Carolina Panthers v Denver Broncos

Where: Levi’s Stadium, San Francisco

When: Sunday February 7 at 23:30

Watch: Sky Sports 1, Sky Sports 3, BBC Two

Listen: BBC Radio 5 live

Bet: Carolina Panthers 4/9, Denver Broncos 15/8

Super Bowl parties: See below

Teams in brief

Denver Broncos

With John Elway orchestrating the play, the Denver Broncos took two Super Bowls in two years – 1998-99. But still, if Super Bowl 50 goes the way of the betting and the Panthers take the trophy, the midwesterners will have lost the big game for the sixth time, the most defeats suffered by a franchise in the half-century history. And they tend to lose big too. In the five defeats the average score has been 41-12. "Choke City" has a point to prove.

Carolina Panthers

With Cam Newton pulling the strings and his team-mates ruthless in offence, commentators are beginning to ask the big bar-room question – are the Carolina Panthers one of the best ever? Their destruction of the Arizona Cardinals 49-15 in the NFC Championship Game showed their intent. And if the Charlotte outfit take the Super Bowl it will be an 18-1 season, tying for the best 19-game season record. Destiny awaits.


Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

Tricky, you say, to feel sorry for a long-lived NFL legend who earns a salary-capped at $21.5million – but a sentimental neutral might root for Denver Broncos’ veteran quarter-back Peyton Manning at Super Bowl 50 nevertheless.

When the Broncos pipped New England Patriots 20-18 in the AFC Championship Game, the 39-year-old gave an indication time was running out.

“Hey, listen, this might be my last rodeo. So, it sure has been a pleasure,” Manning was overheard telling Patriots coach Bill Belichick – a fitting metaphor the man known as The Sheriff.

Manning missed six starts this season because of a heel injury. But he started in both Denver’s play-off victories and he’s protected by one of the NFL’s best defences. Besides no-one’s talking final decisions with the Super Bowl still in play.

Manning already has a ring – that was Super Bowl 41 when he was named MVP after his Indianpolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears 29-17. But Super Bowl 48 undid a lot of those happy memories – that 43-8 pounding at the hands of Seattle Seahawks, the game done and dusted by the time Bruno Mars hit the stage at half-time.

That left a scar. That stung, even for a man not prone to negative introspection. “It’s not embarrassing,” Manning said. “Embarrassing is an insulting word.” But, of course, it was embarrassing.

The contrast between the Panthers’ rocket and the creaking statesman couldn’t be starker.

But that might be the spur Manning needs to saddle up and command the arena one last time.

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

If the quarter-back of the Carolina Panthers were any young buck with a swagger and a match brain, this would still be the Generation Game Super Bowl. The fact that the Panther’s arm is Cam Newton adds a whole new dimension.

Because the 26-year-old is one of the greatest stars in the current NFL, inventive, controversial, charming, stylish, handsome – the stuff of a Hollywood film featuring Kevin Costner in a cameo.

Yes, he’s on the border of being cocky – but that’s where people like their sporting heroes to live. He has a big heart, big energy, a command of the football field, a natural aptitude for the big game – and, here’s the thing, he simply cannot be stopped. A laser-guided bulldozer.

Opposing teams have used up clipboards, whiteboards, Red Bull and late nights trying to figure out how to stop the man – but he pushes the game beyond the border of normal so there are not really any conventional rules that apply.

He’s 6ft 5ins and 245lbs for a start – built like a linebacker – and he likes to run.

Most disconcerting for the opposition, he’s a sucker for the unconventional. Because he’s big, he doesn’t fear getting hurt, he just fears losing.

“I see myself not only as a football player, but an entertainer and icon,” he says.

This is the Golden Super Bowl. He is the face of the NFL. It’s a match made in sporting heaven. Don’t be surprised if Cam Newton is a brand of sportswear and a line of male cosmetics coming to a sports store near you sometime in the spring.

Party time

BROOKLYN BOWL, THE O2: A massive 6m screen and seven smaller HD screens will be showing Super Bowl 50 at The O2’s Brooklyn Bowl, accompanied by ‘80s party band Pop Gun. Tickets include a pint and £25 party packages are available.

CLUB AQUARIUM, SHOREDITCH: There will be performances from London’s leading cheerleading group, The Komani Cheerleaders, who will re-create the authentic US Superbowl experience. Then there’s a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, Xbox and games room, American-themed food, competitions and more to consider.

How do you reach the Super Bowl?

■ The National Football League (NFL) is split into two nationwide conferences – the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference.

■ The Superbowl is contested between the top teams in the two 16-team conferences – AFC v NFC.

■ Each conference is split into four divisions – North, South, East and West. Each division winner – eight teams in all – automatically make the play-offs along with two wild card teams, based on their division record.

■ The 12 teams are seeded according to their division performance and then enter the four-round play-offs within their conference. The two top seeds automatically advance to the Divisional play-off round and have home advantage.

■ The two teams that win the conference championship round reach the Super Bowl.