Carolina (0-0) at Denver (0-0)
When: Thursday, September 8th 2016
Where: Sports Authority Field, Denver, CO
Time: 8:30 ET | TV: NBC
The Carolina Panthers will visit the Denver Broncos in a rematch of Super Bowl 50 to kick off the 2016 NFL season. Denver easily handled the Panthers in the big game as Peyton Manning went out on top. Manning will not be around anymore and the Broncos have given the reigns to second-year QB Trevor Seimian, who beat out rookie Paxton Lynch and veteran Mark Sanchez. Seimian’s only action during the regular season last year was a kneel-down against the Steelers, but General Manager and Bronco legend John Elway is confident in the youngster. “Trevor is the guy. We have a lot of confidence in Trevor and believe that he can do the job. It’s Trevor’s job, but he’s not going to be looking over his shoulder.” Demaryius Thomas led the Broncos in receptions (105) and receiving yards (1,304) and tied Emmanuel Sanders in receiving touchdowns (six) last season. Thomas was held to one catch for eight yards in the Super Bowl, but will be going up against a rookie rather than Pro Bowler Josh Norman. Denver hopes to rely more on their running game this season and are led by C.J. Anderson (720 yards), who ran for 90 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl 50. Super Bowl MVP Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware headline a defense that will once again be one of the best in the league.
Cam Newton will hope to get things started off on the right foot after a forgettable outing in the Super Bowl and much talked about press conference afterwards. Newton threw for 45 touchdowns in 2015, but was sacked a Super Bowl high-tying seven times and was stripped of the ball twice. Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who sat out the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL, will be back tonight in a limited capacity as we works on his conditioning. Newton spread the ball around last season without Benjamin as tight end Greg Olsen, WR’s Ted Ginn and Devin Funchess were his favorite targets. Jonathan Stewart (club-best 989 rushing) will look to aid in the ground game. Carolina’s defense was one of the best last season, but could feel the effects of losing Norman. LB Luke Kuechly had a club-best 10 tackles in Super Bowl 50 and had a team-leading 118 during the regular season.
Denver has won an amazing 15 of their last 16 home openers and are getting points tonight. The public is all over Carolina in this one mainly because they have no faith in Seimian. If John Elway has faith in a young quarterback over a proven veteran (Sanchez), then I will too. Denver’s defense will once again fluster Newton and be the deciding factor in their win tonight. Take the points.
Pick: Broncos +3