Carolina Panthers (17-2) at Denver Broncos (15-4)
NFL Football: Thursday, September 8, 2016 at 8:30 pm (Sports Authority Field at Mile High)
The Line: Denver Broncos +3 -- Over/Under: 42 Click to Get Latest Betting Odds
The Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos open the 2016 NFL season Thursday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on NBC.
The Carolina Panthers will be looking at this as a chance to rain on Denver’s parade after getting waxed in last year’s Super Bowl. Once again the Panthers will go as far as quarterback Cam Newton carries them, as he threw for 3,800 yards and 35 touchdowns last season with limited weapons. This year, Newton has an improved core with wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin returning from injury, somebody who had more than 1,000 receiving yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie back in 2014. He’ll take pressure off Tedd Ginn Jr. and allow him to win one-on-one matchups more often. Defensively, the Carolina Panthers lost cornerback Josh Norman but are still going to be a feisty unit led by linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis. The Panthers finished sixth last season in total yards allowed and scoring defense.
The Denver Broncos will open the season as the defending Super Bowl champs and will once again have one of the best defenses in the league. With Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib anchoring the defensive side, the Broncos will be confident they can hang against any team even if the offense has its struggles. Denver was fourth in the NFL last season in points allowed and first in total yards allowed. The concern with the Denver Broncos this season is at quarterback, as Trevor Siemian has zero starting experience in this second year in the league. However, the Broncos have solid offensive weapons around the young kid in wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders and running back C.J. Anderson. It’ll take time to ease into the new role, but the Broncos should have their eyes on the playoffs for the sixth straight season.
The Panthers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 road games and 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games overall. The Broncos are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 Thursday games and 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 games in September. The under is 3-1-1 in the last 5 meetings.
The Broncos won a lot of their games defensively last season, so the change at quarterback shouldn't make THAT big of a difference. However, the Panthers have had months to think about that Super Bowl loss and you know Newton is going to come out guns blazing. He also is no longer handicapped, as Benjamin makes this a much better offense. Carolina is the more balanced team between the two and should be able to make just enough big plays to get the job done on the road in the opening game.