Quarterback Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers participates in drills during practice prior to Super Bowl 50 at San Jose State University on February 5, 2016 in San Jose, California. The Carolina Panthers face the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 on February 7. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos both enter the game fully healthy. All 53 players on both teams will be available to play in the Super Bowl as every player listed on the injury report was given a probable designation after Friday's final practices.
No player suffered a similar fate to Kam Chancellor in suffering an injury in the final practice of the season.
Nevertheless, one player to keep an eye on is Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis.
Davis suffered a broken arm in Carolina's NFC Championship victory over the Arizona Cardinals. He had surgery the day after the game and will start against the Denver Broncos. Just how long the arm will be able to hold up could be a critical point for the Panthers defense.
"Fifty-three guys are ready to roll," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said, via pool reporter Matt Maiocco following the team's walkthrough on Saturday. "I talked to the docs about Jared (Allen) and Thomas (Davis), and they look great."
For the Broncos, safeties T.J Ward (ankle) and Darian Stewart (knee), and guard Louis Vasquez (knee) are all expected to start.
Both teams being able to be at full strength for the Super Bowl is always a great thing to see. You want to see the best teams playing at their best when a championship is on the line.
So who wins Super Bowl 50?
If this game was played 50 times, I think the Panthers win 40. They are a more complete, more balanced team at this point in the season. Cam Newton was named the league MVP on Saturday night and had a phenomenal second half of the season.
Carolina's defense has been terrific as well. Kawaan Short and Star Lotulelei are fantastic players on the defensive front. And Davis and Luke Kuechly are stars at the linebacker position. As a quick aside, Kuechly pass deflection against Doug Baldwin in the fourth quarter of the Divisional Round playoff game against the Seahawks is a play very, very few linebackers are able to make.
While Carolina is a little thinned out in the secondary, Peyton Manning has become such a limited passer at this stage in his career. The two weeks of rest will likely have Manning playing at his current peak ability. However, it seems difficult to imagine Manning carving up the Panthers defense like his old self on Sunday.
As good as Carolina's defense is, Denver's is better. After getting slapped by the Seahawks 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII, the Broncos went to work on the defensive side of the ball. The additions of linebacker DeMarcus Ware, cornerback Aqib Talib and Ward have turned the Broncos defense into the strength of the team.
The biggest question for Sunday is will Manning and the Denver offense be able to do enough?
So how does Denver overcome the odds and send Manning out with a second Lombardi Trophy in what is likely his final NFL game?
I think it's going to require some fluky circumstances to go in Denver's favor. I think the Broncos have to get a defensive score to have a real shot. Getting an early lead could help frustrate Newton and make the Panthers offense stagnant.
Carolina's rushing attack is vital. They have the most diverse running game in the league. All of the option looks and play-action fakes the Panthers run has an additional benefit in slowing down an opposing pass rush. It's one reason why Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett didn't get anywhere close to sacking Newton three weeks ago.
If Denver can force the game into Newton's hands by building a significant lead, that would play significantly in their favor.
But in the end, I think the Panthers are the better team and will win their first title. Carolina wasn't this good when they beat Seattle in Week 6. They've improved throughout the year as Newton has improved. I kept thinking their lack of quality receivers would come back to bite them. And heck, maybe it does in the Super Bowl. But Carolina has been the best team in the league since November and they'll win Super Bow 50 on Sunday.
Panthers 30 - Broncos 16.