1. A top-ranked defense vs. a top-ranked offense.
As the old saying goes – offenses score points but defenses win championships. On Sunday night when the Broncos and Panthers meet, one of the NFL's top defenses will square off against one of league's top offenses. Carolina scored 500 points during the regular season, the most of any team, and finished 10th in yards per game. The Broncos allowed the fewest yards per game (283.1) and the fourth-fewest points (296).
- Peyton vs. Cam.**
Two quarterbacks are never on the field at the same time and don't necessarily play "against" each other, but how each signal-caller performs will have a significant impact on the outcome of the game. At 39, Manning is more than a decade older than the 26-year-old Newton. There has never been such a large age gap between starting quarterbacks in Super Bowl history.
3. Slowing down Denver's edge rushers.
In the Broncos' AFC championship victory over the Patriots, Denver sacked Tom Brady four times and laid 23 more hits on him. According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Broncos hit Brady 11 times more than his pervious season-high. The burden of protecting Cam Newton against the likes of DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller will fall on the shoulders of Carolina offensive tackles Michael Oher and Mike Remmers. Pro Football Focus listed Miller's matchup against Remmers as the biggest mismatch of the Super Bowl.
4. Unlikely heroes.
Last year, it was New England's Malcolm Butler who went from a relatively unknown player to the hero of the Super Bowl. Butler recorded a late-game interception in his own end zone to help the Patriots fend off the Seahawks and win their fourth championship. While all eyes will be on each team's star players, any member of each team's active roster has the ability to make a game-changing play.