Panthers vs. Broncos Pick
The Panthers are a small favorite tonight against the Broncos as the NFL kicks off its 2016 season. Will Carolina cover easily?
According to oddsmakers from online sports book Bovada.lv, the Broncos are 3-point home underdogs versus the Panthers in this Super Bowl rematch. As for the total, the number opened at 43 but has been bet down to 41.5.
The Panthers return the same core that led them to a NFC Conference Championship last season and a matchup with the Broncos in February's Super Bowl. Cam Newton returns to an offense that dominated opponents on the ground a year ago and opened up big plays in the passing game. Speaking of which, one player Newton didn't have at his disposal a year ago was receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who returns from an ACL tear suffered before the regular season started in 2015. Benjamin caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie in 2014.
After losing Brock Osweiler to the Texans in free agency and watching free agent pickup Mark Sanchez fumble the opportunity to be the starter this preseason, the Broncos will start Trevor Siemian under center tonight. The 2015 seventh-round pick out of Northwestern will be making his NFL debut. At least he'll have plenty of weapons around him in CJ Anderson, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and tight end Virgil Green.
OUR PICK: Our NFL Public Betting page shows that 77% of public bettors are backing the Panthers in this game, presumably because of the Broncos' quarterback troubles and the fact that Carolina is only laying a field goal. But while the attention will be on Siemian, realize that Denver still returns all of the elements on defense that frustrated Newton in the Super Bowl last season. Von Miller, Derek Wolfe, DeMarcus Ware, TJ Ward, Aqib Talib, Darian Stewart, Chris Harris and Bradley Roby are all back defensively so if Siemian can be turnover free, the Broncos should cover. Denver remains tough to beat at home and there's just something off about this line.
NFL WEEK 1 PICK: DENVER BRONCOS +3