The Broncos have at their disposal one of the better wide receiver tandems in the NFL. The Panthers … do not.
That’s only a slight knock on Carolina, who takes one of the NFL’s more anonymous wide receiver groups into Super Bowl 50 on Sunday in Santa Clara, California.
The truth is few duos stack up against Broncos wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Each tallied more than 1,000 receiving yards in 2014 and 2015, the pair’s only two seasons as teammates. They’ve accounted for 32 total touchdowns during that stretch.
Sanders has performed better during the playoffs, outgaining Thomas 147-52 through the air. Neither has caught a touchdown pass, though.
Option No. 3 for quarterback Peyton Manning is tight end Owen Daniels. He made 46 receptions for 517 yards and three touchdowns, but his most important contribution to Denver’s Super Bowl run was catching a pair of scores in the AFC Championship Game.
Wideouts Jordan Norwood, Bennie Fowler, Cody Latimer and Andre Caldwell occasionally are in the mix, as well as former two-time Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis.
The tight end is more vital to Carolina’s pass attack. In fact, Greg Olsen was voted to the Pro Bowl at the position for the second consecutive year. Olsen also led the Panthers in receiving, setting career marks for receiving yards (1,104) and touchdowns (seven) during the regular season.
Olsen and the receiving corps were forced to step up after No. 1 wideout Kelvin Benjamin, coming off a rookie season in which he made 73 receptions for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns, tore his ACL during training camp and was forced to miss the entire season. He remains sidelined for the Super Bowl.
After Olsen, Cam Newton likes to throw deep to Ted Ginn Jr. The speedy but drop-prone receiver hauled in a team-best 10 touchdown grabs.
Jerricho Cotchery, Devin Funchess and Corey Brown each were targeted more than 50 times as well, and the trio combined for 111 catches, 1,405 yards and 12 touchdowns during the regular season.