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 Thursday has in store for the Panthers and Broncos.
Storyline to watch: Cornerback Josh Norman takes pride in being a shutdown corner, but the Broncos haven't been overly complimentary of Norman's ability. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas has suggested he has seen things on film that could present opportunities for him. How much Norman is asked to blanket Thomas will be interesting since the Panthers play a lot of zone coverage. But in past games when Norman has felt the opponent hasn't given him respect he has shined. Stay tuned.
Injuries to monitor: Defensive end Jared Allen was limited in Wednesday's practice with the broken foot that kept him out of the NFC Championship Game. The league's active sack leader wasn't listed on the injury report last week. Allen has insisted since last week he'll play and coach Ron Rivera has said he expects Allen to play. But if the foot becomes an issue, Rivera won't hesitate to put the best interests of the team ahead of Allen's desire to play in the Super Bowl.
Stat of the day: No quarterback attempted more than three designed rushes in a game against the Broncos this season. Cam Newton averages about seven designed runs per game, gaining 414 yards and scoring 8 TDs on such calls (both tops among QBs). -- David Newton
Storyline to watch: The Panthers led the NFL in rushing attempts (526) during the regular season and were No. 2 in rushing yards per game (142.6). But the Broncos' defense surrendered more than 110 yards rushing in a game just twice this season -- Week 2 vs. Kansas City and Week 9 vs. Indianapolis. And the Broncos' two playoff opponents -- the Steelers and Patriots -- didn't really try to establish the run, with just 19 and 17 attempts respectively. The Broncos have surrendered 129 yards rushing combined in the two playoff games and 40 of those yards came on one end-around play by Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant.
Injuries to monitor: The Broncos had a full practice Wednesday with three players -- safety T.J. Ward (left ankle), safety Darian Stewart (right knee) and guard Louis Vasquez (knee) -- listed as limited. All players did participate.
Stat of the day: Only four teams had at least 30 rushing attempts against the Broncos this season -- Cleveland, Indianapolis, Kansas City (Nov. 15) and Cincinnati. The Broncos were 2-2 in those games, 12-2 in games when the opponents attempted fewer than 30 rushing attempts (including playoffs). -- Jeff Legwold