Thirty teams have finished their seasons, and there's only one game remaining: Super Bowl 50. David Newton and Jeff Legwold look ahead to what's in store for the Panthers and Broncos.
Storyline to watch: There has been a lot of talk about how the Panthers will handle the number of times Denver quarterback Peyton Manning is calling a real audible or blowing smoke before the snap. Carolina coach Ron Rivera once told Manning he hopes the wily veteran someday writes a book telling everyone the truth. Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly is spending countless hours studying Manning to make sure he knows when the future Hall of Famer is changing a play for real or faking it, so that he can keep Carolina in the right defense.
Injuries to monitor: None really. The team is as healthy as it can be before leaving for California on Sunday. The biggest question will be how much the broken right forearm suffered by Thomas Davis impacts his ability to make tackles and be on the field for every down. Davis doesn't seem worried, and nobody may know for sure until the game gets underway.
Stat of the day: The Broncos led the NFL in sacks (52) and pressure percentage (35 percent of dropbacks) during the regular season. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has thrown a career-high seven touchdown passes when under duress this season. -- David Newton
Storyline to watch: The Broncos' offensive line has dealt with injuries and uncertainty for much of the season, right from the time when left tackle Ryan Clady suffered a season-ending torn ACL in the Broncos' first OTA workout in May. And guard Louis Vasquez' sore knee will bear watching in the coming days. When the Broncos elected to practice inside on the artificial turf, Vasquez was held out of Friday's practice. He is expected to practice when the team gets to California, but the knee injury has affected his playing time. While he didn't miss a start, Vasquez played in 72 percent of the snaps and was held out of practice at times throughout the season.
Injuries to monitor: Safety T.J. Ward (left ankle) and safety Darian Stewart (right knee) were held out of Friday's practice. Both are still expected to practice next week and play in Super Bowl 50, as they did at least some work in the walk-through portion of practice on Friday. Guard Evan Mathis, who has battled an ankle injury for much of the season, has been limited some this past week, as well.
Stat of the day: The Panthers have started games fast this season -- they led their two playoff games by a combined 31-0 at the end of the first quarter -- but the Broncos had one of the best first-quarter defenses in the league. The Broncos surrendered just 41 points overall in the first quarter this season and did not give up a first-quarter point until Week 9 in Indianapolis. -- Jeff Legwold