Who would have thought Peyton Manning would be in consideration for MVP before the season began? Perhaps some people’s answer to that was IF Manning can stay healthy then he would have a MVP type season. Even then, I’m not sure you could have felt very confident making that prediction. Nevertheless, Manning is having himself an impressive campaign that warrants MVP consideration without a doubt. He looked a little off in the first half last week against the Bengals, but caught fire in the second half, leading his team to a 31-23 in Cincinnati. Manning ultimately finished with 291 yards and three touchdowns on 27-35 passing. He through one ill-advised interception deep in Broncos territory, but managed to come back with more points of his own. The Panthers are feeling pretty good themselves after knocking off RG3 and the Washington Redskins, 21-13. The defense contained Griffin and Cam Newton did enough to win the much anticipated showdown.
Newton has a history of fading away in pressure moments, but he handled himself well when the spotlight was shining on the Panthers in week 9. The Panthers have one of those defenses that if Newton limits the turnovers then they are going to be in plenty of ball games. Newton just did that, playing small ball with only 201 yards through the air and 37 on the ground with 2 touchdowns. The thing that won them this game, however, was the fact that he did not have a single turnover. If Newton gets reckless the cards begin to fall for the Panthers, but if his head is in the game the Panthers are capable of springing an upset here and there. The offense ranks 20th in the NFL, scoring only 18.6 points a game. So, it’s an offense that isn’t as electric as it should be under Newton, but the defense has done a fine job keeping the Panthers competitive. Even though they are 2-6, they have hung around until the end in the majority of their games.
The Panthers’ defense currently ranks 13th, but I think they are a tad better than their record indicates. They have played against some worthy offenses, including the Falcons, Giants, Saints, and Bears. In this respect, the Panthers haven’t had a creampuff schedule, they are a battle tested defense. The Panthers are particularly better against the pass than run, allowing only 224 yards a game (12th). They can be exploited on the ground, however, as they are 20th in the NFL in that regard. The Panthers have faced high powered offenses before, and they will get another difficult test against Manning and the Broncos in week 10.
I alluded to Peyton Manning having an MVP type season earlier, and the stats have certainly backed it up. Heading into week 10, Manning has passed for 2404 yards with 20 touchdowns. His quarterback rating of 108.6 is one of the best in the league. Even more impressive is the fact that he has had multi-touchdown games in all but one game this season. The Broncos have tried to get running back Willis McGahee involved, and he has done a fine job with 620 yards on the year. This offense is most comfortable when Manning is slinging the ball around, as we witnessed in the second half of last week’s game. The offense ranks 3rd in the NFL in total team offense, only behind the Detroit Lions and New England Patriots with 400 yards per game and 29.4 points.
The defense is no slouch either, as they have done a fine job limiting teams. They rank 10th in the NFL allowing only 325 yards a game and 21.9 points. So, the Broncos are one of the most balanced teams in the NFL, they have a good defense to supplement one of the best offenses in the league. Not many teams can say that.
Broncos vs. Panthers Spread and Betting Odds:
Denver Broncos -4 (-115)
@Carolina Panthers +4 (-105)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Broncos vs. Panthers Pick:
It would appear the Carolina Panthers are a legitimate team after knocking off the Redskins. However, while I did take the Panthers last week, the Redskins had a big reason to do with it. The ‘Skins do have RG3, but are still an overrated team in my opinion. It certainly wasn’t an upset that surprised me in the least. Now the Panthers go home to face a red hot Broncos squad that can make plays on offense and defense.
I think Peyton is on a mission to prove doubters wrong, and I’m not quite sure the Panthers are good enough to fend off a determined Manning. Cam Newton worries me in this spot considering what transpired last week against RG3. He is the type of quarterback that disappears and lays a complete egg after a solid week. Is Newton going to feel hungover after trumping Griffin? I am willing to bet there is a better chance of him laying a dud than performing well against the Broncos’ defense. I will take the much more rounded team in a pivotal point in the year.
PICK = Broncos -4