Gameday is here, and it's the biggest gameday of the year as the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos are set to compete under the bright lights of Super Bowl 50. It's a historic occasion given the number of Super Bowls played, but it also features the top seeds from both conferences and could be the final game of Peyton Manning's career. It feels bigger than any recent Super Bowl has.
More: Super Bowl 2016 live stream.
The whole thing is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET Sunday, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. It's one of the most modern stadiums in the world and is a perfect place for such a high profile showdown to occur. It's unlikely there is anybody left who is unaware of the storylines here, but it can't hurt to go over them once more.
Manning was benched during the regular season after throwing 17 interceptions, including four in his last game as a starter against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos lost that game, and Brock Osweiler was named the starter going forward. He played well enough to not lose all of his games as Denver's defense kept up the strong play.
But Gary Kubiak, in his first year as head coach of the Broncos, made a gutsy decision and brought Manning, 39, back into the fold for the playoffs. Thus far it has paid off, as the Broncos made it past both the tough Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots in the playoffs before getting to the Super Bowl.
Manning has been a big part of those wins, though he has played more of a game manager role. That fits though, as C.J. Anderson has been running the ball very well and Denver's defense is the best in the league. They finished at the top of the league in the most important categories and the Panthers happen to have the best offense in the league. It's a perfect matchup that could go either way.
If it goes Carolina's way, it will likely be on the back of quarterback Cam Newton. If Manning is the retiring veteran trying to make one last statement, Newton is the absolute future of the position and was considered an MVP candidate since the start of the season. Newton's Panthers went 15-1 in the regular season, only faltering against the NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons.
The Panthers ranked first in the league in points scored, with 31.3 per game. Denver was way down that list, coming in at No. 19 with 22.2 points scored per game. The Broncos come in at first in the league in total defense, though, and they're ranked fourth in the league in points allowed at 18.5. Carolina solidifies themselves as the better team on paper by ranking sixth in that category, allowing 19.3 points per game in the regular season.
Where things hinge is whether or not the Broncos' offense can perform better than the below average unit that played for most of the regular season. That really depends which Manning shows up Sunday night.
How to Watch
When: 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: Levi's Stadium, San Francisco, Calif.
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
Halftime performers: Coldplay, Bruno Mars, Beyonce
Online: CBS Sports