Football’s back. Finally, after seven long months there is a football game with meaning and context. And what a game in prospect. Seven months ago to the day, Peyton Manning walked off a football field for the final time as a Super Bowl champion, with MVP Von Miller by his side. Denver’s defense terrorized Cam Newton all day, as the Broncos became Super Bowl 50 champions with a 24-10 victory over the Panthers.
A long and trying offseason followed the defending champions, with the retirement of Manning and the loss of Osweiler in free agency left the Broncos in a tricky QB position despite picking up veteran Mark Sanchez and drafting hot prospect Paxton Lynch. Enter Trevor Siemian. A 7th round pick just a year ago, Siemian stepped up in preseason to win the starters job at the QB position for the Broncos. And what a test for him first up as the Broncos host the Panthers in a Super Bowl 50 rematch at a bouncing Mile High Stadium to kick-start the 2016 season. It sure promises to be another brilliant season of football in the NFL, and no matter what the pundits say, our Broncos will be in contention for the playoffs and beyond. Anyway, onto Thursday…
Broncos key player:
Super Bowl MVP v League MVP. Representing the Broncos, up steps Von Miller. He destroyed the Panthers O-line in the Super Bowl and gave Cam Newton nightmares for weeks to follow, he deservedly won the Super Bowl MVP award, and got Paid. Boy did he get paid! A $114.5 million contract over five years to be precise. Now he has to prove his worth. With terrific speed off the edge, on his day Miller is the best pass rusher in the NFL. His challenge is to make that day come more often, and to become more consistent. Often last season Von took over games and dominated offences. Quite often he didn’t really turn up. Now he has to turn up every week. And if he does, he could be on his way to DPOY, and help improve this sensational Broncos defense even more. Who knows, but Von can certainly be the difference in games.
Panthers key player:
Representing the Panthers, enter the League MVP Cam Newton. Dabbing no longer. But after coming off an absolutely wonderful season, leading the Panthers to the Super Bowl via a 15-1 regular season record he is the complete dual threat QB and is probably the best player in the league. He must perform to a similar level again however if he wants to continually be considered in the conversation for best NFL player. Teams often struggle after losing a Super Bowl, and Cam Newton will need to be at his very best to prevent the same happening for the Panthers, but he will need his O-line to step up and help protect him from the Broncos defence.
Both teams could well be at full strength for the season opener with Bennie Fowler the main doubt for the Broncos as he didn’t practice yesterday. Other injury concerns include Jeff Heuerman, Ty Sambrailo and James Ferentz who all training albeit to a limited degree. On the Panthers side of the ball, Dean Marlowe was the only player who had limited practice, with Vernon Butler and AJ Klein both returning to full practice.
Three keys to win the game for the Broncos:
1. Don’t turn the ball over
2. Run game is successful
3. Get pressure to Cam Newton frequently
Three keys to win the game for the Panthers:
1. Protect Cam from the Broncos defense
2. Cam Newton to be a dual threat QB
3. Rookie CB’s need to cover DT and Sanders successfully
Prediction: Broncos 21-13 Panthers – Another low scoring game, with the Broncos defense dominating, as well as a couple of TDs on the ground, however Siemian cannot afford to turn the ball over if the Broncos are to be successful on offence.