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Line: Panthers -3
Prop: Broncos UNDER 19.5 Points
The Super Bowl rematch we’ve all been waiting for is here. Well, sort of. The Broncos, in some sort of bizarre NFL Kamikaze’ing of their own roster, have gone from a quarterback depth chart comprised of a sure fire Hall of Famer and rising star to Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, which would be funny if it was a joke in the wake of hoisting the Lombardi trophy, but amazingly team President John Elway actually allowed this to happen. Maybe he’s trying to come out of retirement and let the defense carry him to another ring, inspired by Peyton Manning last season? A Broncos fan can only hope.
In college, my friends and I used to refer to the the new Broncos starting quarterback as Trevor the Semen Demon, a not so clever play on his last name, but astutely grounded in what we imagine was the ejaculatory excitement of opposing defenses when Northwestern’s dunce of a quarterback took the field. Now, through circumstances I will never understand, that dunce is the leader of the world champions. While, to the best of my knowledge at least, Siemian is not a Make-A-Wish kid, it seems somehow the guy nobody could believe started for a perennial Big Ten cellar dweller was simply the best option in training camp for the Super Bowl champions. What a country.
Siemian is really bad; there’s no other way around it. Having his first career start against perhaps the best defense in the world also won’t help. Yes, the Broncos still possess elite options in Thomas and Sanders, though this is, without a doubt, the thinnest receiving core and backfield of the last several years in Denver. Cody Latimer has been around long enough now to justify the term bust, and gone are Vernon Davis and Julius Thomas (signed with the Jags in 2015) and the retreads that fill out the receiving core and backup Virgil Green are replacement level at best. In the backfield, I’m not sold on CJ Anderson, especially as the Broncos rely on their running game against what should be heavily stacked fronts harassing their young and inept quarterback into passing down the field.
The Panthers are essentially a nightmarish matchup for the Broncos this season. I would take their front seven over any the league, and though they lost Josh Norman in the secondary, the Panthers bring back ten starters and six of their top reserves to a unit that flirted with the number one overall ranking last season. On offense, the Panthers finally have some weapons for Cam Newton, coming off of an unprecedented MVP season in which Newton set career highs while playing without his best overall receiver. Now, Kelvin is back, Funchess is looking to emerge as a premier second receiver, and Greg Olsen is finally fully healthy.
I’ve already declared my opinion that the Broncos will be this year’s biggest disappointment, with huge losses on defense slowing a once elite unit and the suicide of their offense grinding out low scoring games all season long. The Panthers have revenge on their minds, a vastly superior quarterback, and overall far more talented roster. Ron Rivera and the defensive staff will wreak havoc on the Semen Demon, while Newton and the newly retooled offense picks up where the 2015 regular season left off, avenging their Super Bowl ineptitude. People are sleeping on Kelvin Benjamin, a dominant rookie poised for a breakout 2015 prior to injury. The Panthers are a damn good team that got even stronger this offseason, while the World Champions took several steps back.
You might as well count the money now, because this one is a lock.
Pick: Panthers 31 Broncos 10..
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