For the first time since 1985, the Super Bowl returns to the San Francisco Bay Area as Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium will serve as the host site for Super Bowl 50. This will be the first Super Bowl for Levi's Stadium, which opened in July 2014.
The 15-1 Carolina Panthers, fresh off of their 49-15 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game will tangle with the 12-4 Denver Broncos, who defeated the New England Patriots 20-18 to capture the AFC title.
The following are 10 stats you need to know for Sunday’s Super Bowl 50:
8: Super Bowl appearances for Denver
With Super Bowl 50, Denver will make its eighth appearance in the big game, tying the franchise with Dallas, New England and Pittsburgh. But Broncos’ fans have bittersweet memories about reaching the Promised Land. Since 1978, Denver has gone 2-5 in the Super Bowl, with its most-recent appearance resulting in a 43-8 loss to Seattle in Super Bowl XLVIII. The Broncos haven’t won a Super Bowl since Super Bowl XXXIII, a 34-19 victory over Atlanta. That win gave Denver back-to-back championships, as it defeated the Green Bay Packers 31-24 just one year earlier in Super Bowl XXXII.
1: Where Carolina ranks offensively and Denver ranks defensively
Denver’s defense imposed its will against New England's offensive line in the AFC Championship Game as the Broncos hit Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady 17 times, to go along with four sacks. Denver’s defense this season led the league in yards allowed per game with 283.1. In its two postseason games, Carolina was a permanent fixture in its opponents’ end zone as the Panthers posted 31 points against Seattle and 49 against Arizona. Carolina's regular-season average of 31.3 points per game led the NFL. Super Bowl 50's matchup between the top-scoring offense and stingiest defense is similar to what took place two years go. In Super Bowl XLVIII Denver’s No. 1, record-setting offense was rendered ineffective by the Seattle’s No. 1-ranked defense as the Seahawks went on to win 43-8.
18: Times the Carolina Panthers have rushed for 100 yards this season
The Panthers parted ways with all-time leading rusher DeAngelo Williams in February 2015. The move freed up $2 million in cap space, but also left Carolina with a large void in its running game. The decision hasn’t impeded Carolina’s progress in the slightest as the Panthers have eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in each of its 18 games (including playoffs) this season. Jonathan Stewart leads all Carolina rushers with 1,178 yards (8 touchdowns), Cam Newton’s 686 yards (12 TDs) on the ground rank second and Mike Tolbert checks in at third with 277 rushing yards and a score.
1: Number of teams to score 30 points on the Denver Broncos this year
Denver’s defense is among the NFL’s best when it comes to shutting down opposing offenses. This season, the Broncos’ defense yielded 30 points on just one occasion – Pittsburgh scored 34 points in Denver’s Dec. 20 Week 15 road loss to the Steelers. Carolina posted eight 30-point efforts in the regular season, and has scored 31 and 49 points in its two postseason games.
13: Age differecen between Peyton Manning and Cam Newton
Much of the narrative surrounding Super Bowl 50 has revolved around Manning’s future in the NFL as many suspect that this could possibly be the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer’s final act. Manning will be the oldest quarterback to start in a Super Bowl. At 26, Manning’s counterpart Newton, however, is just getting started. The 13-year age difference between the two will be the largest of any two quarterbacks to play in a Super Bowl. To better put it perspective, Newton was just eight years old when the Indianapolis Colts selected Manning with the first overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft.
7: Consecutive games in the Bay Area Peyton Manning has won
As a rookie, Peyton Manning made his first Bay Area-area start on Oct. 18, 1998 vs. San Francisco. The then-Indianapolis Colts’ starting quarterback dueled 49ers' great Steve Young and threw for 231 yards and three touchdowns in a losing effort. Since then, Manning has rattled off seven consecutive wins on the road in San Francisco and Oakland. Manning’s last appearance in the 49ers’ home was a memorable one — he led the Broncos in 2014 to a 42-17 win behind 318 passing yards and four touchdowns in a game where he became the NFL’s career passing touchdown leader with 510.
19: Touchdowns Cam Newton has tossed this year against the blitz
Cam Newton’s 10 rushing touchdowns during the regular season led all NFL quarterbacks. But his play when facing the blitz this season offers a bit more insight into just how truly remarkable of a season he’s strung together. Newton currently carries a stellar 118.2 QB rating, connecting on 61.1 percent of his passes and throwing for 19 touchdowns against two interceptions when facing the blitz this year.
0: Number of rushing touchdowns Denver has yielded to opposing quarterbacks
Denver this year has faced off against some of the game’s top rushing threats at quarterback in dual-threat stars Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith. But the Broncos have yet to yield a rushing touchdown to an opposing signal-caller. This statistic will face its strongest test come Sunday, however, as Cam Newton has 12 scores on the ground over 18 games. This intriguing matchup is sure to be one of the game’s biggest storylines as Denver would love nothing more than to keep Newton out of the end zone when he has the ball in his hands.
12: Number of Pro Bowlers between the two teams
Carolina’s eight Pro Bowl selections set a franchise record as Cam Newton, Thomas Davis, Josh Norman, Luke Kuechly, Ryan Kalil, Mike Tolbert, Greg Olsen and Kawann Short received invitations to the NFL all-star game. For the Broncos, defenders DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. all were invited to Hawaii. Of course all 12 had to replaced since their seasons aren't quite over yet.
2: Number of Super Bowl appearances by music titan Beyoncé
OK, this stat doesn’t have anything to do with game itself, but music sensation Beyoncé will make her second Super Bowl appearance when she joins band Coldplay at halftime in Santa Clara, a feat that can’t be said for any other female recording artist.
— Written by Elton Hayes, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. A Washington, D.C.-based sports writer, Hayes is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and he also has been an invited guest on “The Paul Finebaum Show.” Follow him on Twitter @EHDC12.