The Carolina Pan­thers

The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

Pan­thers vs. Bron­cos, 4: 30 p. m. on Feb. 7, KCNC- 4 Last game: The Pan­thers ( 17- 1) are com­ing off a 49- 15 an­ni­hi­la­tion of the Ari­zona Car­di­nals in the NFC cham­pi­onship game Sun­day. Who’s hot: The Pan­thers’ de­fense forced quar­ter­back Car­son Palmer and the Car­di­nals into seven turnovers. Palmer had six— four in­ter­cep­tions and two lost fum­bles. Pan­thers safety Kurt Cole­man made two in­ter­cep­tions. Star linebacker Luke Kuechly re­cov­ered a fum­ble and re­turned an in­ter­cep­tion for a touch­down. Who’s not: Carolina’s gearshift of­ten gets stuck in neu­tral. In their 31- 24 NFC divi­sional play­off vic­tory over the Seat­tle Sea­hawks, the Pan­thers jumped out to a 31- 0 half­time lead. They al­lowed Seat­tle to score 24 con­sec­u­tive points in a come­back ef­fort. For a team that of­ten comes out on fire, the Pan­thers tend to take their foot off the pedal once they get a lead. Key stat: The Pan­thers led the NFL this sea­son with a plus- 20 turnover mar­gin, six bet­ter than the sec­ond­place Kansas City Chiefs. Den­ver was tied for 19th with a mi­nus- 4 mar­gin. FYI: The Bron­cos are play­ing in their se­cond Su­per Bowl in three sea­sons. Carolina is mak­ing its se­cond trip in fran­chise his­tory. The Pan­thers lost 32- 29 to the Pa­tri­ots in Su­per Bowl XXXVIII, com­plet­ing the 2003 sea­son. In­jury re­port: All- pro cen­ter Ryan Kalil is OK af­ter suf­fer­ing a knee in­jury dur­ing the first half of Sun­day’s game. He re­turned in the se­cond half and fin­ished the game. Coachspeak: “The lion al­ways eats un­til he is sat­is­fied. Then he sleeps. We can’t be sat­is­fied. We just can’t.” — Pan­thers coach Ron Rivera, to The Char­lotte Ob­server

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