CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR PANTHERS-BRONCOS SUPER BOWL 50 STAT COMPARISON TABLE.
The Carolina Panthers should cruise to an easy win in Super Bowl 50, assuming the game goes according to statistical plan.
And these games usually do.
Here are four reasons why Carolina should whitewash the Broncos. The Cold, Hard Football Facts also offer Denver's only statistical path to victory.
ONE - Peyton Manning vs. the Carolina defense is the biggest statistical mismatch of the 2015 season
Super Bowl 50 pits the NFL's lowest-rated quarterback against the league's top-rated pass defense in the biggest statistical mismatch of the 2015 season.
As the chart above shows, Carolina dominated the battle of Passer Rating Differential this season – No. 2 in the NFL (+25.5) and peaking at the right time.
If we include Carolina's two playoff wins, its Passer Rating Differential of +27.4 is its best of the season. The Panthers have never been better than they are today.
The Broncos, meanwhile, were No. 18 in PRD (-2.4) and bumbled along the path of statistical mediocrity all year long.
Almost all games are won by the more efficient passing team, so this trend already bodes well for the Panthers. As we've so often noted, Passer Rating Differential is the Mother of All Stats because year after year, decade after decade, teams that dominate PRD dominate championships: 27 of 75 NFL champs (36%) since 1940 finished No. 1 in PRD; 45 (60%) ranked in the Top 3; 71 (95%) ranked in the Top 10.
And it gets even worse for Denver.
The Broncos are a historic anomaly: if they win the Super Bowl, they'll be just the third team in NFL history (since 1940) to win a championship despite being upside down in PRD. The other two were the 1957 Lions and 2007 Giants.
Offensively, Denver ended the year No. 31 in league-wide passing efficiency. It's the lowest-ranked passing attack in the history of pro football that's gone on to reach a Super Bowl or NFL championship game.
The Denver passing attack was even worse with Manning under center. The aged future Hall of Famer finished No. 34 this year in passing efficiency among 34 qualifying quarterbacks.
Facing him on the other side of the ball? The best pass defense in football in 2015. The Panthers ranked No. 1 in Defensive Passer Rating, as opposing passers compiled a meager 73.5 rating here in a year in which a new standard was set for league-wide passing efficiency (88.4 rating).
The Carolina defense also topped the NFL with 24 interceptions. Manning threw 17 interceptions in just nine starts, with a 5.1 percent INT rate, easily the worst of his career. The Panthers were also No. 1 in Defensive Real QB Rating, which measures all aspects of QB play, not just passing.
The bottom line is that it would be a statistical miracle for Manning to produce at a championship level against a defense that has made life miserable for QBs all season long.
Juicy little Cold, Hard Football Fact: every team in Super Bowl history that's thrown a pick-six has lost.
TWO - Carolina is the total statistical package
The Panthers were the most balanced team in football this year: No. 1 in the Cold, Hard Football Facts Quality Stats Power Rankings, which sizes up teams across the board in 22 different indicators, each of which has a direct correlation to winning football games.
Put another way, Carolina was the most statistically dominant team in football. The Panthers topped the NFL in six of those 22 Quality Stats, and finished in the Top 10 in 21 of 22.
In addition to topping the list in our Quality Stats Power Rankings, Carolina was also No. 1 in
The underdog Broncos will have a hard time finding a weakness to exploit. You can see the side by side stat comparisons for each team in all our indicators right here.
THREE – The Panthers beat up Quality Opponents
Carolina was the only team in the NFL this year to post a perfect regular-season record (4-0) against what we call Quality Opponents (any team that ends the year with a winning record).
Carolina's +11.7 PPG scoring differential (33.0-21.3) against Quality Opponents was also the best in football. The P-Men padded their total with two impressive wins over quality competition in the playoffs. Carolina right now is 6-0 against Quality Opponents, while outscoring them 212-124.
If not for Seattle's furious second-half comeback in the divisional round, the Panthers would have doubled up quality competition this year.
Denver, to its credit, boasts a league-high seven Quality Wins this year, including two over the Patriots, against two losses. But the Broncos have looked far less impressive along the way. In a total of nine games against Quality Opponents (including playoffs), Denver outscored the opposition just 216-192.
FOUR – Super Bowl 50 is a mental mismatch, too. Carolina this year finished No. 3 on the Cold, Hard Football Facts Intelligence Index, which measures team-wide efficiency in all phases of the game. Denver finished No. 19.
Carolina not only led the NFL in scoring, they also topped the NFL in scoring efficiency, or what we call Scoreability, one of two key components of team intelligence. The smart, efficient Panthers scored a TD and extra point for every 81.9 yards of offense. The dumb, inefficient Broncos need 112.0 yards of offense to score the same 7 points.
We call games like this a mental mismatch. The smart, efficient team not only usually wins, they usually beat the spread, too.
Denver's only path to victory
The Broncos do enjoy one statistical ace in the hole – a single factor that so often carries otherwise ordinary teams to success: Denver fielded the best defensive front in football this year, No. 1 on the Cold, Hard Football Facts Defensive Hog Index.
If all else fails, a team can often get by simply by overwhelming the opposing offensive line and, therefore, overwhelming the all-important opposing quarterback.
Football fans witnessed this phenomenon two weeks ago in the AFC title game, when Denver's top-ranked defensive front manhandled New England's offensive line and pummeled quarterback Tom Brady.
Patriots fans might remember a similar game 8 years ago, in Super Bowl XLII.
The New York Giants entered that game against the mighty 16-0 Patriots one of the weakest Super Bowl contenders of all time by almost every statistical measure of team successs.
Those Giants were good at one thing, and one thing only. Like this year's Broncos, they had the best defensive front in football, No.1 on the Cold, Hard Football Facts Defensive Hog Index.
New York rode that one unit all the way to the biggest statistical upset in Super Bowl history. If the Broncos hope to beat Carolina, they'll have to win the same exact way.