Puppy Bowl, a Coldplay performance, and a plethora of multi-million dollar commercials, a big football game will be played this Sunday. What’s at stake? The Lombardi Trophy and football immortality.
This year’s matchup features two teams at very different ends of the historic spectrum. On one side is the Denver Broncos, who have 456 regular season wins and eight Super Bowl appearances (two victories). They are also No. 7 on the team jersey sales chart for the 2015 NFL season, according to the DICK’S Sporting Goods Jersey Report. Their squad is led by Hall-of-Fame-bound quarterback Peyton Manning, who at 39, wields a diminished arm but extensive experience.
On the other side, we have the Carolina Panthers: a younger franchise, with 166 total regular season wins, two Super Bowl appearances (no victories), and a No. 2 rank on the 2015 team jersey sales chart. Their youthful spirit is epitomized by 26-year-old phenom quarterback Cam Newton, whose 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame is made even more intimidating by his incredible athleticism and cannon arm. Newton is poised to win his first career regular season MVP award—which seems miniscule compared to Manning’s five MVP awards.
Although the Panthers are known for their offense, their defense – led by fan-favorite linebacker Luke Kuechly (No. 2 jersey rank) and cornerback Josh Norman – is also ferocious.
The Broncos had the NFL’s No. 1 defense this year, thanks to Von Miller (No. 31 jersey rank), Shane Ray (No. 80 jersey rank), DeMarcus Ware, and a strong secondary. They’ll go head-to-head with the top-ranked Panthers offense, with Newton (No. 5 jersey rank) at the helm and favorite target, tight end Greg Olsen (No. 14 jersey rank) remaining a constant threat down the field. Olsen had 77 catches for 1,104 yards and seven touchdowns this season.
Peyton Manning (No. 11 jersey rank), who struggled this season with a 9:17 touchdown to interception ratio and just 2,249 passing yards, will need to look for wide receiver weapons, Demaryius Thomas (No. 29 jersey rank) and Emmanuel Sanders (No. 45 jersey rank).
Both Denver and Carolina have dedicated fan bases, with the Broncos (No. 1) edging out the Panthers (No. 2) in team jersey sales this week. But, the Panthers come in at No. 2 behind the New England Patriots and in front of their Super Bowl opponent Broncos (No. 7) for the season.
This weekend’s golden anniversary game should be one for the ages. Who will emerge victorious? Tune in on Sunday to find out.