When thirty-two NFL teams entered training camp in July of 2015, each team had the mindset and goal of still playing on February 7, 2016 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
However, only two teams would still be standing come this time. Those two teams are the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos.
Both the Panthers and the Broncos took different paths to be playing in this game.
The Carolina Panthers lost their number one wide receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, early in training camp to a torn ACL. Immediately, it appeared as if that was the season for the Panthers, as all of a sudden, the Panthers were without a 1,000 yard receiver and did not have another wide receiver, not counting tight end Greg Olsen, on the roster who could be classified as a ‘go to’ target for quarterback Cam Newton.
Yet, the emergence of Newton to lead a balanced offense, along with a defense that is lights out, propelled the Panthers to a 15-1 regular season record, third that nobody saw coming, a third straight NFC South title and number one seed in the NFC.
The Denver Broncos entered training camp knowing that quarterback and future Hall of Famer, Peyton Manning, might very well be entering his last season. From the beginning of the season, Manning looked like he had a tough time adjusting to new head coach Gary Kubiak’s offense, as through the first nine games, Manning had 17 interceptions, yet the Broncos rode a defense that is also lights out, to a 7-2 record before going down with an injury. In comes Brock Osweiler who did just enough to keep the Broncos in the hunt, before Manning came back to finish the season 12-4 and to secure the number one seed in the AFC.
Once the playoffs started, the Panthers handled both the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals, while the Denver Broncos took care of business against the Pittsburgh Steelers and escaped against the New England Patriots.
On Sunday, both the Panthers and Broncos landed in California for a week of preparation, media appearances and soaking in the experience of being at Super Bowl 50.
However, the week of preparation could not be complete without the fans. Those fans who are in California to cheer for the Panthers and those fans who are in California to cheer for the Broncos.
But, what do these fans think? What are these fans doing during the week? What are these fans predictions? Here is what they had to say.
As one fan put it outside the NFL Experience, “I’d like to see Cam win it, I think he gets a lot of bad press.”
But, as this fan was stating that, an obvious Cam hater walked by. “He’s an arrogant son of a gun,” she said. Yet, she then went on to say she likes to stir up controversy. So does she really feel that way about Cam?
Fans had feelings about Peyton as well, which most expressed “cheering for the underdog.” But, is Peyton really an underdog? A future Hall of Fame quarterback an underdog to a quarterback and a team who just appears to be having a good time and riding the wave of success.
But fans clearly showed, the Panthers and Broncos both have support in California.
As you can see, there is a variety of fans, all taking a different view on the game and while in San Francisco. Come Sunday night though, what started out about seven months ago with thirty-two teams with a goal, becomes one team left standing having won Super Bowl 50 and hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
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