Now that the teams are set for Super Bowl 50, only one question seemingly remains: How badly will the Carolina Panthers obliterate the Denver Broncos on Feb. 7?
Or at least that’s the question many pundits have.
Why? Well, if you’ve been watching the Cam Newton-led Panthers (17-1) at all this season, you already know they’re a nearly unstoppable juggernaut. You saw what they did to the helpless Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game — and to be clear, the Cardinals themselves were supposedly among the league’s best teams all season.
It wasn’t even close.
And while the Broncos, too, were good all year (14-4), there’s no denying the fact that legendary QB Peyton Manning is in the twilight of his career. He’s still effective, but at 39 years old, he’s nowhere near the force he once was. True, Denver earned its Super Bowl 50 bid fair and square by taking down Tom Brady and the Patriots in the AFC title game, but that had more to do with the team’s ferocious defense than with Manning’s presence under center.
But maybe the biggest reason to be skeptical of the Denver Broncos’ odds in the Super Bowl? Check the history books.
For starters, the Broncos already own the dubious record for most Super Bowl losses ever, at five. And on Feb. 7, they could very well be handed their sixth.
In fact, of the nine worst Super Bowl blowouts of all time, Denver owns a third of them.
Here are the biggest losers — by point margin — in Super Bowl history:
Super Bowl XXIV, 1989-90 season: Sure, the Broncos looked awful in their most recent Super Bowl loss — a 43-8 pounding two years ago in Super Bowl XLVIII — but that rout wasn’t exactly historic. Hell, it wasn’t even the worst Super Bowl loss in BRONCOS history. That distinction goes to Super Bowl XXIV, when the San Francisco 49ers beat the snot out of, well, the Denver Broncos in the Superdome in New Orleans. That Denver squad — led at quarterback by current Broncos executive John Elway — fell to Joe Montana’s team by a staggering 45 points, in a final score of 55 to 10.
Joe Montana and the 49ers defeated the Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV.
Super Bowl XX, 1985-86: The second-worst margin of defeat happened in January 1986, when the Chicago Bears defeated the New England Patriots by 36 points in Super Bowl XX. The 46-10 score was a bitter pill for New England to swallow, but clearly that franchise got over it in the ensuing years.
William ‘The Refrigerator’ Perry celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XX. Perry’s Bears won, 46-10.
Super Bowl XXVII, 1992-93: Again, Denver’s loss in 2014 was bad, but it’s merely tied for third-worst Super Bowl rout, matching the one-sidedness of Super Bowl XXVII, played on the final day of January 1993. That game featured the Dallas Cowboys vs. the hapless Buffalo Bills, making the third of their four straight Super Bowl appearances — and losses. Dallas, led by QB Troy Aikman, dispatched Buffalo by 35 points in a final score of 52-17 in Pasadena.
Troy Aikman and the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills 52-17 in Super Bowl XXVII.
Super Bowl XLVIII, 2013-2014: But we have to talk about Denver’s last trip to the big game, because it was an atrocious rout of fairly epic proportions — the kind of lopsided affair we haven’t seen in more than a decade. The Peyton Manning-led Broncos lost in a 35-point shellacking to the Russell Wilson-led Seattle Seahawks. It was the biggest victory — points-wise — by a Super Bowl underdog. This time around, for Super Bowl 50, it’ll be the Broncos who’ll be the underdogs.
Super Bowl XXII, 1987-88: The Washington Redskins captured the Lombardi Trophy in a landslide 32-point victory over, again, the Broncos, in a final score of 42-10
Super Bowl XVIII, 1983-84: The Oakland Raiders took care of business against the Redskins by 29 points. Final score: 38-9.
Super Bowl XXXV, 2000-01: The Baltimore Ravens beat the New York Giants by 27 points. Ravens 34, Giants 7.
Super Bowl XXXVII, 2002-03: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers throttled the Oakland Raiders by 27 points. Bucs 48, Raiders 21
Super Bowl I, 1966-67: Yes, even the first Super Bowl was a bit of a beatdown, as the Bart Starr-led Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs by 25 points. Final score: 35-10.
Kenley Young is a digital content producer for FOXSports.com. He has never won a Super Bowl. Follow him on Twitter @kenleyyoung.