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A casual football fan's guide to the Broncos (aka 7 ways to impress your friends on Super Sunday)

This Sunday the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers will go head-to-head in Super Bowl 50 in hopes of lifting the Lombardi trophy after 60 minutes of action.

If you're reading this and you're a Broncos fan — hey! You're awesome. We love you.

If you're reading this and you don't know too much about the Broncos, but you're maybe interested in adopting this as your team for this weekend — hey! It's not too late! Come on over to Broncos Country.

If you're reading this and you're a Panthers fan — here's the door. You can show yourself out. Kidding! (Or am I?)

Anyway, sometimes it's difficult to keep up with a team for an entire season if you're not attached to your sofa Sunday (or Monday or Thursday or maybe Friday), but that's what I'm here for.

This is your guide to all things Broncos so if you're trying to impress a guy or gal at the bar, or sounds really smart at your Super Bowl party — this list is for you. Without further ado, in honor of our great Hall of Fame quarterback and current Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager, John Elway, here are seven things you should know:

1. This has been a meaningful year for Demaryius Thomas

Broncos Pro Bowl wide receiver Demaryius Thomas inked a new contract in the offseason, coming to terms with the Broncos in the waning hours. But just as he and the Broncos agreed to a deal, Thomas got a call from his mother, Katina Smith.

Smith had been incarcerated since Thomas was 11 in 2000. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison on a drug trafficking charge.

Smith missed Thomas' first football game in high school, watched his games on TV from prison while he played at Georgia Tech and then when he was drafted and made his first NFL start. But Smith has never seen Thomas play football in person.

Take a look through Demaryius Thomas' career as a Denver Bronco, including his milestones.

But that all changed when President Barak Obama commuted 46 men and women who faced decades in prison for non-violent, drug offenses — and Smith was one of them.

So in the same week, Thomas signed a five-year, 70 million-dollar contract, he found out he could see his mom outside a prison for the first time in 16 years. Smith spent several months in a halfway house before she was able to leave Georgia. But she got a chance to see Thomas play for the first time ever in person in the Broncos' divisional round game. After the Broncos won, quarterback Peyton Manning gave the game ball to Thomas so he could give it to his mother.

2. The Broncos' Super Bowl history goes eight deep

This is the Broncos' eighth Super Bowl appearance in 45 years as a franchise, which ties for the most in NFL history.

But the Broncos haven't secured a World Championship since they won back-to-back Super Bowls (their only in team history) in 1997 and 1998.

With a win, the Broncos become the ninth NFL franchise to win three or more Super Bowls.

3. Peyton Manning's 18th season has been a wild, special ride

I'm sure you've heard all about the craziness that has been quarterback Peyton Manning's 18th season in the NFL.

Manning tried to fight through the pain of a torn plantar fascia, but after breaking the record for career passing yards in a game against Kansas City, Manning was forced to sit out the remainder of the game due to the effects of his injury.

He then sat out for six games taking care of his foot before being active for the first time in the Broncos' season finale against the Chargers. When the Broncos, led by quarterback Brock Osweiler, failed to find a spark and putting their playoff chances in jeopardy — Kubiak decided to put in Manning. Manning did what he needed to do and led the Broncos to victory and the AFC's No. 1 seed.

He's started and led the Broncos to victory in both playoff games this season and became the first quarterback to ever lead multiple teams to multiple Super Bowls.

4. Denver's dominant secondary

The Broncos are a tight-knit group — but arguably one of the closest is the defensive backs. Led by Pro Bowl cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib, the Broncos' stout secondary has left plenty of opposing offenses wanting more.

As a testament to their dominance, the Broncos finished first in the NFL in passing yards allowed with a 199.6 average.

Not only was Denver good at holding off opposing offenses through the air, but they also excelled at producing turnovers. The Broncos' secondary totaled four defensive touchdowns this season (3 INT, 1FR) to tie for the third most in the NFL season.

Talib has proved to be quite the ballhawk over his eight seasons in the NFL, as he has posted the most interceptions (30) by a cornerback in the league since he entered the NFL in 2008.

But they're not a one-trick pony. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips has taken advantage of his team's wide range of skills. Safety T.J. Ward ranks second among NFL defensive backs with 19 tackles for a loss since 2013 — a total that includes 5.5 quarterback sacks and 13.5 run stuffs.

5. Our pass rushing star shines on the field, in his dance moves and with his fashion

There's no doubt that outside linebacker Von Miller dances to the beat of his own drum.

Not only has Miller established a reputation for his creative sack dances on the field, but he's also managed to make moves for charity. The NFL fined Miller after a game in Detroit for his very NSFW that were inspired by a Key & Peele sketch on Comedy Central.

On Friday, Von's Vision provided eyewear to over 300 Denver Public School Students at Von's Back to School Vision Day.

The fine was a whopping $11,567 and the creators behind the show, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele took notice. The duo matched the amount the NFL fined Miller and donated it to Miller's charity, Von's Vision. Von's Vision helps low-income children of Denver receiver corrective eye care to help better their lives in and out of the classroom.

But while Miller is known for his on-field antics, he's also as out there with his clothing. Fur hats, Christian Louboutin sneakers, leather-fringe jackets, purple suits and so much more. 

6. Our fans span outside of the Colorado state lines

Since the franchise's humble beginning in 1960, Broncos fans have endured difficult seasons and the difficulty of shaking the initially poor perception of the team and region, which was seen as a "cow town." But the Broncos broke out as a contender in 1977, turning their first postseason berth into a Super Bowl appearance. From then on out, Broncos fans had a consistent contender to root for, and as the team continued to perform well and the city grew, so did Broncos Country.

After four Super Bowl losses in a 20-year span, the Broncos finally broke through that barrier for back-to-back Super Bowl championships in 1997 and 1998. Broncos Country has helped make the team a premier franchise in the league, and through thick and thin, as the team's history show, with a home sellout streak dating back to 1970.

7. After 11 years, DeMarcus Ware has a season of firsts

Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware has been in the NFL for 11 years, making him one of the longest tenured players on the team.

But Ware has never played in a conference championship game, let alone won one over a decade of playing. Ware was named a member of the 2000s NFL All-Decade Team, ranks second among active players and 11th all-time with 134.5 career sacks.

This September, Ware also earned the AFC Defensive Player of the Month — the first time in his career after turning in 3.5 sacks and a league-leading 11 quarterback hits through the first three games of 2015

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